By Shebby Singh | WORLD CUP 2018 #4
If I had to choose the Golden Ball winner at this World Cup right now, I would choose one from Thibaut Courtouis, Hugo Lloris, Danijel Subasic or Jordan Pickford. These goalkeepers have done more than most to get their teams to the semifinals. We talk about strikers and how a great striker is always at the right place at the right time.
And these four goalkeepers get to the right place at the right time! They have been unbelievable in getting to every corner of the posts they have been guarding. With the semifinals looming, we quite simply have a battle of the goalkeepers to savour.
First up, it’s Thibaut Courtouis vs Hugo Lloris as a very experienced Belgium take on an improving France. The French managed to bamboozle Fernando Muslera when Antoine Griezmann’s shot swerved past the Uruguayan custodian but its going to take something better than that to beat Belgium.
With Courtouis only losing concentration for a split second against Japan, it’s fair to say he has had his “ Loris Karius “ moment. And gotten away with it. On the other hand, Hugo Lloris has had very good protection from the pairing of Raphaël Varane and Samuel Umtiti. Quite simply becoming the best centreback pairing at this World Cup, Varane and Umtiti have shown good communication is key in building a relationship with their goalkeeper.
The experienced Danijel Subasic up against Jordan Pickford is another battle where both goalkeepers have their reasons to be on their toes. Playing behind Dejan Lovren can be harrowing on any given day but so far, Subasic has not had to deal with a “Lovren” yet! The Croatian keeper has shown nerves of steel in pressure situations, already having come through two penalty shootouts.
After having dug deep against Denmark and Russia, Subasic is the main reason Croatia stand on the cusp of history. Getting into the World Cup final will make legends of this group but Danijel Subasic has already cemented his name alongside Drazen Ladic from the best of World Cup 1998. To emulate history is fine but to create history is devine.
On that note, Jordan Pickford is going to have to emulate Gordon Banks and take this 2018 English Edition all the way!
And who is to argue, Pickford can’t? While Harry Kane is the man with the goals, my pick as best England player is Jordan Pickford. This goalkeeper is by far the best England has had since Gordon Banks! He makes world class look routine!
On two occasions against Sweden, both at 1-0 and then 2-0, Pickford pulled off two world class saves without batting an eyelid.
The semifinals will feature four teams who have earned their places on the back of world class goalkeeping.
This World Cup semifinals give us two previous winners in England and France up against Belgium and Croatia looking to make history. The Belgians and Croatians are at their absolute best while England and France have the potential to get better. And the way this World Cup has been, with big name teams being just that, big names, we could have a new name on the trophy.
It certainly is now or never for Belgium and Croatia.
[Serbegeth Singh is a former Malaysian international footballer and current football analyst. For the duration of the World Cup 2018, he will share his thoughts at Asia Samachar on Mondays, looking back at the action in Russia over the week]
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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