Friday, August 17, 2018

FIFA World Cup: Heroes Between the Sticks – From Ricardo Zamora to Keylor Navas

The place between the sticks is arguably the most unthankful position in the soccer game, as goalkeepers are men whose errors are always under the light with nobody behind them to fix it. The striker can miss ten times in a row before scoring a goal which could make him a hero, and everyone would forget those mishits. But, if you are a goalkeeper, one mistake after ten magnificent saves, and you will know what’s pillory. The keepers are rarely stars, although some of them had a massive impact on soccer, and they had to wait until 1994 to get the special award on the biggest stage. At the 1994 World Cup in the USA, FIFA introduced Lev Yashin Award for the best goalkeeper of the tournament, changing the name to Golden Glove Award in 2010, so we’ll take a short trip to see who are World Cup’s true heroes between the sticks along with the latest odds on 2018 Golden Glove contenders.

Ricardo Zamora (1934, Spain)

Ricardo Zamora was an exceptional goalkeeper well-known for his unbelievably quick reflexes, and for the man who was smoking three packs of cigarettes per day in the combination with the cognac, he was pretty agile. In 1934, Spain reached the FIFA World Cup Quarter-Finals where they met the hosts Italy, in fact, Benito Mussolini’s Italy who just had to win the title. The clash was ended in a 1-1 draw mostly because Ricardo Zamora was remarkable in front of Spain’s net, while in the replay match, Zamora as a true gentleman hasn’t been between the sticks, leaving the victory to Italy.

Lev Yashin (1958, 1962, 1966, USSR)

Officially the best keeper of the 20th century, and the only goalkeeper who’s ever won Balon d’Or, Lev Yashin was a role model for modern keepers, making a huge impact during his long career. His positioning was remarkable, so sometimes it looked like he was doing all the things without breaking too much sweat, but when it was needed, Yashin was becoming a Black Spider reaching the balls in the most amazing ways. Lev Yashin represented USSR in three FIFA World Cups, leading the team to the fourth place in 1966, and a couple of Quarter-Finals in 1958 and 1962.

Dino Zoff (1982, Italy)

For more than a decade, Dino Zoff was Italy’s first choice between the sticks, and in 1982 he became the oldest ever winner of the FIFA World Cup after Italy beaten West Germany 3-1 in the final game, as he was 40 at the time. Zoff was a dependable keeper, and his consistency and calmness made him one of the greatest of all time. Between 1972 and 1972, Dino Zoff kept the clean sheet for 1142 minutes in the national jersey, setting up the record on the international level.

Sergio Goycochea (1990, Argentina)

Sergio was never a world-class goalkeeper, but he was a real hero in Italy 1990 when Argentina made it to the Final mostly because of Goycochea’s amazing penalty kick saves. Likewise, Sergio wasn’t the first choice in the 1990 World Cup, and after Nery Pumpido’s leg injury in the second match of the group stage, he had to take the place between the sticks. In the Round of 16 clash against Brazil, Goycochea kept his net intact, while he was miraculous in the penalty shootouts against Yugoslavia in the Quarter-Finals and Italy in the Semi-Finals. However, Argentina lost the final against Germany 1-0 after Andreas Brehme scored – from the penalty kick!

Gianluigi Buffon (2006, Italy)

If Lev Yashin is the best goalkeeper of the 20th century then Gianluigi Buffon is the greatest of all time. We can argue about this, but Buffon possesses remarkable reflexes, his positioning is exceptional, while he’s a pure leader on the pitch. Likewise, Buffon is certainly the best player among the keepers, as his passing skills are too good for plenty of midfielders out there. In 2006, Italy became the world champions for the fourth time in the history, while Buffon conceded only two goals in seven games, setting the World Cup record.

Keylor Navas (2014, Costa Rica)

The winner of the 2014 Golden Glove Award was German Manuel Neuer, but the true hero of the tournament was a little man from Costa Rica – Keylor Navas. Costa Rica started the journey as huge underdogs in the group with three World Cup champions Italy, Uruguay, and England, finishing on the top of the table thanks to wonderful team defense with Keylor Navas onwards. Navas also had some phenomenal stops against Greece and the Netherlands in the knock-out stage, but Costa Rica was beaten by Oranje in the Quarter-Finals on penalties after a nil-nil draw.

Betting on the 2018 World Cup Golden Glove Winner (Odds provided by BetDSI Sportsbook)

Manuel Neuer +350 David De Gea +400 Alisson Becker +450
Hugo Lloris +700 Thibaut Courtois +1000 Jordan Pickford +1200
Willy Caballero +1600 Rui Patricio +2500 Fernando Muslera +2500
Marc Andre ter Stegen +2500 Igor Akinfeev +3300 Danijel Subasic +3300

Before betting on the potential winner, the bettors should analyze the teams’ abilities, as the best goalkeeper would have to reach at least Quarter-Finals at the 2018 World Cup. Likewise, the bettors should look after keepers’ recent displays, and then pick up their favorites, as some great names will be in Russia this summer. Manuel Neuer will defend the title, although he missed the whole season due to an injury, while my betting pick is certainly David De Gea who had a tremendous season with Manchester United, and Spain is among the strongest contenders to beat the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

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Heroes Between the Sticks – From Ricardo Zamora to Keylor Navas
The 2018 FIFA World Cup starts in a few days, so you can check out the latest odds for the Golden Glove Award winner and find out who are the best goalkeepers in the history of the FIFA World Cup.
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