Friday, July 4, 2014

World Cup 2014: The Guardian Angels

Actually, I have written this similar article in Bahasa Indonesia with title of Kiper = Malaikat Sepakbola. Yet, due to this world cup spirit, I’d like to write over this topic in World Cup 2014 version. This topic really triggers me because of several good goalkeeper show up in this tournament. Several infamous goalkeeeper showed brilliant performance during this tournament, such as Guilermo Ochoa (Mexico), Keylor Navas (Costa Rica), and Raïs M'Bolhi (Algeria). They even could create difficulties to high profile team like Brazil, Italy, and Germany!

Beside, this is the best position where I am able to give my best whenever Im playing football..^_^

In my dictionary, I often describe this position as The Guardian Angel.


Because it is kind of impossible for team to win any trophies without any great goalkeeper in the heart of their defense.

This guy is somebody who always give composure in every heart of players and manager in a football team because of his presence in front of goal.

This man is somebody who always stay focus during precarious minutes to deny any equalizer or effort to change the wind of the game.

This is a man who always be expected to perform brilliantly in the drama of penalty shootout. The differences between the winner and loser in penalty shootout drama is totally laid on this man.

And once the aged one retired, somehow, it will takes several years to find the successor for this position. It has happened for so many occasions in the level either of club or national team. England took years to find David Seaman replacement until the rise of Joe Hart. It took 6 years for Sir Alex Ferguson during in Manchester United to find the replacement of Peter Schmeichel. Bayern Munich was desperate to search the new Oliver Kahn until they landed Manuel Neuer. Paraguay, until now, is still missing their legendary goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert. And now, perhaps, Netherlands might just found the new successor of Edwin Van der Sar.

In the relation of World Cup 2014, it is also impossible to win the world cup without any guardian angels in the team. Most of the team who won the world cup, they had the trusted man to keep their goal remain safe. These are several Guardian Angel in the previous world cup tournament.

Bodo Illgner, West Germany 1990.
I don’t know exactly what happened at that time, but Illgner was a good goalkeeper. He was the hero in the penalty shootout semifinal against England and kept Diego Maradona dull during 90 minutes game in the Final.

Claudio Andre Taffarel, Brazil 1994.
This competition was the best of him. Only conceded 3 goals in the whole tournament, including against magnificent Netherlands at that time. He saved penalty of Daniele Massaro in the penalty-shootout final against Italy.

Fabian Barthez, France 1998.
Did very well during the tournament and only conceded 2 goals in the whole tournament. He was the hero in the penalty shootout against Italy in the quarterfinal by stopping the penalty from Dimetrio Albertini.

Marcos, Brazil 2002.
Very calm and produced serenity in the Brazilian defense despite he had to concede 4 goals in the tournament. In the semifinal against Turkey, he denied volley from Hakan Sukur who was looking for equalizer. In the Final against Germany, again, he made important saves to deny longshot from Oliver Neuville and close-range shoot from Oliver Bierhoff.

Gianluigi Buffon, Italy 2006.
His performance was in line with his big name. He only conceded 2 goals and played very consistent in the tournament. At that time, Italy defense lead by Fabio Cannavaro was so perfect. Gianluigi Buffon + Italian Catenaccio = Wall.

Iker Casillas, Spain 2010.
Very consistent with his goalkeeper skill during the tournament. Only conceded 2 goals in the tournament. He denied one-on-one clear chances of Arjen Robben in the final against Netherlands

And now, in this world cup 2014, a lot of good goalkeeper are playing in this tournament. But not every of them could be The Guardian Angel for their team. In this article, Im going to give my thought regarding the goalkeeper who has potential to be The Guardian Angel of this World Cup 2014. So, technically, in a indirect way, I will have my prediction of which team are going to win the world cup based on the national team of these goalkeeper. These are goalkeepers who might be the guardian angles of this tournament.

Julio Cesar
Birth: 2 September 1979 (34 years old)
Club: Toronto FC
Caps: 82
World Cup Participation: 2006, 2010 and 2014

Brazil is well-known as a country that always produces world class player in every generation. Pele, Zico, Socrates, Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Ricardo Kaka, and Neymar are the list of world class player through generation that had ever produced by this land. Nevertheless, many of them often disremember Brazil ability to produce a world class goalkeeper as well. Claudio Taffarel, Rogerio Ceni, Marcos, Nelson Dida, and Julio Cesar are the list of prominent name in the generation line of Brazilian Goalkeeper. And now, Julio Cesar is still the one who bring the legacy as number one in Brazil.

Julio Cesar was mostly known as Inter Milan Goalkeeper. With Inter Milan, he reached his top level as footballer by winning several major trophies either in Italy or Europe. He was one of the actors behind Inter Milan success winning the historical-continental treble in 2010. And individually, he won the awards as the best goalkeeper in Serie A for 2 occasions, 2009 and 2010 and won European Golden Gloves in 2009/2010. However, his transfer from Inter Milan to QPR in 2012 was dwindling his career. He did not succeed to be regular Goalkeeper in QPR and only had several chances to play during whole season. As QPR was relegated to the championship division, he made his loan move to Toronto FC in MLS to save his career and to keep the trust of Felipe Scolari as Brazilian number 1.

His first World Cup was in 2006 as third choice goalkeeper after Nelson Dida and Rogerio Ceni despite he had no chance to play at that time. And after the retirement of Dida and Rogerio Ceni, the competition to be the primary Brazilian Goalkeeper was heating up. Bunch of talented goalkeeper at that time, Helton, Doni, and Huerelho Gomes including Julio Cesar were trying to be number one as first goalie. And Julio Cesar had ever lost the competition to those three contenders as Brazilian Goalkeeper in Copa America 2007. Nevertheless, due to his brilliant performance in Inter Milan afterwards, he gained over his place in as Goalkeeper in Brazil national team.

However, in WC 2010, as the failure of Brazil in quarter final, he was among the persons to be accused. He misjudged the crossing and let Wesley Sneijder to score by close-range heading. And in this current WC 2014, he once again booked the first place of Brazilian Goalkeeper under the chief of Felipe Scolari. The opportunity of him to pay his mistake in 4 years ago in front of Brazilian public and brings the Sixth World Cup to the home of football. It seems he is able to make it comes true. In the last match at World Cup 2014, he succeeded to bring Brazil into Quarter final and he became the hero during the match of first knockout stage against Chile. He saved several chances in the 120 minutes game and blocked two penalty of Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez.

Manuel Neuer
Birth: 27 March 1986 (28 years old)
Club: Bayern Munich
Caps: 47
World Cup Participation: 2010 and 2014

After the retirement of Oliver Kahn, as matter of fact, Germany was worrying about the regeneration of their goalkeeper. Several name such Michael Rensing, Robert Enke, Rene Adler, and Timo Hildebrand were trying to be the Kahn successor afterwards. But all of them were failed, none of them could replace the Oliver Kahn profile under Germany’s Goal. But, when Manuel Neuer came up with Schalke 04 and Germany U-21 National Team in late of 2009, all of anxious feelings inside Bavarians were vanished straight away. His ability under the goal is a proof that he is going to be the next Oliver Kahn of Germany and deserved to be considered as among the best in the world.

In the level of club, he was able to bring Schalke 04 to the Semifinal Stage of UEFA Champions League, which was really special accomplishment to the club respecting not many of well-known players in that team. And also, he and his teammate created difficulties to Man. United on that stage. Despite Schalke 04 lost at that time, he still won the awards as the best goalkeeper of the tournament. That performance attracted the biggest team in Bundesliga, Bayern Munich, to land him on Allianz Arena. In the summer of 2011, he made his move to the biggest team in the Germany of all-time. At the first year in Bayern Munich, he brought the team back to the Final stage of UEFA Champions League after 11 years despite they had to lose from England representatives, Chelsea, in their own home. Nevertheless, in the following year, he was among the actors of Bavarians winning the prominent and the first treble in the Bundesliga history.

World Cup 2014 is his second chances in this competition. This time, He and his team need to pay their failure in South Africa and break the dogma of European team never win World Cup in America. With the more developed squad than 2010, this is best time for them to win world cup with this golden generation. And obviously, Manuel Neuer need to be their guardian angel to win the Holy Grail. It will put him as high as Sepp Maier, Bodo Ilgner, and Oliver Kahn, as Germany Legendary Goalkeeper.

Thibaut Courtois
Birth: 11 May 1992 (22 years old)
Club: Atletico Madrid
Caps: 17
World Cup Participation: 2014

His perfect performance in Atletico for three years made him considered as the best young goalkeeper in the world. He helped Atletico winning the European Cup in 2012, winning Copa Del Rey 2013, reached UEFA Champions League Final in 2014, and winning La Liga 2014. He also awarded as the best goalkeeper in La Liga season 2013/2014. Despite he is in very young age now, 22 years old, not only fantastic reflexes and skill he got, but also he has composure that normally belongs to developed goalkeepers in their golden age. This ability was also seen on several great goalkeepers before him such as Gianluigi Buffon, Iker Casillas, and Petr Cech once they were young. Within this fact, it is obvious that he will be the next profile of great goalkeeper in Europe and in the world, soon.

Now, alongside with his teammate and coach, he returned the dignity of Belgium football in front of the world which has been missing for almost 10 years. With the golden generation of squad they have now, they are expected to give something surprising in the tournament. And certainty, Courtois is also expected to be the guardian angel for Belgium. Yet, to this point, Belgium and Courtois did well but still not special.

In WC 2014, actually Courtois hasn’t showed his real ability yet. He hasn’t been tested. Belgium wasn’t facing big teams so far. But in the upcoming match, in quarter final, they are going to face Argentina, one of the favourite winner. This is going to be a real test for Courtois reflecting Argentina attackers are among the deadliest in this competition. Courtois could be the key on this match. As long as he can keep his goal remain safe from Messi and friends, Belgium may win. It is really promising scenario because Argentina defense is not good as their attack.

Jasper Cillessen
Birth: 22 April 1989 (25 years old)
Club: Ajax Amsterdam
Caps: 10
World Cup Participation: 2014

Among these 4 goalkeepers, perhaps, only Cillessen I knew since world cup 2014 started. I have no idea about this guy before. But when I learned about him in several video, I found that he is quite something. He has good reflexes and positioning. And when I compared several video of him with Tim Krul, Michel Vorm, and Marteen Stekelenburg, I think he is the best. And now I understand why Louis van Gaal choose him as the number one in Netherlands.

When I looked into his career, it is also quite something. He brought Ajax to win Eredivise three times in a row, 2011-2014. He has the most titles among compared to other current Dutch Goalkeepers right now. Similar with others talented young goalkeeper, he got his composure despite he is just collecting less than 15 caps with Netherlands. I can see him as the next Angel in front of Netherlands Goal after Edwin Van der Sar. They shared similar facts as well. They were developed in Ajax, they started theirs international career in the age of 24, and they have similar style too! Excellent in high ball and bit awkward in low ball.

In this world cup, he did well so far. He outperformed Iker Casillas of Spain in the first match and continued to keep tidy in the following matches. He has to perform better if Netherlands wants to win the world cup. In the Quarter Final, Semifinal and Final the opponents will be more difficult and more dangerous especially in their attack. He needs to be the differences once the Netherlands young defensive line could not deal with the opponent forwards. He needs to guarantee a composure in every Dutch players. He needs to be high as Van der Sar profile to bring Netherlands as World Cup winner.

Let us witnessing who will The Guardian Angel of world cup 2014.

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