News / Americas

World Cup Goalkeepers Steal Limelight

Algeria’s goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, right, during official training session before Group H World Cup soccer match against South Korea, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, Brazil, June 21, 2014.
Algeria’s goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, right, during official training session before Group H World Cup soccer match against South Korea, Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre, Brazil, June 21, 2014.
Reuters

Fans around the world have been enjoying a flurry of goals at the World Cup in Brazil but with the tournament now in its knockout phase it is goalkeepers, not strikers, who have been grabbing most of the headlines.

In a tournament that well exceeded the 145 goals scored before the quarter-final stage in South Africa in 2010, goalkeepers have stolen the limelight with a string of scintillating performances.

Indicative of their quality is the fact that when Algeria lost 2-1 against Germany in extra-time, it was the Desert Fox's keeper Rais Mbolhi who was man of the match despite his team's elimination.

Until Germany scored their first goal early in extra-time, Mbolhi had single-handedly denied the three-time champions again and again, frustrating them with superb saves to give the North Africans hope until the very end.

In the same game Germany keeper Manuel Neuer provided a blueprint of the future with a masterclass of goalkeeping, rushing out of the box for much of the game to act as a sweeper while his leaking defense was caught napping.

Neuer played down his performance after the game. “I always play like that, and at Bayern Munich I also play like that."

But looking at the heatmap of his positions during the match, Neuer, who used to be an in-field player as a young boy and tries to get in on the action in training as much as possible, spent much of his time outside his box.

He even hit a top speed of 22.4 kmh as he outsprinted Algerian forward in his half.

So it no real surprise that in the eighth round of 16 games, five man-of-the-matches awards went to goalkeepers.

Young guns

Apart from Neuer, some of the World Cup heavyweights failed to live up to expectations, including Spain's Iker Casillas and Russia's Igor Akinfeev.

Instead it was lesser-known keepers who stole the show with Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa, currently without a club, frustrating hosts Brazil in their 0-0 draw to help his country reach the knockout stage.

There he proceeded to deny the Dutch repeatedly before finally being beaten twice in the dying minutes but still did enough to win the man-of-the-match award in both those games.

Costa Rica's Keylor Navas was even more successful at soaking up Greece's pressure in the round of 16, doing everything right for about an hour when his team was down to ten men.

Then he stepped up to the plate again in extra-time with the Greeks pouring forward as if sensing that if it came to penalties Navas would again deliver.

He did exactly that, saving a spot kick in the ensuing shoot-out to send the Central Americans into the last eight and the Greeks heaping praise on the man who denied them what would have been a memorable qualification.

Navas, who plays for Levante in Spain but now has big clubs circling to sign him, has several training tricks up his sleeve.

One of them is saving tennis balls, shot at his goal at a speed of 160 km per hour by Spain Davis Cup player Pablo Andujar from a distance of 20 meters to improve reflexes.

USA keeper Tim Howard was also showered with compliments for making 16 stops against Belgium when his team buckled under the Europeans' pressure.

He was the only reason they managed to go into extra time before losing 2-1, with Howard earning hugs and pats on the back from the Belgians at the end of the game.

His saves were the most ever seen by a goalkeeper in a World Cup since 1966, according to FIFA, world soccer's governing body.

No fluttering

One of the reasons for these performances is no doubt the lower altitude of where game are played compared to South Africa and the ball hardly fluttering, especially from long range shots.

Keepers at the 2010 tournament complained even before the World Cup started that the official ball used in combination with the high altitude made it near impossible to judge its track as it twisted and turned past them.

Another obvious reason is that defenses at this tournament are far more open, with play flowing back and forth.

Looking at both Italy and Germany, their defenses at this tournament are only a pale shadow of their once granite-like backlines.

Spain's tiki-taka game of possession that reduced speed to a snail's pace is also out of fashion, making open play in Brazil look like a racing car compared to South Africa.

Even 2010 black sheep, Julio Cesar, has been transformed into a hero.

The Brazil keeper, vilified after his mistakes led to their 2010 elimination by the Netherlands, made a game-changing save in their round of 16 match against Chile.

He then proceeded to save two spot kicks in the shootout, answering the prayers of an entire nation as he kept the hosts dreams of a sixth World Cup very much alive.

Click here to check our our special World Cup site

  • Goalkeeper Tim Howard of the U.S. blocks a shot by Belgium's Kevin Mirallas during their round of 16 game at the Fonte Nova arena in Salvador ,July 1, 2014.
  • Belgium's Marouane Fellaini kicks the ball as Jermaine Jones of the U.S. defends during their game at the Fonte Nova arena in Salvador, July 1, 2014.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama watches the match between the U.S. and Belgium during a staff viewing party in an auditorium at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, July 1, 2014.
  • Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne scores against the U.S. in extra time during at the Fonte Nova arena in Salvador, July 1, 2014.
  • Belgian fans celebrate at Saint Job place in Brussels, July 1, 2014.
  • Fans of Switzerland before their game against Argentina at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo, July 1, 2014.
  • Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio is beaten by Argentina's Angel Di Maria during extra time at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo, July 1, 2014.
  • Argentina's Angel Di Maria celebrates his goal against Switzerland during extra time at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo, July 1, 2014.
  • Switzerland's Blerim Dzemaili's header hits the goal post during second half extra time in the round of 16 game between Argentina and Switzerland at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo, July 1, 2014.
  • Switzerland's Michael Lang, right, comforts teammate Fabian Schaer after they are defeated by Argentina at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo, July 1, 2014.

Error rendering storify.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Colorful Macaws Bring Beauty to Chaotic Caracas

Long-tailed birds color Venezuelan capital's sky, giving its 5 million residents a moment of quiet respite from noise and crime
More

Colombia's ELN Rebels: Peace Talks Near, Rule Out Jail

Commander's comments come as pressure mounts for President Santos to conclude peace talks with far larger FARC group and to show progress with ELN
More

Photogallery Chile Volcano Still Puffing; Flights Canceled in Argentina

Calbuco, which erupted Wednesday without warning, continues to spew ash, smoke
More

Former Spy Master Flees Argentina Amid Threats

Antonio Stiuso contends government is trying to sully his reputation following death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman
More

Chile, Argentina Cancel Flights as Volcanic Ash Cloud Spreads

Argentina's meteorology service forecast ash cloud could reach La Pampa; more than 4,000 people have been evacuated from immediate area
More

Deals Extend Russia's Energy Cooperation With Argentina

Accords underscore Moscow's effort to enhance South American ties since coming under Western sanctions over Ukraine crisis
More