With the group stages of the Russia 2018 World Cup now firmly in the history books and the round of 16 having begun in earnest, let’s take a look at which goalkeeper has been the best over the past few days. There have been some notable performances of course – Jordan Pickford‘s outing for England against Belgium brought some harsh criticism despite the fact that Belgium’s goal, scored by former Sunderland team-mate Adnan Januzaj, was a belter. Otherwise the Everton stopper had a solid game as usual. Kasper Schmeichel had a great game for Denmark even though the former European champions crashed out at the hands of Croatia, and Hyun-Woo Cho deserves credit as South Korea kept a clean sheet against world champions Germany to send them home.
The top performing goalkeeper over the last few days, however, has to be Brazil custodian Alisson Becker. The Roma goalkeeper had something of a shaky start to the World Cup campaign, looking nervy as the occasion seemed to be getting the better of him. Since that opening draw against Switzerland, however, he has started to look more comfortable, and has kept two clean sheets in the last few days to send Brazil into the quarter-finals of the competition after their 2-0 win against Mexico on Monday. That was to be Alisson’s second clean sheet in just a few days, as Brazil had managed a 2-0 win against a tough Serbian team to eliminate their opponents while booking their place against Mexico.
Becker, whose professional name is often shortened to just Alisson, has been linked with a move away from Italy this summer, with Chelsea among his potential suitors should he decide to seek a new challenge on a new horizon. These couple of games will have done his chances of securing their interest little harm indeed – while the Brazil defence is a tough one thereby reducing his potential workload, Alisson has been called upon to make a few saves and has done his job dutifully. With his country looking to right the wrongs of their own world cup four years ago, when they were destroyed by Germany in the semi-final, Alisson will not be alone among his team-mates in feeling some disappointment at the German’s early exit this time around.
That did, of course, remove the chance of having another crack at their earlier conquerors, but now the path forward is clear for Brazil. With even tougher opposition awaiting them in the next rounds the South Americans simply have to do what they do best – enjoy their freeflowing football, and play to their strengths. As long as they do that they can seldom be matched, though an eventual showdown with France offers a somewhat mouthwatering prospect. The French were simply sublime in eliminating Argentina 4-3, and that could arguably be the pick of the semi-finals assuming both sides get that far.