Best Current Goalkeepers in European Soccer

Young children dream of scoring goals, creating their own celebrations, making headlines, baffling opponents, being superstars and virtually ruling the game. Such young, aspiring soccer players are guaranteed to have posters of Cristiano Ronaldo here and Lionel Messi there; of Wayne Rooney on the door front and Zlatan Ibrahimović on the door back; of Neymar on the window and Aguero in the wardrobe. But you would really struggle to find a kid worshipping Buffon or Kahn.

That’s why, to celebrate this much underrated art of soccer, we have rounded up 5 of the very best current goalkeepers in European soccer. Read on, take a moment to appreciate the efforts of these unsung heroes and get inspired by them – who knows, even you could end up on such lists 15 years down the line!

 

1. Iker Casillas (Spain, FC Porto)


The reason Casillas tops this list is that apart from being a very, very good goalkeeper, he is a natural leader. With 5 La Liga titles, 3 Champions League cups, a Euro Cup and a World Cup adorning his trophy cabinet, one can imagine the way he can solidify a team and bring the best out of his players.
Despite having had some bitter confrontations with the Real Madrid team management in recent past, he is still the most beloved Los Blancos’ goalie, their Captain Reliable and most importantly – a very, very humble man.

Special Attributes
Extremely reliable in set play situations.

 

2. Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich)


With glittering performances in last three seasons for Germany as well as Bayern Munich, Manuel Neuer has established a firm place as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Drafted very young into the Bundesliga setup, Neuer was lucky to board the plane to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, as Rene Adler had to withdraw due to injury. Since then, he has quickly stepped up to the plate every time he was required to – winning 3 Bundesliga titles and 1 Champions League trophy for Bayern Munich.

Special Attributes
Accurate Long throws and great composure in high pressure penalty shootouts.

 

3. David de Gea (Spain, Manchester United)


The rise of David de Gea has been nothing short of meteoric. Ever since he left Atletico Madrid in 2011, he has been a regular starter for Manchester United. He has also enjoyed the immense popularity that being with a huge club like Manchester United automatically follows. He has made many memorable saves for the Reds, the most memorable coming against the free kick of compatriot Juan Mata when he was at Chelsea.
He is the next in line to fill the big shoes of Casillas when he decides to retire from international soccer.

Special Attributes
Saves off free kicks and excellent chemistry with defenders.

 

4. Petr Čech (Czech Republic, Arsenal)


After spending nearly his whole playing career at the Stamford Bridge, Čech made a shock move to Arsenal this summer. He has long stopped being the first-choice keeper for the teams he plays for, but that does not change the fact that he has been among the very best in the business for over a decade.
Barcelona fans will particularly remember Čech forever, for all those heartbreaks he has caused them over the seasons in Champions Leagues.

Special Attributes
Attacking the ball and anticipating opposition’s through-balls.

 

5. Marc-André ter Stegen (Germany, Barcelona)


Stegen has been an understated presence at Camp Nou since he joined the club in an unexpected transfer two seasons ago.
He has been very responsible, however, in all of his appearances for the Spanish giants – allowing them to win the Treble (La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League) in his first season with them. His terrific save off Lewandowski against Bayern Munich in the return leg of the CL Semi Final in that season has been one of the proudest moments for Barcelona fans.

Special Attributes
Great sweeping abilities and nimble diving skills.

Top 5 Soccer Penalty Games for iOS and Android

If you are a true soccer fan, playing high-adrenaline penalty shootout games on your smartphones and tablets can be the best way of engaging yourself in travel, commute or whenever you feel like.
There’s something about penalty shootouts that excites all of us. Call it the power of dram that unfolds one kick at a time, or the nervousness that engulfs everyone when the referee calls for a shootout, we all love shootouts dearly.
So, in the same spirit, we have brought top 5 soccer penalty games for iOS and Android that will keep you busy, and more importantly, EXCITED!

 

#5 Perfect Kick

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Perfect Kick is a simple yet addictive penalty shootout game. Developed by Gamegou and available for Android and iOS, the game is just what every soccer fan who loves a good penalty shootout needs.
Perfect Kick doesn’t offer you much customisation – but the advantage here is that as soon as you start the game, you are straight off to playing, without fussing about.
The game is all about finding that perfect combination of power, timing and placement, not to mention outsmarting the goalkeeper. You will have to be on your toes all the time because the game has developed an algorithm – in real time – to learn your preferences and habits. So, you can’t just keep scoring using the same tactics over and over again.
Perfect Kick is for everyone who likes to feel like a soccer star every once in a while. All you need to do is download the game, sit back and enjoy the glory!

Download: iPhone and iPad | Android

 

#4 Super Goalkeeper

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Penalty shootouts can produce some of the most memorable moments on the soccer field. From Zlatan’s incredibly forceful pile drivers to Pirlo’s artistically delicate chips and from Robben’s clever dabs to Ronaldo’s high flying top corner scorers, penalties have the power to transfix you to your seats and bite more than a few nails off.
However, little do we know about what the man who’s facing these shots feels like.
How does it really feel to have a ball kicked at you at such high speeds? What does it take to outwit a fierce striker like Rooney? How does one anticipate which way Messi is going to drive the ball past the goal line?
Well, now you can get a glimpse into a goalkeeper’s mind with Super Goalkeeper – a smartphone penalty game developed by Luandun Games, and available for iPhone and Android.
Read the striker’s mind, anticipate his moves and hurl yourself high and wide with only one aim of stopping the ball.
It’s more difficult than you probably think. Are you up for the challenge?

Download: iPhone and iPad | Android

 

#3 Final Kick

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Developed by Game Center (Ivanovich Games), a reputed smartphone game developer, Final Kick is tailor made for all soccer fans who dig penalty shootouts.
Final Kick is a little different than all other penalty shootout games in that it allows you to customize every aspect of a penalty shootout – from the ball being used to wind direction.
The game is currently available for iOS and Android for free, with an optional upgrade (player kits, stadia, player profiles etc.) available for purchase in the app. As you keep scoring or blocking goals, you will earn golden points that can be used to purchase various goodies from the official website of the developer.
So, it doesn’t matter where you are, you will always be carrying your passion for penalty shootouts right in your pocket. It would really not be a surprise if you stop missing your gaming consoles when you are on the go now!

Download: iPhone and iPad | Android

 

#2 Quick Kick Brazil

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Although not really a brand new game, Quick Kick Brazil is still one of the most popular penalty shootout games for smartphones. It’s available for Android, iOS and can also be played directly via flash at the developer’s (DigitalMind) website.
What Quick Kick Brazil brings to you is a fairly simple but not simplistic experience of ultimate penalty shootouts. You can choose your teams, players and even score lines. You can simulate real life gaming experience with cheering and jeering crowd that will make you feel the pressure that penalty shootouts are known for.
Perhaps the only drawback that Quick Kick Brazil players might point out is the fact that the game is not really high on graphics. However, it also means that it’s small, nifty and won’t eat into your phone’s memory. It’s lightweight and can be played with ease whenever you want, however you want.

Download: iPhone and iPad | Android

 

#1 FIFA 14

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EA Sports have revolutionized sports simulations over the years with their amazingly realistic video games. FIFA is perhaps their best known venture yet. For those of us who have grown playing FIFA on PCs and Xboxes, there’s a great fix of ultimate penalty thrill – FIFA 14 for smartphones. Available for both Android and iPhone as well as Windows Phone, FIFA 14 brings the best of graphics, player details and highly customisable shot selection.
There is a separate penalty mode in which you can either practice penalties for endless number of times, or go straight to dying minutes of a match in order to head to penalties.
What you get with FIFA 14 is that familiar feel of being in control, kicking the ball with just the kind of accuracy and power you want, and of course – immaculate placement.
If you are looking for a good soccer penalty game for your smartphone, we are pretty sure FIFA 14 can stand up to your expectation. Just download it and play on – because nothing matches a thrill that tense moments of a penalty shootout bring!

Download: iPhone and iPad | Android

The Very Best Comebacks in Club Soccer

One of the dearest reasons why millions of fans around the world simply adore the game of soccer is that it is a game of stupendous uncertainties. In most cases, you are never out of the game until the final whistle blows. Even in the injury time, there’s a sliver of hope that keeps fans of the trailing side with fingers crossed and fans of the leading side to count their minutes.

Perhaps the spirit of soccer lies in this ability to act as a ‘leveller’ of sorts, making it all appear fair, just and very, very thrilling.

As an homage to this very fact, we have tried to compile 5 of the very best comebacks in the modern history of club soccer.

Read on!

 

Liverpool vs AC Milan, 3-3, 2005

 

Dubbed by the media as the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’, the Champions League Final of 2005 still remains the highest triumph that the Liverpool fans have ever experienced.

The game, being hosted at the picturesque Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul, began in a frenzy as Maldini and Crespo scored three goals in tandem to take the Milanese side 3-0 up at the half time. What followed, however, was probably the best comeback ever as Smicer, Gerrard and Xabi Alonso scored three spectacular goals to draw level at full time, allowing for a high-adrenaline penalty shootout victory.

 

Arsenal vs Reading, 7-5, 2012

 

What a game! What a turnaround for the Gooners!

Reading were uncharacteristically aggressive in this routine league game in 2012, surprising everyone with a goal after goal in the first half, going 4-0 up. Just as the halftime whistle was due, a lone piece of side-line brilliance from Theo Walcott saw Arsenal score their first goal of the match – a goal many thought would merely be consolatory.

But it wasn’t. It spurred a comeback of dramatic proportions that finally saw Reading lose 5-7, leaving everyone as stunned as a deer in the headlights.

 

Newcastle vs Arsenal, 4-4, 2001


A year before they drubbed Reading, Arsenal experienced what snatching a defeat (a draw, technically) from the jaws of victory tastes like.

After a fertile first half, Arsenal were all too certain to complete an authoritative away win, when Abou Diaby was sent off for a reckless challenge. In the last 20 minutes of the second half, Newcastle fans found their voices back and the team their feet. When the referee blew the final whistle, Arsenal fans and players were left to contemplate what really transpired at the St. James Park that fine night.

 

Spurs vs Manchester City, 3-4, 2004

 

Manchester City weren’t quite used to winning about a decade ago as they are these days. In another soon-to-be-complete routing, they stood reeling 3-0 at the halftime with a relatively mediocre Spurs side.

Following a passionate plea from the man-in-charge Kevin Keegan, a legend in his own right, City players finally turned up, and how!

Scoring 4 goals in a matter of minutes, they somehow managed to make the impossible possible and entered the next round of the Cup in style.

 

Manchester United vs Juventus, 3-2, 1999 (Rare video)


Juventus 2 – 3 Manchester United… by manchesterdevils

 

The United were sorely missing playing with the highest echelons of European Club Football. They were finally allowed to make it to the Champions League in 1999 wherein they seemed unstoppable, routing every opponent before drawing 1-1 at home with the mighty Juventus.

The away leg started with a disappointment as Juventus went 2-0 up at the halftime. However, with a grand leader like Roy Keane at the helm, the comeback was far from impossible. Teaming up with Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, Keane made sure that the Reds didn’t miss the plane to the finals.

Heading Tips – Head like a PRO, without getting injured

Most footballers have serious views about heading. Some seem to love it, some can’t get enough it while on the other hand (or head, if you will), some try to avoid it and some downright detest it.

However, the fact that heading is an important part of the on-field football fabric remains unchanged. If you play football, you will be required to head, nay, you will be required to head good.

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Heading is not just about accuracy or confidence. It is also about keeping it technical, keeping it real and keeping it safe. After all, meeting a ball travelling at a decent speed with your head means that you will be absorbing and imparting a good deal of momentum through your head and neck – two of the most fragile parts of your body.

Here are five of the most basic tips that will allow you to head freely – without hurting yourself.

 

Eye Contact – A Necessary Evil

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Most players, while starting out in the least, seem to head aimlessly by just throwing their heads around and wishing for a contact. This is a really poor technique that might often leave you with a concussion, not to mention an ineffective header.

The most rudimentary thing you need to remind yourself of before even going for a header is to keep a constant eye contact with the ball. You are allowed to lose the eye contact just before you meet the ball with your head.

Eye contact allows you to avoid injuries and execute a well-directed header.

 

The Sweet Spot

the sweet spot

Heading is made even more risky by the fact that many players don’t know which part of their head needs to be used to meet the ball with.

The commonest mistake is to use the centre of the head. The centre of your head will not allow you to force a shot – it will only let you lodge the ball in the air.

Hence, the sweetest spot that most pros advise for headers is the ‘front of the forehead’ – i.e. where your natural hairline meets your forehead.

This is where you absorb the impact and direct the ball using your neck muscles.

 

Talk, Talk & Talk

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Not making calls results into injuries

Talking is the most underrated part of playing football. Most players, through exhaustion or ineptitude, seem to ignore what their coaches say about making calls.

While it may certainly hamper on-field results, it may have even worse effects when it comes to heading. Whenever you are going for a header, you need to be loud and clear about your intentions. You certainly don’t want to be meeting an uninformed teammate going with all might for the same header opportunity.

Maintain Balance

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Maintaining balance is important!

Maintaining balance is the key to converting a good header into an effective header. You need to be in shape while in ascent and descent. While landing, you don’t want to be off balance as you would want to join the on-field action as soon as possible, especially if you are in the close-quarters from the goal.

 

NEVER Jerk Your Neck Abruptly

Jerking your neck will only lead to injuries!
Jerking your neck will only lead to injuries!

It’s understandable that you might be taken by a surprise when a header opportunity presents itself out of nowhere. However, jerking neck muscles abruptly and with surprise is another common reason behind injuries.

What you can do to counter this is to keep yourself ready for a header at all times. If you are mentally prepared for a header, you won’t be taken aback, and your body will follow the suit without much problems.

Marking in Soccer: Common Questions Answered

Soccer is a game that is played as much in your head as it is played on the field. It is no more a brawn game than it is a brain game. It takes a good measure of understanding of the proceedings on the field and anticipation of what’s to come before actually executing any sort of move whatsoever.

Figure 1: Marking isn’t easy!
Figure 1: Marking isn’t easy!

Marking is a big part of drawing up and implementing these strategies. There is a lot of confusion when it comes to discussing and actually practising marking methods on field – particularly for amateurs and novices.

In this article, we will try to address some of the most common and most basic of questions that players have about marking.

 

What exactly is ‘marking’?

Figure 2: Old-Fashioned marking in soccer
Figure 2: Old-Fashioned marking in soccer

Quite understandably, the whole marking fiasco starts from the fact that players aren’t aware of what marking really means and coaches, in many cases, take no efforts to answer such questions.

To put it very, very simply, ‘marking’ is equivalent to shouldering a certain share of field responsibility by yourself – at all times.

It may involve marking a zone or marking a player. Goals conceded through poor marking are generally attributed as the failure of the player on whom the relevant marking responsibility was placed.

 

What is ‘Zonal Marking’?

Figure 3: A typical zonal marking heat map
Figure 3: A typical zonal marking heat map

The most common form of marking in football is ‘zonal marking’. In zonal marking, players (midfielders and defenders, more commonly) are asked to mark certain zones in their half.

For example, a central midfielder may be asked to mark right wing predominantly because the team has an attacking right winger.

Zonal marking is zone specific, and not man specific.

 

What is ‘Man Marking’?

Figure 4: Man marking in a match situation
Figure 4: Man marking in a match situation

Man marking is another popular, albeit more challenging, form of making. In ‘man marking’, players are asked to mark certain opposition players – irrespective of their field positions.

For example, a left back may be asked to mark the right forward of the opposition, even if he moves to the right wing.

Man marking, unlike zonal marking, is man specific.

 

Why are we not being able to mark properly?

The key to successful marking execution begins right at the drawing board. You need to know what sort of marking you are going to need before actually cooking up any new strategy. You need to have a fool-proof understanding of the opposition players and their possible strategies.

Another thing that most teams ignore whil

e drawing marking strategies is the fact that you need to be flexible in utilising these tactics. You CANNOT start a game with a rigid marking scheme. You need to be able to move around and change things if the situation asks them. If one of your ‘marked’ players goes off the field, you need to come up with a new strategy for the substitute. Similarly, if the original strategy is not working, you need to think up a new impromptu plan.

 

Can marking be practised?

Marking is very difficult to practise in non-game situations, unlike most other aspects of football. A simple explanation for this lies in the fact that marking relies heavily on ‘non-familiarity’ among players, and in most cases, practising players are quite familiar with each other.

However, there are certain marking drills like ‘see-saw marking’ that can help players get more adept at marking. More about these drills will surely be discussed in another article.