A recent “Top 10 Goalkeepers” list has been published by a U.K-based outlet that shall not be named. You’ll probably be able to guess what said outlet is if you think of Liverpool and the Hillsborough disaster of 1989. Within their list, they ranked the top 10 European goalkeepers of the past year, but unjustifiably snubbed Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer (Sport Bild). The reason is that the statistics within this particular ranking system are based on a “post-shot expected goals minus goals allowed” ratio, meaning that any keeper that faces less shots is automatically going to have a lower value with that ranking system. Manchester United’s David De Gea topped the list with a rate of +7.6 goals saved so far this season.
The top 10 list in order:
- David De Gea (Manchester United, +7.6)
- Jose Sa (Wolverhampton Wanderers, +6.7)
- Manuel Riemann (VfL Bochum, +6.4)
- Stole Dimitrievski (Rayo Vallecano, +5.9)
- Matias Dituro (Celta Vigo, +4.5)
- Luis Maximiano (Granada, +4.0)
- Mark Flekken (SC Freiburg, +3.9)
- Mike Maignan (AC Milan, +3.1)
- Jasper Cillessen (Valencia, +3.0)
- Walter Benitez (OGC Nice, +2.3)
The trend in the teams across Europe’s top five leagues that comprise the this top list that they concede significantly more chances than Bayern. For example, with Riemann’s presence in the top 10, Bochum have one of the worst goals concession rates in the Bundesliga, having given up 26 goals so far this season. Bochum concede many more chances than a team like Bayern that boasts a better defensive record.
The expected goals is calculated primarily by aspects regarding the shooter; position, angle on goal, speed travelling, defenders in the surrounding area, etc. The data isn’t able to account for keeper’s starting positions or their tactical awareness, which in Neuer’s case, doesn’t account for his famously dubbed “sweeper keeper” capabilities, where he is often times off of his line exceptionally well to quell danger from through balls and long balls over the top. The data also doesn’t account for magnitude of said saves. Not that it would count towards this particular data set for 2021, but Neuer’s saves in the Champions League final against Paris Saint-Germain would come to mind. He made a handful of key saves to deny the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar Jr, and Angel Di Maria, but his post-shot expected goals minus goals allowed” ratio still might not be as high from that crucial match.
While La Liga is the most represented league for this particular data set, it could also be taken an alternative approach with its intent. On one side of the argument, it’s increasingly difficult for some of these keepers to get the recognition they deserve with their clubs’ concession rates being much higher, but in a year where Bayern players, namely Robert Lewandowski were robbed of important individual accolades, it could easily be misconstrued as yet another snub for a Bayern player.