Goalkeepers shine brightest in Brazil World Cup
By Kieran Canning ,AFP
July 14, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Despite being a tournament labeled as the return of attack-minded soccer after the caution shown in South Africa four years ago, Brazil 2014 has been a platform for the world's best goalkeepers to shine.
Sunday's final features the widely regarded best stopper in the world in Germany's Manuel Neuer, whose sweeper-keeper ability to rush from his goal could lead to a revolution in how the position is played.
However, even those less widely recognized at club level have shone in the bright lights of Brazil over the past five weeks.
Argentina's Sergio Romero made just one league start for Monaco last season, but became a national hero when he saved penalties from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder to send his side into their first World Cup final in 24 years.
With more teams committed to attack the wide-open nature of the tournament certainly gave those in the last line of defense more chance to shine.
However, they have also been aided by a reliable ball in the Brazuca, which hasn't dipped and swerved to leave 'keepers bewildered like the Jabulani did four years ago.
North American federation CONCACAF enjoyed their best ever showing at a final with three teams reaching the last 16 in large part thanks to their goalkeepers.
Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa somehow kept Brazil at bay in a 0-0 draw in Fortaleza and almost certainly earned himself a lucrative contract in the process.
Ochoa is a free agent having left French club Ajaccio and has been linked with a move to Spanish champions Atletico Madrid amongst others.
Another man on Atletico's radar is Costa Rica's Keylor Navas who is the only player along with Lionel Messi to have won three man-of-the-match awards in Brazil.