The Top Five Goalkeepers in World Football

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On Tuesday, I took some time to watch some of the Paris Saint-Germain versus Chelsea game. While I was watching the second half, I couldn’t help but notice Thibaut Courtois’ performance. I thought he was the best player on the field.

After the game, I sat down and listed some of the best goalkeepers in the world. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this, so here are the five best goalkeepers in the world right now:

5. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus and Italy)
He’s one of the best goalkeepers in a one-on-one situation and has reveled in his longevity between the posts. He made his debut for the Italian national team in 1997 and shows no sign of slowing down. In November 2014, he won his 146th international cap. It’s safe to say the 32.5 million pounds Juventus paid for him from Parma in 2001 was smart business.

4. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur and France)
He was signed from French club Lyon on deadline day in summer 2012. He is currently the captain of the French national team and has been a steady performer for both his country and Spurs. Lloris, 28, can deal with the aerial ball to good effect, and he impressed at the World Cup last summer by leading France to the quarterfinals after a disastrous showing in 2010.

3. David De Gea (Manchester United and Spain)
De Gea, 24, moved to Old Trafford from Atletico Madrid for 18 million pounds, a British record for a goalkeeper, in 2011. He has since blossomed into one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and, under manager Louis van Gaal, he’s thrived. He made his Spain debut in 2013 and now has three caps to his name. He looks likely to replace Iker Casillas as Spain’s long-term goalkeeper, but could he also replace Casillas at Real Madrid, too? Time will tell.

2. Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea and Belgium)
Courtois, 22, signed for Chelsea in 2011 but was the understudy to Petr Cech, so he was sent out on loan to Atletico Madrid on multiple occasions. He helped Atletico win La Liga and reach the UEFA Champions League final last season. He starred for Belgium at the World Cup, and he even did well against Chelsea in last season’s UCL semifinal. All of his sterling performances convinced manager Jose Mourinho to recall him for good. He’s passed Cech as Chelsea’s No. 1.

1. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich and Germany)
Neuer stepped in for the injured Rene Adler on the eve of the 2010 World Cup and his career has thrived ever since. He signed for Bayern from Schalke for 18 million pounds and was named in the 2014 World Cup team of the tournament as Germany won its first title since 1990. Many people have suggested that he has redefined the position as he possesses superb sweeping and distribution skills.

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UCL Round of 16 Preview

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After a two-month break, the UEFA Champions League will resume this week. Here are my final thoughts on each of the round of 16 matchups:

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea; Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. EST
Jose Mourinho and Chelsea know what it takes to advance in the UCL. Mourinho has won the competition with Porto and Inter, and Chelsea won the final three years ago.

To be honest, I’ve been disappointed by PSG this season. It takes more than buying quality players to win the UCL. It’s surprising that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has yet to win the competition, and center back David Luiz will be the center of attention as he’s going up against his former club.

Chelsea to advance

Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Bayern Munich; Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. EST
This tie is already hard enough on Shakhtar, but it’s tougher now that it has to play the home leg in Lviv, Ukraine, because of the troubles in Donetsk.

Bayern has won only once in five games in Ukraine, but I expect Arjen Robben to be the deciding factor. Robben has been the top scorer at Bayern for the last 18 months. Striker Robert Lewandowski needs to start to score more regularly.

Bayern to advance

FC Schalke 04 vs. Real Madrid; Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. EST
Gareth Bale scored twice at Schalke in last season’s 6-1 victory. It’s shocking that the fans don’t really like him. He’s been superb.

Schalke has done well since the Bundesliga winter break and will fancy its chance at home. The club added center back Matija Nastasic, who’s a strong defender that didn’t get a fair run at Manchester City. Schalke manager Roberto Di Matteo knows how to cause an upset, but Madrid is far too strong.

Madrid to advance

Basel vs. FC Porto; Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. EST
I was impressed by Basel when it sent Liverpool packing. Defender Fabian Schar is outstanding, Fabian Frei makes the right decisions in the midfield and Marco Streller is still producing at the age of 33.

Porto does not suit Basel, however. It has a lot of power, and striker Jackson Martinez is trying to add a few dollars to his high price tag.

Porto to advance

Juventus vs. Borussia Dortmund; Feb. 24 at 2:45 p.m. EST
A tie that is hard to predict. I’ve been going back and forth on this one since the draw was made, but I’m giving Juventus the slightest of edges here.

Juventus has dominated in Serie A, while Dortmund might get relegated from the Bundesliga. Juventus has older players such as goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and central midfielder Andrea Pirlo, but it has a future Ballon d’Or winner in central midfielder Paul Pogba.

Dortmund has saved its best for Europe but can’t put a winning run together in the Bundesliga. Too many players are out of form and it might be good for them to exit the competition now.

Juventus to advance

Manchester City vs. Barcelona; Feb. 24 at 2:45 p.m. EST
Barcelona is on absolute fire, while City has been inconsistent in the EPL. City will be motivated after it lost to Barcelona in the round of 16 last season.

Barcelona has so much European experience on its side. It will be Luis Suarez’s first game back in England since his move from Liverpool in the summer. He’s found it difficult so far in Spain. At Liverpool, he was the main man, which suited him. Now, he’s far from that at Barcelona. He could leave Barcelona in the summer. Besides Suarez, Andres Iniesta has also found this season difficult. Summer signing Ivan Rakitic is preferred to him at the moment.

Barcelona to advance

Arsenal vs. Monaco; Feb. 25 at 2:45 p.m. EST
I’m expecting big things from Arsenal. It’s capable of beating any team on its day. If only it would break the bank and buy a defensive midfielder and world-class striker. If it did that, then it would probably win a trophy every season. A lot of people would like to see manager Arsene Wenger make a deep run in this year’s competition, and it has the best possible draw to do that.

Even though Monaco did well to win its group, it’s not the same team that spent mega money on James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao. If Arsenal has anything about it, it will demolish Monaco. Mesut Ozil is key and can make all the difference in these types of games.

Arsenal to advance

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Atletico Madrid; Feb. 25 at 2:45 p.m. EST
Atletico was so close to winning the final last season versus Real Madrid. Everyone seemed to think it would fade and it hasn’t so far. Diego Simeone has done a masterful job of getting the best out of Fernando Torres again. He’s been bad for three years, and the only places he probably was going to regain his form were either Atletico or Liverpool.

Leverkusen didn’t start well after the Bundesliga winter break, but now it has South Korea star Son Heung-min back in the fold from the Asian Cup. Leverkusen has missed him, but Atletico is a difficult team to break down.

Atletico to advance

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