Goalkeepers steal World Cup limelight despite goal flurry
By Karolos Grohmann
BELO HORIZONTE Brazil (Reuters) - Fans around the world have been enjoying a flurry of goals at the World Cup in Brazil but with the tournament now in its knockout phase it is goalkeepers not strikers that have been grabbing most of the headlines.
In a tournament that well before the quarter-final stage exceeded the 145 goals scored in South Africa in 2010, goalkeepers have stolen the limelight with a string of scintillating performances.
Indicative of their quality is the fact that when Algeria lost 2-1 against Germany in extra-time it was the Desert Fox's keeper Rais Mbolhi who was man-of-the-match despite his team being eliminated.
Until Germany scored their first goal early in extra-time he had single-handedly denied the three-time champions again and again, frustrating them with superb saves to give the North Africans hope until the very end.
In the same game Germany keeper Manuel Neuer provided a blueprint of the future with a masterclass of goalkeeping, rushing out of the box for much of the game to act as a sweeper while his leaking defense was caught napping.
Neuer played down his performance after the game. "I always play like that, and at Bayern Munich I also play like that.
But looking at the heatmap of his positions during the match, Neuer, who used to be an in-field player as a young boy and tries to get in on the action in training as much as possible, spent much of his time outside his box.
He even hit a top speed of 22.4 kmh as he outsprinted Algerian forward in his half. Continued...