In the knockout stages a save can be more important than ever before and we have already seen two keepers become heroes during the penalty shootouts.
It began with Spain. The defending champions suffered a shocking and humiliating defeat to Holland – but no one was worse or more culpable than Iker Casillas.
The Real Madrid keeper carried on from the Champions League final in the worst way possible and was simply awful. He flapped more than Pingu and became a figure of fun and mocking on the internet, with one memorable viral mocking him up on the cover of Saving Private Ryan, instead calling it ‘Saving Absolutely Nothing.’ Harsh for someone dubbed a ‘Saint’ and legend.
Russian number one Akinfeev did not fare much better, throwing the ball into the back of his own net in the only interesting event of the clash against South Korea. There have been a couple of other, shall we say, questionable performances and the Dutch keeper looks like he has a howler in him before their time in the competition is up.
With the bad of course comes the good and Juilo Cesar was very good against Chile.
The penalty shootout was his moment to shine and the player who featured in less than a dozen league games last season managed to do just that. In fact he essentially sent them through. As did Keylor Navas who La Liga watchers will tell you was sublime for Levante last season and has a cracking record on penalties, making a superb save to see Costa Rica through against Greece. It must be said that the penalty shootout between the two unfancied nations was one of the best in a long time with both sides taking brilliant penalties. Only the brilliance of Navas saved a dead on their feet Costa Rica.
After the good we have the great, or as he is now known, the Mexican Jesus, Memo Ochoa. The free agent has been sublime this World Cup and has made saves no other keeper could dream of. A display that kept Brazil out was not enough, in fact it was the tip of the iceberg. Ochoa has become the closest thing you can come to being a brick wall as humanly possible.
The Dutch equalising goal was not something Ochoa could have stopped, nor was the penalty. Mexico can count themselves very unlucky and Ochoa deserved more than most out of that game.
Of course with crunch games there is more room than ever before for the world class keepers to shine and Thibaut Courtois will probably have a couple of moves in his locker yet. As will Hugo Lloris and indeed a couple of others – Manuel Neuer seems set on redefining the notion of a sweeper keeper to say the least!
The games seem to be tighter than ever and going down to the wire meaning that one save or one mistake can send a team through – or knock them out.
We have had the Great Wall of Ochoa. We have had penalty heroics. We have had just about everything bar a keeper actually scoring in the right net. Well, given the expectations attached to this World Cup, there is still time yet!
Who has been your keeper of the tournament? Let us know your thoughts below or tweet us @LaFootyettes.