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Top Goalkeepers in Europe's Top 4 Leagues

Aila StumpoCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2012

Top Goalkeepers in Europe's Top 4 Leagues

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    Who is the one that stands vigil at the back of the field and protects the net? Who willingly has balls shot at them for 90 minutes at a time?

    Who stops goals or creates them? Who takes on all the heat of penalty shootouts?

    If you haven’t guessed goalkeeper yet, then I’m sorry…

    We are all here to appreciate the work that sometimes goes unnoticed by viewers, but is done anyways by keepers. They have an eye constantly on them, a goal goes in "goalkeeper should’ve saved that one!" A goal is saved: "good one!"

    Looking at the top four leagues based on the UEFA Coefficient ranking system, here is the best keeper from each league and why.

England: Joe Hart

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    Manchester City have maintained their place at the top of the table this season, hardly wavering from first. Only seven times were they out of first place, and all seven of those times, they were in second.

    Impressive.

    It is no question that Hart should be here, he is the best 'keeper in the league and his performances week to week show that. City have the highest goal difference, of +49, and the lowest goals against, 20. Playing against him must frighten every striker.

    In 2006, Hart left his hometown club Shrewsbury Town for the blue side of Manchester and never turned back. After loan spells at Tranmere Rovers and Blackpool, he took up first choice but Shay Given soon replaced him, sending him to Birmingham on another loan. Upon arrival, he staked a permanent place in the XI. 

    Honourable Mentions: Tim Krul, Michel Vorm, Wojciech Szczesny, Pepe Reina, and Petr Cech.

Germany: Manuel Neuer

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    The Gelsenkirchen-born Bayern Munchen 'keeper, who is also Germany's number one, is undoubtedly the best in the Bundesliga. His skill and talent are undeniable and any club would die to have him in their net. With the highest goal difference in the Domestic league of +41, there have only been 17 goals against 2nd-place Bayern.

    His long and successful run with Schalke came to an end in the summer transfer window of 2011, when he said a tearful goodbye to the Royal Blues to head to Munich. No matter where he is or what defenders are in front of him, he seems to have the ability to play with such a degree of effectiveness.

    Honourable Mentions: Roman Weidenfeller and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Spain: Iker Casillas

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    Could it be anyone but the Real Madrid and Spain captain?

    I think not.

    He is the undisputed 'keeper for both teams and it doesn't look to be changing until he retires. He has led his team go 10 points against who some consider to be the 'best club of all time,' Barcelona. Besides having the highest amount of points in the league, Los Blancos also have the highest goal difference and second lowest tally of goals against.

    One of the most successful Castilla players of his generation, Casillas is hailed as 'San Iker' and has now made 600 appearances for Madrid. He moved up the ranks from Real Madrid C and fought hard to be where he is today.

    Honourable Mentions: Victor Valdes and Javi Varas.

Italy: Gigi Buffon

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    The Tuscan Gianluigi Buffon, or commonly known as Gigi, is the oldest on this list at 34 years of age. He is the captain of italy and vice-captain of Juventus, helping lead them to earning the title of 'Serie A Winter Champions.' Juventus have yet to loose a game and have only conceded 17 goals, Buffon being the first choice 'keeper.

    Ahead of Storari and Manninger in the picking order, there is no doubt that Buffon is a fantastic goalkeeper, saving shots one though impossible.

    After playing through the youth ranks of Parma and eventually in the first team, he was picked up by Juventus in 2001 and they haven't let him go since.

    Honourable Mentions: Christian Abbiati, Samir Handanovic, and Maarten Stekelenburg.

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