20 of the Most Epic Saves so Far This Season
Goalkeepers never quite get the credit they deserve. As the last line of defense, everyone notices when they mess up, but few remember to give world football's best goalies plaudits when they do right. So we're recapping those awe-inspiring saves.
Here they are, in no particular order, but in all their show-stopping, goal-blocking glory: 20 of the most epic saves so far this season, with video so you can relive the moments.
As always, if you have more to add, have at it in the comments.
Javi Varas Fights off the Barça Attack
On October 22nd, Javi Varas single-handedly dismantled a ferocious and innovative Barcelona attack, earning himself a clean sheet and his side a scoreless draw.
That diving bat-away of a well-fired Iniesta ball is particularly mesmerizing. This video also earns bonus points because Ray Hudson is providing color commentary.
Rough Day for Diego Benaglio
The VfL Wolfsburg keeper had a rough time earlier this month against an on-form Borussia Dortmund attack that scored five goals on him, including a brace from Mario Götze.
But for this brilliantly-executed aerial deflection, he almost redeems himself. Almost.
The 'Penalty Killer' Earns His Nickname
It wouldn't be a best-saves compilation without a nod to Swansea City's cracking keeper, Michel Vorm. The Dutchman wrote himself into the Swansea history books when he saved a 72nd-minute Wigan Athletic penalty, giving the Swans their first ever point in the Premier League.
De Gea Blocks the Blues
Premier League fans knew that the faceoff between Chelsea and Manchester United would be a huge test for United's new goalkeeper, David de Gea.
Edwin van der Sar is most certainly a tough act to follow, and even though the Blues got a goal in, de Gea proved he has the potential to be a sufficient successor, and then some. Even when he makes a mistake and loses the ball, he dives on it and gets it right back.
San Iker Whips Up Another Miracle
The Spanish captain and Real Madrid guardian of the goal has been in good form in this Champions League campaign, most notably in a September shutout of AFC Ajax.
Here, he leaps to block a scorching shot from Jan Vertonghen, sealing a 3-0 victory for Los Merengues.
A Nailbiter for Feyenoord's Erwin Mulder
In this Eredivisie match between Feyenoord and AZ Alkmaar, Feyenoord keeper Erwin Mulder proved he is either genius or really, really lucky.
When AZ's Brett Holman fires right at him, he dives to nudge the ball out of the net. Holman would go on to score on Mulder later in the match, but that first save was too great not to include.
Carlo Fights in the Europa League
Tottenham Hotspur's Carlo Cudicini made an appearance last week in lieu of Brad Friedel in a Europa League clash against Rubin Kazan. Although he couldn't fend them off all night and Spurs would go on to lose 1-0, he did put in a spectacular effort, knocking back a number of fierce attacks.
Sadly, there is no video footage from this match, so let's watch some other career highlights from Carlo Cudicini for the same effect.
Man Oh Manuel
Bayern Munich's man in the net, Manuel Neuer, is one of the best goalkeepers in Europe right now, and he proved his mettle over the weekend in Bayern's victory over Augsburg.
After conceding a goal to Hajime Hosogai, Neuer returned to form to defend a 10-man Bavarian side, making a gorgeous open-palm stop on a shot from Edmond Kapllani.
A Szczensational Performance
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Wojciech Szczesny has been a force in the net for Arsenal this season, but it was at an international match against a formidable German attack that the Polish keeper truly shined.
You can watch Szczesny's magnificent save here.
And for Szczesny's cracking penalty save in the Arsenal-Udinese Champions League qualifier, go here.
Justo Villar Denies Alexandre Pato
Paraguay's Justo Villar gave one of the best performances of the 2011 Copa América, earning three clean sheets during the tournament and being named its best goalkeeper.
This denial of a fiery shot from Brazil's Alexandre Pato is a particularly standout performance.
Tim Krul Makes Waves in the Carling Cup
The Newcastle United goalkeeper has racked up a few great performances so far this season, but his best goal came at the beginning in a Carling Cup fixture against Scunthorpe United.
Krul, with a gymnast's leap, was able to knock the Scunthorpe attack away and made some headlines for the Magpies, who would win the match 2-1.
A Flying Solo
In case anyone forgot, there was a World Cup over the summer. And one of its key players was US Women's National Team goalkeeper Hope Solo, who made a diving leap to block a penalty from Brazil and help the U.S. get into the quarterfinals.
Castellazzi Saves InterIt
It hasn't been the easiest start to the season for Inter Milan, which made it an even bigger relief on October 26th when keeper Luca Castellazzi scored a major penalty save to prevent defeat in their 1-1 draw with Atalanta Bergamo.
Remember the Name: Izwan Mahbud
He was Singapore's third choice for goalkeeper: Hassan Sunny was out with a knee injury and Lionel Lewis was down on the pitch.
It was up to third-stringer Izwan Mahbud, who first impressed in two World Cup qualifier wins against Malaysia and managed to net this quality save in another preliminary match against China in September.
Al-Habsi Dives for Wigan
Like Mikel Vorm at Swansea City, Ali Al-Habsi is a great goalkeeper at a pretty okay team. He made waves at Wigan Athletic while he was on loan there last season, enough to convince the club to sign him in full.
So far this season, Al-Habsi has made quite a few quality saves to follow up on his Player of the Season-worthy performance last year, including this one last weekend against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Best from the MLS
With the hype mostly concentrated around Europe, sometimes we forget that yes, there is football (erm, soccer) in America and yes, it can be very, very good.
In this MLS faceoff from last month, the Chicago Fire's Sean Johnson makes a spectacular save from the FC Dallas offensive. This guy is going places.
When Killing Penalties, Use Real Steele
In a friendly reminder that epic saves happen in the lower divisions as well, Barnsley's Luke Steele managed to save two penalties in two minutes in a match earlier this season against Reading F.C.
Or Better Yet, Use This Guy
Not to be outdone in terms of epic saves in smaller leagues, in the Copa Argentina, Excursionistas' Marcos Fasanella managed to save five penalties in one match. Whoa.
A Fantastic Double Save from Victor Valdés
In an early-season La Liga match between Villarreal and Barcelona, the Yellow Submarine looked like it had a chance to fire a torpedo into the Barcelona net. But Victor Valdés was there to stop Giuseppe Rossi's shot and then, when it deflected back at him, bat it back to the ground once more.
They Should Have Just Called It the 'Copa Muslera'
Uruguay and Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera was one of the heroes of the Copa América, delivering a Man of the Match-caliber performance with a string of epic saves (including this jaw-dropping double whammy) in the quarterfinal match against Argentina.
Uruguay would go on to win the tournament with Muslera in the back of the net during every match.