Euro 2012: Ranking 16 Starting Goalkeepers Going to Poland, Ukraine

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterMay 27, 2012

Euro 2012: Ranking 16 Starting Goalkeepers Going to Poland, Ukraine

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    Casillas or Buffon? Cech or Neuer?

    There's no wrong answer, really, when you're talking about those guys.

    But since everybody likes a few good rankings, that's exactly what we've got for you today at Set Piece: a list of the best goalkeepers at Euro 2012.

    We've got all 16 starting stoppers ranked from 16 to 1. Know who we picked at the top?

    Keep reading to find out.

16. Kostas Chalkias

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    Country: Greece

    Club: PAOK (Greece)

    The Greeks traditionally don't allow many goals, but after the retirement of national hero Antonios Nikopolidis, it's hard to gauge how much credit to give his successors.

    English fans might be familiar with Kostas Chalkias from his spell with Portsmouth in 2005-06. Now 37 (he turns 38 on May 30), Chalkias plays for PAOK in his native Greece.

    Will that be a bit too old this summer? We'll find out soon enough.

15. Oleksandr Shovkovskiy

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    Country: Ukraine

    Club: Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine)

    Highlights: Here

    Oleksandr Shovkovskiy has plenty of experience, having compiled 92 caps for Ukraine.

    Along the way, Shovkovskiy has seen his share of ups (the penalty shootout against Switzerland at the 2006 World Cup) and downs (a famous blunder against Slovenia in Euro 2000 qualifying).

    He's 37 now, though. We'll see how he holds up this summer on home soil.

14. Stipe Pletikosa

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    Country: Croatia

    Club: Rostov (Russia)

    Highlights: Here

    Stipe Pletikosa is the second-most capped player on Croatia's provisional Euro 2012 roster. He has compiled 90 caps since making his debut against Denmark in 1999.

    Now 33, Pletikosa had a spell at Tottenham and a short trial at Celtic in 2011. He currently starts for Rostov in Russia.

13. Thomas Sorensen

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    Country: Denmark

    Club: Stoke City (England)

    Highlights: Here

    Like most of the keepers around the lower portion of these rankings, Thomas Sorensen is getting on in years.

    But at 36, Denmark's No. 1 still has the skills and reflexes to sway the outcome of a match. And with 101 caps, he's a leader with plenty of experience.

12. Shay Given

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    Country: Republic of Ireland

    Club: Aston Villa (England)

    Highlights: Here and here

    Seamus "Shay" Given has consistently been one of the top keepers in the English Premier League for several years, but age is catching up to him.

    Given, 36, is currently sidelined with a knee injury, but he's still expected to feature for Ireland in the upcoming European Championship.

11. Andreas Isaksson

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    Country: Sweden

    Club: PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)

    Highlights: Here

    Sweden's No. 1 as far back as Euro 2004, Andreas Isaksson has collected 91 caps since making his international debut in 2002.

    After a move to Manchester City failed to pan out, he moved to PSV and the Eredivisie in 2008.

10. Rui Patricio

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    Country: Portugal

    Club: Sporting (Portugal)

    Highlights: Here and here

    A reserve for his country at the World Cup two years ago, Rui Patricio is expected to step into the starting role this summer. Still just 24, he has the potential to join the continent's elite stoppers.

    This summer could prove pivotal for Rui Patricio.

9. Igor Akinfeev

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    Country: Russia

    Club: CSKA Moscow (Russia)

    Highlights: Here and here

    Igor Akinfeev, the captain of CSKA, has reportedly attracted the interest of big-spending Chelsea on more than one occasion.

    That Akinfeev has been considered as Petr Cech's long-term replacement at Stamford Bridge should tell you all you need to know about the 26-year-old's talents.

    If not, watch the videos above. Russia could be a team to watch this summer, not least because of their rising star of a goalkeeper.

8. Wojciech Szczesny

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    Country: Poland

    Club: Arsenal (England)

    Highlights: Here

    It almost seems blasphemous to rank Wojciech Szczesny so low, but the 22-year-old Poland and Arsenal keeper has time on his side.

    Already one of the top keepers in the English Premiership, Szczesny is one to watch for the future.

    In more ways than one.

7. Joe Hart

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    Country: England

    Club: Manchester City (England)

    Highlights: Here and here

    At 25, England's Joe Hart is a rising star and a potential star for the future.

    A cricketer in his youth, Hart brings a high level of athleticism to the England goal. It's no stretch to say that England might finally have found the successor to David Seaman.

    With a good tournament this summer for the Three Lions, Hart could vault up this list.

6. Maarten Stekelenburg

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    Country: Netherlands

    Club: AS Roma (Italy)

    Highlights: Here and here

    Often overshadowed by his predecessor (the retired Edwin van der Sar), Holland's Maarten Stekelenburg is nonetheless one of Europe's top keepers.

    Stek was solid in goal for the Dutch during the Oranje's run to the World Cup final in South Africa. Now 29, he's poised to enter Europe's elite this summer.

5. Hugo Lloris

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    Country: France

    Club: Lyon (France)

    Highlights: Here and here

    A symbol of France's rebuilt squad, Hugo Lloris has earned deserved praise as Les Bleus' No. 1 and new captain.

    Still only 25, Lloris impressed against England in November 2010 and could prove vital to a deep French run this summer.

4. Manuel Neuer

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    Country: Germany

    Club: Bayern Munich (Germany)

    Highlights: Here and here

    The disappointment of Bayern Munich's Champions League final may still sting, but Manuel Neuer has the skills necessary to lead Germany back to the top.

    Distribution and penalty-saving (Champions League final aside) are strengths, and Neuer has even shown an ability to score penalties of his own.

    You never know when that might come in handy.

3. Petr Cech

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    Country: Czech Republic

    Club: Chelsea (England)

    Highlights: Here and here

    Petr Cech and Manuel Neuer are hard to separate, but because Cech and Chelsea beat Neuer and Bayern in the Champions League final shootout, the edge goes to Cech for now.

    Cech is worthy of top-three billing, as any Chelsea or Czech Republic fan will tell you. Capable of both jaw-dropping and routine stops, Cech is rightfully considered one of the best in the world today.

    And having just turned 30, he's entering his prime.

2. Gianluigi Buffon

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    Country: Italy

    Club: Juventus (Italy)

    Highlights: Here, here and here

    Gianluigi Buffon has been regarded among the world's top keepers for a decade-plus, and there's good reason for that.

    Buffon, the Italian captain, has won the World Cup, the UEFA Cup, the Coppa Italia and three Scudettos during his illustrious career.

    But is it sacrilege to ask whether, at age 34, he's on the decline?

1. Iker Casillas

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    Country: Spain

    Club: Real Madrid (Spain)

    Highlights: Here, here and here

    For all of Buffon's brilliance, Spain's Iker Casillas has achieved more in a shorter time.

    Casillas, 31, has won the World Cup, Euro 2008, five La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and two Champions League crowns. With 129 international appearances, he's Spain's most-capped player of all time.

    And he hasn't just been along for the ride, either. As captain of both Real Madrid and Spain, Casillas is one of the best, most experienced and most important players in world football today.

    If you have any doubts, watch the highlights.