Who will win the Golden Glove Award at the 2018 World Cup?
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
The World Cup is full of magical moments that will be remembered far beyond the summer. The giant-slaying by the underdogs, with top teams Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Portugal and Spain falling by the wayside. The incredible goals will be etched in the memories of supporters who were lucky enough to see them hit the back of the net. And the tense games with their dramatic late goals, and ultimate comebacks.
But what of the goalkeepers? The safe pair of hands between the sticks, the last defence that ultimately decides the fate of their team. The stunning goals that fire a country into the next round will be hard to forget, but what about the saves that kept their team in it?
The 2018 World Cup in Russia has seen some amazing performances from goalkeepers, whether it was Jordan Pickford helping England break their penalty shootout curse or Hugo Lloris producing what was called the best save of the tournament.
The best goalkeeper of the tournament will be awarded the Golden Glove Award. Previous winners include Germany's Manuel Neuer, Spain's Iker Casillas, and Italy's Gianluigi Buffon. The last English goalkeeper to win the accolade was Gordon Banks in 1966, the same year that the Three Lions won the World Cup.
In recent years, the goalkeeper who was on the World Cup winning side has also won the Golden Glove. The award will not be decided by a specific statistic such as the Golden Boot, chosen on the number of goals scored, but it will be awarded by an independent FIFA panel.
Spanish sports newspaper Marca argues that this tournament is the "most even Golden Glove contest in World Cup history". They note that Belgium's Thibaut Courtois is the best goalkeeper in the World Cup so far in terms of the numbers, making 18 saves - he is the third best behind the already eliminated Guillermo Ochoa and Kasper Schmeichel. Danijel Subasic has managed to stop four penalties for Croatia in the tournament so far, and both England's Pickford and France's Lloris kept a clean sheet in the quarter finals.
Lloris is the favourite for the award after keeping three clean sheets in his five games for Les Bleus, leading the way at 9/4. Pickford follows him at 11/4 with Goal.com noting it is "all the more impressive considering his place as the Three Lions’ number one was not confirmed until days before their first match". Courtois and Subasic's odds are also 11/4, according to Oddschecker at the time of writing.
The Sportsman argues that the nation has fallen head over heels for Pickford, after it was "more or less up in the air: as to which goalkeeper, along with Jack Butland and Nick Pope, would get the nod by Gareth Southgate.
"Pickford has gone beyond many of his own national teammates, but to have replaced both competing and exited legends on the lips of many, with his stunning performances for England helping get the Lions to the semi-finals of the tournament for only the third time in their history," they write.
England play Croatia in the World Cup semi-final tonight (K.O. 7pm).