Goalkeepers are the last line of defence, and often the most important players of their teams. An entire team’s effort can be undone by just one mistake from the goalkeeper, hence it is also the position which is most under scrutiny. Some of the finest goalkeepers in the world ply their trade in Europe, and now we will take a look at the top 10 goalkeepers at the 2020 EURO Championships.
10. Lukáš Hrádecký, Finland (Bayer Leverkusen)
While his name may not spring to mind when you think of top goalkeepers, Hrádecky has been doing excellent work in the German Bundesliga since joining Eintracht Frankfurt in 2015. He has spent the last three seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, who have never finished lower than sixth place in that period.
Hrádeck oversaw a defence that allowed the third fewest goals in the Bundesliga this season, while also preserving eight clean sheets. While he is not the tallest goalkeeper, he is at ease with the ball at his feet and comes off his line brilliantly to grab crosses. While he faces competition from Jesse Joronen of Brescia in the Italian Serie B, Hrádeck is the designated man in goal for Finland, who will need all the support they can get from him. In the first match against Denmark, Hradecky brilliantly saved a penalty, as Finland pulled off a huge upset and won 1-0.
9. Peter Gulacsi (RB Leipzig/Hungary)
If there is one goalie who may have a busier Euros than Hradecky, it is Peter Gulacsi. Hungary has been placed in a group with holders Portugal, world champions France, and tournament behemoths Germany, despite finishing fourth out of five in their qualifying group with only eight goals scored and only making it here through the Nations League. With 3 of the toughest fixtures one can get, the veteran keeper will end up facing a lot of shots and will have to be at his absolute best. Gulácsi was a key component of RB Leipzig's recent success in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League, finishing equal for sixth in Europe's Big 5 leagues with 15 clean sheets this season.
Despite their tough group, in Gulacsi, Hungary has a Champions League-experienced goalkeeper with excellent penalty-area handling and shot-stopping ability. With the possibility of facing Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Serge Gnabry, and others, he'll need his whole set of abilities to thrive.
8. David de Gea (Manchester United/Spain)
David de Gea is presently competing for his No. 1 place at both club and international level, with Dean Henderson pressing his case at Old Trafford and Unai Simon awaiting Luis Enrique's permission. It's because the Spaniard's game has been marred by errors in recent years, but that doesn't make him a less-than-impressive shot-stopper. If Simon is injured or Enrique seeks additional major tournament experience, De Gea is the man to turn to. He kept 12 clean sheets in 36 Premier League and European games in 2020/21.
De Gea, once an undoubted top three goalkeeper in the world and poised for a huge move to Real Madrid, has slipped significantly in recent years by his standards. However, he still has the ability to make some astounding saves which no other keeper in the world would be able to make. His ability to cover from post to post remains outstanding, and he is now in a position to prove his doubters wrong. Spain isn't what it used to be, so de Gea will have plenty of chances this summer to show the world how excellent he is.
7. Unai Simon (Athletic Club/Spain)
Unai Simon split opinion throughout the 2020/21 season, making a few high-profile blunders on the one hand, but pulling off some incredible miracles as Athletic Club reached the Copa del Rey final – notably saving two penalties against Real Betis in the quarter-finals.
While Simon had a difficult season, he was also a huge presence in goal for Athletic Club in 2019/20, preserving 12 clean sheets and making 82 saves in 34 La Liga games. Sure, he seems to be a raw diamond as of now. However, Simon looks to be the future of the Spanish national team, and Enrique appears to be planning to give him significant tournament experience here.
6. Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City/Denmark)
Kasper Schmeichel has been a mainstay for Leicester City throughout the years, helping the team win the Premier League title in 2016 and, more recently, helping the club win their first-ever FA Cup. The Dane demonstrated his value in the final, making a series of world-class stops to hold Chelsea at bay.
Schmeichel struggles to command his box at times, but the 34-year-old possesses remarkable reflexes and has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to step up in crucial occasions. Denmark will not be concerned about facing players such as Romelu Lukaku, Artem Dzyuba, and Teemu Pukki this summer. Schmeichel's size allows him to go rough in the box, but he's also agile enough to make the exceptional save. He maintained a clean sheet in each of Denmark's World Cup qualifiers this year and is regarded as one of the team's most important leaders.
Kasper’s father Peter famously won the 1992 EURO title with Denmark, and while that may seem like a feat that isn’t possible to replicate, Kasper will be extremely crucial for anything Denmark achieve at this tournament.
5. Wojciech Szczęsny (Juventus/Poland)
Wojciech Szczesny, who was formerly on Arsenal's books, has gone on to enjoy a great career in Italy with Juventus.
Although Szczesny has been more error-prone this season than in past years, he remains a very excellent shot-stopper and will be a guy on whom Polish manager Paulo Sousa will rely in a group brimming with talent.
Szczesny and Juventus' most recent campaign was a roller coaster ride, with the Old Lady barely qualifying for the Champions League. But the player can be blamed for very little for the club’s problems, and he deserves a lot of praise for the part he played in the three titles they've won in his four years there, maintaining 38 clean sheets and conceding just 94 goals in 106 matches.
Szczesny's 6’4” frame allows him to use his size to block shots and command the box. He has a lot of experience playing in big games and should be a reliable force in net for Poland this summer.
4. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur/France)
Hugo Lloris is a famous figure in France and the last captain to lift the World Cup. He had a difficult season at Tottenham Hotspur, who required a last-minute victory on the last day to qualify for UEFA's third-tier tournament, the Europa Conference League. However, as the he has been one among the league's best shot-stoppers over the years and is a brilliant leader. He stumbled after a high-profile error in the 2018 World Cup final, despite France defeating Croatia 4-2. However, despite the fact that Spurs have been abysmal this season, Lloris was back to his former self, making incredible saves and passing with poise and perfection. During the 2020/21 season, Lloris stopped more goals (5.1) than any other Premier League goalkeeper.
His place in Didier Deschamps' France squad is undeniably certain. He has collected123 France caps since his debut in 2008 and has been a staple between the posts for Les Blues, but at 34 years old, he may be participating in his final European Championships.
Lloris, a strong leader of his excellent defence, will seek to continue on their performance in 2018 and complete the whole international set of trophies.
3. Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan/Italy)
Donnarumma, the heir apparent to Gianluigi Buffon, is 6'5" tall and is as commanding as his name. The Italian goalkeeper, who is only 22 years old, recently led AC Milan to a second-place finish in Serie A while keeping 14 clean sheets. Despite his height, Donnarumma is rather comfortable with the ball at his feet when he isn't making huge saves or snuffing out crosses. He has already earned a big transfer to PSG, and will be a hot contender to win the Golden Gloves award for an Italian team that hasn’t conceded a single goal in 8 matches.
There isn't much Donnarumma can't accomplish, and as time passes, his status as Gianluigi Buffon's long-term replacement appears more and more accurate.
2. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid/Belgium)
Thibaut Courtois has re-established himself as one of the world's finest goalkeepers during the past two seasons, first leading Real Madrid to the 2019/20 title, then to a second-place finish. Courtois has conceded the fewest goals (48) among the 12 La Liga goalkeepers who played at least 5000 minutes throughout that time. He is also tied at the top with Atletico Madrid keeper Jan Oblak with 35 clean sheets during that period.
Courtois lags behind some of his opponents in terms of talent with the ball at his feet, but he more than makes up for it with cat-like reflexes, and his massive size helps him to dominate his box and reach strikes that shorter goalkeepers would definitely miss.
Courtois has had a successful career, winning two Premier League titles and a Europa League title. Despite a star-studded lineup, he and Belgium have yet to taste international glory. Courtois will be playing behind an ageing defence that includes experienced defenders Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, and will have to be at his sharpest if the Belgians are to alter their luck at international tournaments.
1. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich/Germany)
Nobody comes close to Manuel Neuer, even at 35 years old, when it comes to shot-stopping, box clearance, and even getting involved in build-up play like a midfielder.
What else can be said that hasn't already been said? Neuer has been a key player in Bayern's recent success, which includes winning the treble in 2019/20 and retaining the Bundesliga championship this season. He’s now also the Bundesliga’s record-holder for clean sheets, recently recording his 205th shutout in a 2-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen.
Now that Marc-André ter Stegen has been ruled out of Euro 2020, there is no one to challenge Neuer for his position. Germany is seeking to avenge the humiliation of the 2018 World Cup, and it starts with delivering the consistently excellent performances we have come to expect from one of the world's finest keepers.