Football Features

The top 10 best goalkeepers at Euro 2020: “He has been one of the best in the world for many years”

By CJ Smith

Published: 13:22, 4 June 2021 | Updated: 14:00, 29 June 2021

Of the 624 players making their way to this summer’s European Championships, 72 of them are listed as goalkeepers.

That’s a lot of shot-stoppers but, of course, only one per team can start each game and while some nations have a standout No.1, others face a fierce battle to man the posts.

Whether it’s a penalty save, a last-minute finger-tip to deny a striker or even a calamitous error, goalkeepers exert a huge influence over the outcome of a match and in the melting pot of the Euros, their actions can be the difference between glory and failure.

So, which goalkeepers should you be keeping an eye on this summer? Below is an opinion-based list of the top 10 going to Euro 2020.

A quick note to readers before we get started that all figures from qualifying exclude play-offs and Nations League fixtures.

Feel free to let us know what we got wrong or submit your own top 10 on Twitter.

10. Lukas Hradecky (Bayer Leverkusen/Finland)

  • FanTeam price: 4m
  • Qualifying record: 8 goals conceded, 6 clean sheets, 9 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals scored in qualifying): Denmark (23), Russia (33), Belgium (40)

With Finland making their major international tournament debut in a group alongside Belgium, Russia and Denmark, you can expect Lukas Hradecky to be one of the busiest goalkeepers at the Euros this summer.

But the Bayer Leverkusen stopper is well up to the task. Hradecky kept eight clean sheets and made 56 saves in the Bundesliga this season while, with the ball at his feet, he completed the third-highest number of passes (903) among ‘keepers in the German top-flight. Most tellingly, during the time Hradecky was injured, Bayer Leverkusen conceded 1.75 goals per 90 minutes with Lennart Grill between the sticks for four games, while Niklas Lomb allowed four goals in his two appearances. Hradecky, on the other hand, conceded just 1.02 goals per 90.

Hradecky will have to call upon all of his goal-denying talent to give Finland a chance this summer.

9. Peter Gulacsi (RB Leipzig/Hungary)

  • FanTeam price: 4m
  • Qualifying record: 11 goals conceded, 2 clean sheets, 8 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals scored in qualifying): Portugal (22), France (25), Germany (30)

If there’s one goalkeeper who could be busier than Hradecky at the Euros it’s Peter Gulacsi. That’s because Hungary, who finished fourth out of five in their qualifying group with just eight goals scored and only making it here via the Nations League, have been drawn in a group alongside holders Portugal, world champions France, and tournament behemoths Germany.

But at least in Gulacsi, they have a Champions League proven goalkeeper with wonderful control over his penalty area and exceptional shot-stopping abilities. With the prospect of facing Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Serge Gnabry and Co, he’s going to need that entire arsenal.

8. David de Gea (Manchester United/Spain)

  • FanTeam price: 6.5m
  • Qualifying record: 2 goals conceded, 1 clean sheet, 3 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals scored in qualifying): Sweden (23), Poland (18), Slovakia (13)

David de Gea is battling for his No.1 spot at both club and international level right now, with Dean Henderson making his case at Old Trafford and Unai Simon currently getting Luis Enrique’s approval.

That’s because mistakes have punctuated the Spaniard’s game in recent years but it doesn’t make him a less-incredible shot-stopper. Should Simon go down injured or Enrique look for more major tournament experience, they don’t come much better than De Gea, who kept 12 clean sheets in 36 appearances across Premier League and European play in 2020/21.

7. Unai Simon (Athletic Club/Spain)

  • FanTeam price: 6m
  • Qualifying record: N/A
  • Group stage opponents (with goals scored in qualifying): Sweden (23), Poland (18), Slovakia (13)

Unai Simon divided opinion during 2020/21, making a few high-profile errors on the one hand, but pulling out some absolute heroics as Athletic Club reached the Copa del Rey final — including saving two penalties in the quarter-final against Real Betis.

And while the season was tough for Simon, he was also a monumental presence between the sticks for Athletic Club in 2019/20, keeping 12 clean sheets and making 82 saves in 34 La Liga appearances. A diamond in the rough, sure. But Simon appears to be the future for the Spanish national team and Enrique seems set to give him major tournament experience here.

6. Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City/Denmark)

  • FanTeam price: 5.5m
  • Qualifying record: 6 goals conceded, 4 clean sheets, 8 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals scored in qualifying): Finland (16), Belgium (40), Russia (33)

Kasper Schmeichel has been a stalwart for Leicester over the years, keeping the Foxes safe as they won the Premier League title in 2016 and, more recently, helping the club lift their first-ever FA Cup. In the final, the Dane proved his worth with a string of world-class saves to keep Chelsea at bay.

Schmeichel sometimes struggles to command his box, but the 34-year-old has incredible reflexes and has shown his ability to step up in big moments time and again. Denmark won’t be worried one bit about facing the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Artem Dzyuba and Teemu Pukki this summer.

5. Wojciech Szczęsny (Juventus/Poland)

  • FanTeam price: 5m
  • Qualifying record: 3 goals conceded, 4 clean sheets, 6 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals scored in qualifying): Spain (31), Sweden (23), Slovakia (13)

According to reports, Juventus are looking to lure Gianluigi Donnarumma to Turin from fierce rivals AC Milan this summer. If that’s the case, Wojciech Szczęsny will likely be looking for a new club. The former Arsenal goalkeeper has proven himself a reliable shot-stopper and a commanding presence for the Old Lady in recent years and if he is available, a host of clubs are likely to queue up for his signature.

The most recent campaign was an up and down affair for Szczesny and Juventus, who barely managed to scrape Champions League qualification. But the player himself can be blamed for very little of the Old Lady’s struggles and has plenty of credit in the bank for the role he’s played the three titles they’ve won during his four years there — Szczesny keeping 38 clean sheets and conceding just 94 goals in 104 Serie A appearances during that time.

4. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur/France)

  • FanTeam price: 7m
  • Qualifying record: 4 goals conceded, 3 clean sheets, 6 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals scored in qualifying): Portugal (22), Hungary (8), Germany (30)

Hugo Lloris had a little wobble after a high-profile mistake in the 2018 World Cup final, despite France going on to beat Croatia 4-2. However, despite Spurs being pretty awful this season, Lloris was back to his old self, pulling off remarkable saves and distributing with composure and precision. In fact, Lloris prevented more goals (5.1) than any other Premier League goalkeeper during 2020/21.

The 34-year-old heads into this tournament with a massive 124 senior international caps under his belt and with experience of European Championships and World Cup finals already, you’d take him as a safe bet to keep France safe when called upon.

3. Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan/Italy)

  • FanTeam price: 6m
  • Qualifying record: 2 goals conceded, 3 clean sheets, 5 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals scored in qualifying): Turkey (18), Wales (10), Switzerland (19)

As mentioned, Donnarumma might be on the move this summer, which would be a huge blow to AC Milan. The 22-year-old already has 251 club games to his name, while he’s been capped for Italy 25 times and is now their undisputed No.1.

Donnarumma comes into the Euros off the back of a Serie A campaign in which he kept a joint-league-high 14 clean sheets (tied with Samir Handanovic) and conceded just 38 goals in 37 appearances, despite being called into 92 saves.

There isn’t really much Donnarumma can’t do and as the years go by, his billing as Gianluigi Buffon’s long-term successor looks more and more on the money.

2. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid/Belgium)

  • FanTeam price: 7m
  • Qualifying record: 2 goals conceded, 7 clean sheets, 9 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals scored in qualifying): Russia (33), Denmark (23), Finland (16)

After an initially tough start to life in Madrid, Thibaut Courtois has re-established himself as one of the world’s best goalkeepers over the past two seasons, first helping Real to the 2019/20 title, then to a second-place finish. Courtois conceded the fewest goals (48) among the 12 La Liga goalkeepers to play 5000+ minutes during that time, while he sits level with Jan Oblak with a league-high 35 cleans sheets, though he played four fewer games than the Slovenian.

Courtois is slightly behind some of his rivals when it comes to ability with the ball at his feet, but he more than makes up for that with cat-like reflexes, while his giant frame allows him to command his box and reach shots that would surely slip beyond smaller goalkeepers.

He is the undisputed No.1 for Belgium and key to Roberto Martinez’s hopes at the Euros.

1. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich/Germany)

  • FanTeam price: 6.5m
  • Qualifying record: 6 goals conceded, 5 clean sheets, 7 appearances
  • Group stage opponents (with goals scored in qualifying): Portugal (22), Hungary (8), France (25)

From shot-stopping to clearing out the box, and even getting involved in build-up like a midfielder, nobody comes close to Manuel Neuer, even if he is now 35 years old.

What more can be said that hasn’t already? Neuer has been a giant figure in Bayern’s recent success, including winning the treble in 2019/20 and retaining their Bundesliga title again 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.

“Experience is one thing, but he was able to maintain this high level in terms of his reactions and his speed and that isn’t always easy,” Germany coach Joachim Low said of Neuer late last year. “Even after his bad injury when he was out for almost a year, he picked up straight where he left off in the following months. Realistically, he has been one of the best goalkeepers, or even the best goalkeeper, in the world for many years.”

If not his final international tournament, this might well be Neuer’s last European Championships and he’ll be desperate to right the wrongs of the 2018 World Cup.