Football Features

The best starting goalkeepers at Euro 2024

By CJ Smith

Best starting goalkeepers at Euro 2024

Published: 17:58, 7 June 2024 | Updated: 9:37, 18 June 2024

Whether it’s keeping out a last-minute effort or becoming the hero in a penalty shootout, goalkeepers invariably play a key role at any major tournament. 

That’ll be the same this summer at the European Championships in Germany and it’s a tournament that will undoubtedly have a high number of elite goalkeepers. Nations like Germany and Italy have always sported a world-class No.1, which is perhaps a big part of why they’ve been so successful on the international stage.

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So, who are the best goalkeepers at Euro 2024? Here’s our top 10:

10. Dominik Livakovic

Croatia are in a tough group for Euro 2024 alongside Spain and Italy, and they may need Dominik Livakovic on top form. The Fenerbahce goalkeeper kept 14 clean sheets in the Turkish Super Lig in 2023/24, with only one shot-stopper keeping more. He also made 64 saves and completed 139 long passes.

For Croatia Livakovic has been the man in between the sticks for Croatia at two major tournaments now, keeping goal at Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup. At the latter, he saved three penalties in a shootout win over Japan and another one in the victory over Brazil.

9. Wojciech Szczęsny

Despite reports suggesting he’ll be replaced practically every year, Wojciech Szczęsny is still going strong as the Juventus No.1 and last season alone, he kept 15 clean sheets in 35 Serie A appearances to help the Old Lady return to the Champions League. The 34-year-old also made the decisive penalty save to book Poland’s place at the Euros ahead of Wales and will be expected to perform such heroics in a tough group that also contains France, the Netherlands and Austria.

8. Yann Sommer

Sommer has always been a supremely underrated goalkeeper but since joining Inter last August, he’s finally getting the credit he deserves. The Swiss No.1 kept 25 clean sheets in 43 matches for the Nerazurri across all competitions last season, helping them win their first Scudetto since 2021 and the Supercoppa Italiana. Sommer is just 12 caps short of a century for Switzerland and has done brilliantly to hold onto the jersey in the face of serious competition from Dortmund’s Gregor Kobel. He’ll be hoping to take Switzerland past the round of 16 for the second time running at the Euros to close in on 100 caps.

7. Peter Gulacsi

Given how long he’s been RB Leipzig’s No.1 and among the best goalkeepers in Europe, it feels like a lifetime ago since Peter Gulacsi spent time on loan with Tranmere Rovers and Hereford. He heads into the Euros having won his place back for Die Roten Bullen following a cruciate ligament tear and the form of Janis Blaswich during his absence. Gulacsi has conceded just 15 goals in 18 games across all competitions, while he prevented 1.4o goals in the Bundesliga alone despite just 13 appearances.

He’ll play a key role for Hungary as they take on Switzerland, Scotland and, of course, hosts Germany.

6. Unai Simon

His proneness to the odd inexplicable error pushes Unai Simon down this list slightly. However, he’s still capable of incredible saves and is as cool as ice with the ball at his feet. Simon has already won titles with Spain across various youth levels and, so, has experience in high-pressure situations. He’ll have to be at his best to help La Roja negotiate a group containing Italy and Croatia. David Raya is pushing him for Spain, but at the moment it feels like Simon will be first-choice, even if the Arsenal goalkeeper has been given the No.1 shirt.

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5. Jordan Pickford

Jordan Pickford has been criminally underrated for years and, without him, Everton simply wouldn’t be a Premier League team anymore. Of course, he’s famously always given his best for England, whether through eye-catching saves at key moments in big games or standing tall in penalty shootouts. Pickford has made saves in shootouts against Colombia at the 2018 World Cup, Switzerland at the 2018/19 UEFA Nations League Finals, and Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

The Three Lions are among the favourites for the tournament but will still have to lean on their shot-stopper at some point.

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4. Mike Maignan

Mike Maignan has been linked to become Manuel Neuer’s successor at Bayern Munich, so perhaps this could be an audition on German soil for the Frenchman? It’s no surprise to see him so highly thought of. After all, Maignan has developed at a remarkable rate since joining AC Milan from Lille in 2021 and, at the time of writing, he now has 44 clean sheets to his name with just 111 goals conceded in 110 appearances for the Italian giants. That form helped the Rossoneri end an 11-year wait for a Serie A title last season, while also reaching the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since winning the competition in 2007.

3. Gianluigi Donnarumma

The man who Maignan replaced at the San Siro, Gianluigi Donnarumma has already experienced so much in football. Still only 25 years old, Donnarumma is a three-time Ligue 1 champion and heads to the Euros looking to help Italy defend their crown, as well as protecting his own Player of the Tournament award from the last edition. The Italian has already become so accustomed to winning and his habit of pulling off huge saves in key moments could help Luciano Spalletti’s men go deep once again, despite modest expectations.

2. Jan Oblak

There is arguably no goalkeeper that will carry more responsibility for his team than Jan Oblak this summer. The 31-year-old recently surpassed the 200 mark when it comes to clean sheets for Atletico Madrid, while he’s conceded just 368 goals in 446 appearances for the club overall — winning La Liga and Europa League titles along the way.

At times, Oblak’s shot-stopping abilities and command of his box can make him feel like an immovable object in the Atletico goal. At international level, he’s by far Slovenia’s greatest talent and will certainly be busy at Euro 2024 as he comes up against the likes of Harry Kane, Rasmus Hojland and Dusan Vlahovic during the group stages.

1. Manuel Neuer

To see a Manuel Neuer error effectively cost Bayern Munich a place in the Champions League final recently was cruel. Especially given just how much the veteran has looked back to his former self recently after some injury issues. But let’s make no mistake, Manuel Neuer is still one of the very best goalkeepers on the entire planet, let alone just in Europe.

He’s a man who has redefined what it means to be a goalkeeper and has arguably paved the way for the likes of Ederson and Alisson to succeed so much with their progressive style. And even at 38, his reflexes remain cat-like, pulling off some saves that seem to defy the very laws of physics.

Given the pressure Germany will be under as hosts this summer, Neuer’s experience and leadership will prove crucial and he’ll be desperate to go out on a high with this quite possibly his last-ever international tournament.

That would come as music to the ears of Marc-Andre ter Stegen who, despite being one of the world’s best goalkeepers himself and Barcelona’s No.1 for the past eight years, has been restricted to just 40 senior caps. Eight of those caps came in 2023, when Neuer — boasting 118 caps — was out injured.