Courtois or De Gea? Lloris or Szczesny? Akinfeev or Pickford?

By Nigel Bidmead

The best individual performance your correspondent saw last season was by David de Gea at the Emirates in early December. He was magnificent that night.

Less so in Friday night’s 3-3 draw with Portugal.

He went the wrong way for the penalty and was motionless for the free kick. But it was Ronaldo’s second goal that ruined his chances of winning the Golden Gloves.

Shame really because Manchester United’s player of the season for four of the last five years was best placed to usurp Manuel Neuer, who has only played three games since returning from foot surgery in September.

Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris is another candidate and France could go deep. His decision making is sometimes questioned but defenders, and fans, appreciate a willingness to come off his line.

Another terrific performance last season was Ederson’s at Chelsea. His confidence on the ball is changing how teams scout keepers but, in a twist , he will likely be edged out of the Brazil team by Alisson who is the better shot stopper.

Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico had an excellent tournament in 2014 but, at 6′, finds himself stuck in the relative backwater of Belgian football because of a lack of height.

Size is also an issue for Thibaut Courtois. At 6’6” the Belgian is almost too tall and Lionel Messi exposed his weakness in March in the Champions League scoring twice through his legs.

With over 100 clean sheets Igor Akinfeev is a member of the Lev Yashin club – his easiest one was against the Saudis on Thursday. Let’s wait until Akinfeev faces a team that has prepared properly for the tournament.

Mat Ryan had a difficult World Cup four years ago but the Australian played his part in keeping Brighton in the Premier League. He’s going to be even busier over the next couple of weeks.

Kaspar Schmeichel, Rui Patricio and Keylar Navas are also a cut above the rest and Jordan Pickford has a chance to join them.

Which brings us to Woj.

As long as they play for somebody else, lunatic keepers are a joy and it would give this member of the union enormous pleasure if Wojcech Szczesny, the Arsenal reject, is hailed as the best in the world.

                                                   Nigel Bidmead is a radio journalist