Thursday marks the last day of the break between the World Cup quarterfinals and semifinals, and the last chance the remaining teams have to prepare for the next round. Many of the surviving teams can thank their goalkeepers for helping them along the way, and several of those players rank high to take home this year’s Golden Glove award.
The Golden Glove is given to the best goalkeeper of each edition of the World Cup. This award, which was called the Lev Yashin Award before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in honor of the legendary Soviet goalkeeper, has been won by a number of legendary goalkeepers over the years.
Michel Preud’homme took it for Belgium in 1994 and Germany’s Oliver Kahn received it in 2002. Iker Casillas picked it up for Spain in 2010 before Germany got it again in 2014 through Manuel Neuer’s performance. Of the eight teams still standing now, a few names stand out.
Going for the Gold
Alisson Becker has been on point with his performance in the net. When he’s not defending for Brazil, the Liverpool goalkeeper has gone above and beyond. So far in this World Cup, almost no balls have gotten past him, which is why BetMGM favors him for the Golden Glove award at +150.
Argentina has Lionel Messi controlling the ball on the field, but Emiliano Martinez controlling the net. He’s been the team’s savior more than once already, notably against Australia, and is now at +380 to win on BetMGM.
Jordan Pickford was lower in the rankings when the World Cup games started, but has moved up. When he’s not playing Fortnite to distract himself during his off time, he’s lighting up England’s net. Iran scored two goals against the team, but no one else has scored since then. Pickford is now +750 on BetMGM.
No list of Golden Glove candidates would be complete without Yassine Bounou. Morocco’s goalkeeper has allowed only one goal in more than 390 minutes. Not even Spain was able to get past him in the Round of 16. BetMGM has him at +1400, but that could change soon.
Dominik Livaković has been putting on a performance for Croatia. Danijel Subašić set a high bar in Russia in 2018, but there is no doubt that the Dinamo Zagreb goalkeeper has lived up to his predecessor’s performance. At +1800, he’s among the longest to win, but he still deserves recognition for what he’s accomplished.
Ronaldo In, Enrique Out
Cristiano Ronaldo may have differences with Portugal’s head coach, Fernando Santos, but only because of his fiercely competitive nature. After not starting in the team’s game against Switzerland, Ronaldo is finally calming down and setting aside his issues to lead Portugal to victory.
The alleged malaise started when Ronaldo was substituted at the end of the group stage against South Korea. His departure in the 65th minute to make way for André Silva, after scoring a penalty goal in the first game against Ghana, didn’t sit well with him. His anger escalated when he learned that he wouldn’t start against Switzerland in the Round of 16.
Because Portugal deftly defeated Switzerland without one of its best talents, there isn’t much pressure to start Ronaldo against Morocco. Santos is reportedly going to let him play, but not as a starter.
Spain’s embarrassing performance against Morocco will go down in history as a major failure, and will also forever mark the career of coach Luis Enrique Martínez, who is no longer in command of the team.
The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF, for its Spanish acronym) is parting ways with Martínez, whose contract expired at the conclusion of the World Cup. It’s heading in a different direction and has confirmed that Luis de la Fuente, until now the technical director of the sub-21 team, will be his replacement.
de la Fuente played for 17 years in Spanish soccer with several teams, starting with Bilbao Athletic in 1978 and returning to them in 1991. After that second stint, which lasted two years, he moved to Alavés for a season. Since then, he’s managed several teams and will now be charged with doing better than Martínez.
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