With two squads that are packed with so much quality, it is almost easy to forget which fundamental principle makes Manchester City and Liverpool so great – their goalkeepers.
Alisson and Ederson are Brazil’s premiere shot-stoppers and have both been two of Europe’s best since their introduction to English football. It’s perhaps quite unfortunate that they both must battle it out for the same spot internationally, however.
Historically, the Liverpool no.1 has been preferred by Brazil, making 54 caps compared to Ederson’s 18 in total. But the pair, despite playing the same role, have some very different traits.
It’s not outrageous to say Ederson is significantly better with the ball at his feet. That’s not to say Alisson is poor, but the City keeper’s ability to pick out a pass short or long range is unrivaled in world football.
In last year’s Champions League semi-final second leg, Ederson managed to pick out the advancing run of Oleksandr Zinchenko, under huge pressure from the Paris Saint-Germain forward line, about 70 meters down the field. That pass led to City’s opening goal and a first-ever Champions League final appearance was all but secured.
Alisson is still an excellent ballplayer. In fact, it’s hugely evident when the 29-year-old is unavailable that Liverpool’s defense struggles to play out from the press – and that’s all about having faith in your goalkeeper.
On the other hand, Alisson does possess a slightly higher save percentage than Ederson this season – 75.9% compared to the City keeper’s 74.6%. But Liverpool have faced 83 shots on target to City’s 67, conceding two more goals in the Premier League alone.
Criticisms of the City keeper from the clubs fanbase have, rather unfairly, been his shot-stopping. But the bare facts are that his side of him rarely grants clear-cut opportunities where he’s needed to make a crucial save.
There’s a reason you constantly see images of Ederson stood almost droid-like on the halfway line as he watches his teammates switch the ball flank to flank, looking to break down a low block.
It’s perhaps underrated that for 85 minutes, the 28-year-old may hardly have a touch of the ball but is always on hand to make a vital stop, or play his part in the build-up when called upon.
With both keepers sitting on 18 clean sheets apiece, it looks like it could be a two-horse race once more for the Golden Glove award. Ederson currently holds two – in back-to-back seasons – but Alisson will be looking to add to his 2018/19 award by the end of the campaign.
This weekend’s crunch clash in the Premier League will go a long way in determining the destiny of the title, but it will also showcase two of the best goalkeepers in the world – who will both have a huge part to play.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.