Belgium World Cup Squad: Goalkeepers
Belgium, like almost any side, are stronger in certain areas of the pitch than in others. Between the sticks is one position that de Rode Duivels do not have any worries in with a strong set of goalkeepers travelling to the World Cup
The undisputed number one of the national team after another great season at Atletico Madrid. In his second season in Spain he has added a league title to his résumé and made the final of Europe’s premier competition the Champions League where Atletico lost 4-1 to city rivals Real Madrid.
Undoubtedly one of the best goalkeepers in the world at only 22-years-old he may be looking to cement himself as the number one goalkeeper at Chelsea from next season. Having spent the last two seasons in Spain on loan it seems he may be ready to usurp Petr Cech as starting goalkeeper for Chelsea as they look to improve on last seasons third place finish in the English Premier League.
One of Courtois’ biggest assets is his long, slender body. His 6′ 6″ frame cuts an imposing figure in goals for opposition strikers, his wingspan will feel like it reaches either goalpost and despite his size his agility is still at the peak allowing him to claw shots away from all areas of the goal. He’ll start for Belgium in goal, he knows it and he expects all his understudies to accept it and be happy for him having recently bemoaned how the other Belgium goalkeepers have stated their desire to become number one for the country.
When you lead the English Premier League for long periods only to falter at the last hurdle, it’s hard to imagine you would not be close to figuring in the coach’s national team plans but Simon Mignolet finds himself exactly in that position.
He’s a quality goalkeeper and despite playing for a team that seemed to concede on a regular basis, at least for a title fighting side, he was rarely in the firing line himself. His agile reflexes kept Liverpool in several matches including the season opener at home to Stoke when he saved a late penalty. If Mignolet does have a problem it’s while he’ll instinctively stop a shot from three yards, he’s more prone to spilling a long range shot or a deep cross and presenting the opposition a chance to score.
Mignolet will travel to Brazil as back up, having not even appeared in any of the three warm-up friendlies before the tournament and on the surface it feels like he may forever be number two to Courtois. So the chances are Mignolet will never get much international recognition despite his talent.
Zulte Waregem’s goalkeeper will be a surprise inclusion to the Belgium squad for the trip to Brazil having originally started as about fifth choice goalkeeper. Koen Casteels of Hoffenheim was third choice which would have rounded out probably the strongest goalkeeping trio at the World Cup but a shin injury had him fighting for fitness.
Silvio Proto was then the next choice but a broken arm in the league finale as his Anderlecht team sealed the title against Lokeren put paid to that. Given Proto’s statements about being third choice goalkeeper in the past you’d wager his anger at the challenge probably rankled him more for spoiling his title celebrations with Anderlecht rather than forcing him out of the trip to Brazil.
So it came down to Sammy Bossut who would have to wait on the fitness of Casteels before being confirmed in the squad. In the meantime he made his international debut against Luxembourg but his first cap was subsequently revoked following Marc Wilmots making one too many substitutions. It was the biggest injustice of the whole affair, as despite travelling to Brazil it’s unlikely Bossut will ever get another international cap for les Diables Rouges. Bossut had acquired a reputation for making high-profile gaffes but has matured into one of Francky Dury’s most trusted lieutenants in the ever-impressive Essevee outfit.