Atlético Madrid's Oblak ends 2018 with most clean sheets in Europe
The Slovenian has prevented the opposition from breaching his net in 27 of the 50 games he has played, at a rate of just 0.72 per game.
Jan Oblak has completed another great year at Atlético Madrid, with more and more people pointing to him as the best goalkeeper in the world. As the end of the calendar year draws to a close, FourFourTwo magazine have, for example, named him the best stopper of 2018, and the ninth best player overall in the world. And his numbers make him stand out from his gloved rivals.
Oblak, Atleti and clean sheets
The Slovenian number one has been the tightest of all goalkeepers across Europe's 'big five' leagues. No other keeper in England, Spain, Italy, Germany or France have been able to leave the field with as many clean sheets as Oblak, with the only one coming close being Liverpool's new number one, Alisson Becker, who spent the first half of the year at AS Roma.
The Atleti man finished 2018 without having conceded in 27 of his 50 matches. In the 23 games that he did 'allow' his opponent to score, he conceded only 36 goals, meaning an average of 0.72 per game. The Brazilian also notched up 50 game in his spells across both Serie A and the Premier League, and was unbeaten in 24 of those. His average of 0.86 goals per game owes much to the second half of the year, reaching the half-way point of the league season with Liverpool having conceded just seven goals. With Alisson still having one game to play before the year end - Arsenal at Anfield on 29 December - he will still be unable to overhaul the clean sheet total of the Madrid-based stopper.
In terms of average goals against, only the Polish keeper Wojciech Szczęsny has a better rate than Oblak. As Juventus run away at the top of Serie A, the man who replaced Gianluigi Buffon after the legend's summer sale to PSG has seen significantly fewer games for comparison. His goals conceded rate ends the year at 0.56, but that is across 20 games fewer than Oblak. In his 30 matches he has conceded 17 times in 13 games, keeping 17 clean sheets along the way.
De Gea, Ter Stegen, Courtois...
Much attention has been given to the heroic performances of Manchester United's David de Gea and Barcelona's Ter Stegen, as well as the Chelsea-Real Madrid split Thibaut Courtois, but, as can be seen from the table below, none of them can compete with the performances of Oblak, a critical factor in Diego Simeone's side picking up the Europa League title.
Some people will, of course, point to the simple narrative of the more defensive style of Atlético's playing its part in the shut-outs. There is no denying, however, that the reason the 25-year old is being touted as a potential big-money signing for many of Europe's richest clubs is because of the difference he could make to any team.
|Player||Clean sheets||Games played||Goals conceded|
|Ter Stegen||17||47||50 (1.06)|
|De Gea||13||42||47 (1.11)|
|Anthony Lopes||13||41||52 (1.26)|