El Centrocampista

TOP OF THE STOPS – The Spanish keeper that heads Europe


There are some fantastic goalkeepers around Europe, in fact Spain has some of best of them in Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas, Liverpool Pepe Reina and Barcelona’s Victor Valdes,

There’s also Petr Cech at Chelsea, Gianluigi Buffon at Juventus and Manuel Neuer at Bayern Munich.

However, you may be a little surprised to read that according to a popular statistics site, the continent’s top keeper is actually a player many people may not be too aware of.

According to whoscored.com and using detailed OPTA statistics for the top five leagues in Europe, going into this weekend’s games the stats reveal  Granada CF goalkeeper Roberto Fernández Alverellos, or simply “Roberto” as he’s commonly known, sits on top of the pile.

Even with Granada CF struggling in 17th place in La Liga and very much in the thick of a relegation battle, prior to the 5-1 defeat away to Real Madrid, Granada boasted the second lowest league goals conceded, behind Barcelona.

It’s not just how many goals a goalkeeper has conceded that contribute towards their statistical ratings however. In 18 games, Roberto has saved an incredible 154 shots on goal, conceding only 23 times.

His distribution also ranks highly, with a pass completion percentage of 59.9%.

With five man of the match awards in those 18 matches, which included a 10/10 performance in Granada’s shock win at Sevilla earlier in the season, he’s very quickly beginning to make a name for himself.

Soon to be 33 and having only enjoyed a previous top flight season with Osasuna, (before losing his place to former Manchester United flop Ricardo), he’s quite literally grabbed his opportunity at Granada with both hands… if you’ll excuse the pun.

As a key part of Granada’s hopes for survival this season, he’s a highly popular figure with the fans and his continued form will be vital, if the club is to enjoy more time in the top flight.

He’s not the tallest keeper around at 1,81 meters (or 5’11”), but his bravery, agility, shot stopping and reflexes have certainly thwarted countless certain goals for opposing teams this season.

Obviously his performances haven’t gone unnoticed. Leading up to the January transfer window, there had been rumours that both Sevilla and Valencia were showing interest.

While there have been no official bids as yet, it’s believed that they and other interested club are continuing to monitor his performances, with a view to declaring interest in the summer.

Granada CF and their fans certainly won’t want to lose such a crucial player, whilst Roberto has repeatedly stated that he’s only interested in doing his best for the club, to help them achieve permanence in Liga BBVA.

He instantly became an icon at the club during the promotion play-offs, when the semi-final second leg against Celta Vigo went to a penalty shoot out.

Roberto stepped up to score a penalty, then immediately followed that with the decisive save to win the tie. All this despite having suffered an injury to his retina in the first leg, plus heavy bruising around the eye, he refused to relinquish his place in the team.

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