El Centrocampista

Stat Attack: A season of ups and downs for La Liga’s goalkeepers

There has now been 30 games played in the 2011/12 La Liga season and over the past seven months, goalkeepers have put in performances that have ranged from world class to distinctly second class.

For  a second straight season, goalkeepers in the Spanish league have been rather irregular when it comes to appearances for their clubs. During the 2010/11 campaign just three goalkeepers managed to play throughout the season’s 3420 minutes, and this time around only a slightly better six are still in with hopes of playing the full season. While, only Claudio Bravo can achieve a second consecuative season of 38 matches if he plays in all eight remaining games. It has to be said that a lot of this has to do with some rather poor performance from several goalkeepers.

For example Betis and Rayo have used three goalkeepers in an effort trying to find somebody good enough, while Málaga have being force to use three goalies due to Willy Caballero’s injuries. Valencia have continually rotated between Guaita and Diego Alves while Casilla at Espanyol, Palop at Sevilla and now Racing’s Mario Fernández  have become their teams number one choice after poor performances from their predecessors.

Rayo’s situation is perhaps the most interesting, all three goalkeeper have played at least 10 games, with Dani leading the team with eleven. However the interesting fact is that all three have been less than emphatic in their performances. None have managed to stop at least 63% of the shots on target, while La Liga average is over 70% (70,32%). Joel, the current starter, is not making a great case for himself as he has stopped just 56% of the shots on target, that’s the worst percentage amount for keepers with at least 10 starts and his average of 2,20 goals conceded per game is also the worst in Spain.

Interesting enough Rayo are fourth last in La Liga in conceding the highest number of shots on target per shots with 38,4% while Betis, another team that has played three goalkeepers, lead the league conceding on target  40,2% of their shots. This perhaps means that their goalkeeper’s poor performance has more to do with a bad defence that with individual ability.

The completely opposite has happened at Betis’s city rivals, Sevilla. Varas started the season magnificently and was, without doubt as the best goalkeeper in La Liga, saving 86.21% of the shots on target he received in the first 13 games. After that he went through a bad streak that saw his percentage drop by 11%. However, with 75,27% he still has the second best percentage between goalkeepers who have started at least ten games.

So we have to wonder why Míchel decided to change goalkeepers when he arrived at Sevilla. However, and amazingly, Palop has managed to emulate Varas in performance. He has saved 82,98% of the shots on target he had received, making him statistically the best goalkeeper in the second half of the season.  Palop has been so effective that he has managed 39 saves in nine games, just ten less that Valdés all season.

Talking of Valdés, Barcelona’s goalkeeper is going through another fantastic season of clean sheets. Last year he managed 17 clean sheets in 32 games, and this time around he has picked up 16 in 30 matches. However, last season Valdés managed 82 saves while this year he has picked up 49 so far.

After 30 games the leaders in saves in La Liga are Roberto from Zaragoza and Iraizoz from Athletic. The Basque goalkeeper has managed 59 saves in the second half, more than any goalkeeper in the league, to climb to equal top, where Roberto has been for quite awhile. Only six goalkeepers have reached the 100 saves so far this season, with Andrés from Osasuna and Munúa from Levante being the only two in teams with a legitimate chance of playing in Europe next season. While Moyá from Getafe and especially Juan Pablo from Sporting are been more concerned with avoiding relegation.

Last but not least, another interesting statistical total for La Liga goalkeepers this season is that no one has managed to make at least two penalty saves. While last year Diego Alves stopped an impressive five, Toño three and Kameni stopped two spot kicks.

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