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Football News: Football Comparisons 4 - Schmeichel v Van Der Sar v De Gea

Football Comparisons 4 - Schmeichel v Van Der Sar v De Gea
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Comparison 4 - Edwin van der Sar v Peter Schmeichel v David de Gea


Three of the best Manchester United goalkeepers of the Premier League era. Actually no, the three best Man Utd goalies of the Premier League era. All high quality keepers, but surprisingly different in their style of play.

The problem is that their styles are so different, it makes it extremely difficult to draw a genuine fair comparison. You have van der Sar, who would be very comfortable in the modern era, who was as good with his feet as his hands. Schmeichel, the all-encompassing presence filling the penalty area and totally dominating it. Then there is de Gea, the out-and-out shotstopper, who just gets anything in the way of the shot to keep it from crossing the line.

Command of the Area: There is only one winner in this area of the game, Schmeichel, who was one of the best ever in this respect. He did not just command it, he dominated it completely. That area was his and his alone throughout his playing days. Van der Sar was good at controlling the area as well, though it was not one of his strongest aspects. De Gea, on the other hand, struggles to command his area. It is a weakness of his game.

Communication: This would be another of de Gea's weaker points, he is not the best communicator, he is far too quiet and almost withdrawn. Schmeichel was a decent communicator, mainly, though at times he was too busy giving his defenders stick to communicate with them effectively. This is an area van der Sar did excel in. He was an exceptional communicator, extremely good at organising his defence in front of him.

One on Ones: This one is close, all three keepers were (or are in de Gea's case) excellent when facing down a forward running at them. However Schmeichel has an edge here, purely due to his command of the area. A forward would often mess up out of fear when they saw Schmeichel coming out towards them. Very few players could maintain their composure with the big Dane bearing down on them with his famous starfish block. De Gea is the next best, simply because his reactions and agility are so good he can often get a foot to something he should have no hope of getting to.

Eccentricity: Neither van der Sar nor de Gea are really what you would consider eccentric as goalkeepers, even Schmeichel's eccentricity did not come in the form of something that was detrimental to his game. Schmeichel's came in the form of his treatment towards his defenders, the constant shouting and bawling, which might even have helped them play better.

Dealing With Crosses: This is another area that that de Gea struggles with, in part due to a lack of command over the area. He never seems comfortable coming off his line full stop, but to deal with crosses in particular. De Gea is happiest to wait for the ball to come to him and stop it, rather than moving out to get to it. The other two were both strong in this area, particularly Schmeichel who would clean out everything to gather the ball.

Catching: Schmeichel stands out as head and shoulders above the other two in this area of the game. He was excellent at plucking the ball out of the air and holding on to it. The other two tend to punch it more than they catch it.

Kicking: Van der Sar is head and shoulders ahead in this area of the game, he was good enough to still be top class in the modern area. Whereas de Gea is poor with his feet, he is not the keeper for possession-based system or for playing out from the back. He often panics when the ball is at his feet. Schmeichel was decent for his time, but a long way off the level of top class sweeper-keepers, it was not his game.

Agility: There is little comparison here, de Gea is streets ahead of the other two, and most keepers for that matter, in this area. He is extremely agile and it is one of the keys to his game. Van der Sar was not the most agile of keepers, but he was agile enough to make him a very solid keeper but the weakest of the three in this area as Schmeichel was surprisingly agile for his size. The Dane was a big unit, but he was able to throw himself around like a much smaller guy and it was often surprising how agile he was.

Technique: The three of them have a completely different way of playing, their techniques are very different. De Gea is all about just getting anything in the way of the ball, making a lot of saves with his feet, which are a big part of his keeping, surprisingly so as his kicking is so poor. It is all about being quick and agile and just being in the right place. Schmeichel on the other hand was about being big and bold. He frightened attackers into losing composure and hitting their shots at him. Schmeichel was fearsome and seemed to fill the whole goal. Van der Sar was technically almost perfect. In fact, looking back at him now, he seems almost robotic in his technique as it was so precise.

Aggression: Schmeichel's aggression was a big part of his game, he would bowl everyone out of his way, defenders and attackers, to get to balls crossed into the box. There was no stopping him bulldozing a path to catch it. Neither of the other two have quality. They are both a bit on the timid side.

Bravery: Without a doubt Schmeichel comes out on top of this metric. He would plough through whatever was in the way to get to the ball and he would face down an onrushing attacker with no fear. Schmeichel was a bulldozer of a goalkeeper, while van der Sar and de Gea do not have that same bravery to just go and take the hits in order to catch the ball. More so de Gea, who is happier to stay on his line and not keen to come out and take the physical battering.

Throwing: A key feature of Schmeichel's game was his ability to throw the ball accurately for long distances to set an attack going. He was one of the best ever in that particular aspect of the game. Neither of the other two are outstanding at throwing the ball out, you very rarely, if ever see de Gea launch an attack with a throw out or a kick to be honest. It is a weakness of his play.


Suggested by mbd

Written by Tris Burke February 15 2020 22:01:05


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