The role of a goalkeeper is constantly evolving in football. Not so long ago, a goalkeeper would be tasked with stopping goals, which of course is fundamental. However, teams like Liverpool and Manchester City have shown how a goalkeeper, proficient in all areas, can lift a team to another level.
At the 2014 World Cup, Mexican goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa stunned the world with his miraculous display. Whilst he didn’t have a club at the time, this display earned him a move to La Liga. Ochoa, like many talented goalkeepers, have moved over the Atlantic to Mexico. Liga MX is renowned for its high number of shots and goals, therefore, a skilled goalkeeper is key for each team.
This data analysis will look at the best performing goalkeepers in Liga MX. This analysis will use statistics to evaluate the goalkeepers in a range of areas, from shot-stopping to passing ability. All goalkeepers considered will have played at least 10 games in the Liga MX this season.
For any goalkeeper, shot-stopping is a fundamental skill. As mentioned, Liga MX has one of the highest numbers of shots and goals each game. The football is very fast flowing, and possibly the defensive capabilities are much lower than in much larger leagues. Therefore, we will start with data which compares the number of shots per 90 and save %.
The above chart gives a good indication of how many shots each goalkeeper faces per game and the % that they save. Those towards the top right, face a high number of shots and also have a high save %. Those towards the top left, also face a high number of shots but have a low save %.
Two goalkeepers are closely grouped, having over 70% save success. FC Juárez goalkeeper, Iván Vázquez scores very highly in this area, saving 70.59% of the 5.05 shots he faces per 90. Similarly, Alfredo Talavera, now of UNAM, saves 70.47% of the 4.96 shots he faces per 90.
On-loan Necaxa goalkeeper, Hugo González, has the highest save % of all goalkeepers, with 73.57%. The 29-year old also faces a high number of shots per 90 with 4.67. Nahuel Guzmán is another goalkeeper with a high save %, with 73.33%. The Argentine did, however, face the lowest number of shots per 90, with 3.38.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have some goalkeepers who did not boast a great save %. Gibrán Lajud, who recently signed for Santos Laguna, had only a save % of 56.90%, the lowest in the league. Another goalkeeper who had a poor save % was Veracruz youngster Sebastián Jurado. The 22-year old faced 5.60 shots per 90, the highest in the league, saving only 58.33% of these. The young Mexican secured a move to Cruz Azul in the middle of the season, however, his poor statistics are likely due to Veracruz’s troubles in the Apertura.
These statistics provide a useful insight into how successful goalkeepers are in shot-stopping. However, as discussed above, the shots faced per 90 can depend on several things such as league position and defence quality. The next chart will compare each goalkeepers xG +/-.
The above charts look at xG +/-, which is effectively the actual number of goals conceded compared to the expected goals conceded. Those with a positive value have conceded fewer goals than expected, whereas those with a negative value have conceded more goals than expected. This is an interesting metric as it allows us to compare keepers who may be over performing.
Again, Nahuel Guzmán shows he is a very accomplished goalkeeper with an xG +/- of 2.67. There are only a handful of goalkeepers to have a positive value, showing how important it could be in this league.
Talavera is another keeper to have a positive value, as he only conceded 44 goals compared to his expected 46.64. Giving him an xG +/- of 2.46.
On-loan Pachuca goalkeeper, Rodrigo Rey, also impresses in this area with an xG +/- of 2.36. One of the only other goalkeepers to exceed their expected goals was Hugo González, as he conceded 1.83 less than he was expected to. And finally, we have Gil Alcalá, of Querétaro FC, who had an xG +/- 1.20.
On the other hand, we have goalkeepers who have conceded more goals than they are expected to. Unsurprisingly, the two goalkeepers with the lowest xG +/- are those who had the lowest save %. Gibrán Lajud had the lowest save % and also the worst xG +/- value with -11.85. Meaning the 26-year old Mexican conceded over 11 more goals than expected.
Sebastián Jurado also had a very low save %, and this is accompanied by his poor xG +/-. Jurado conceded 10.55 more goals than he was expected to throughout the season.
Below is a chart which examines each player’s claim/punch ratio. Punching has become more frequent in football as keepers avoid claiming the ball in case of any mistakes. However, successful keepers will be able to claim the ball when required and by doing so claim dominance in their penalty area. Some managers may prefer their keepers to punch the ball, however by claiming the goalkeeper can keep possession for his team and possibly start attacks.
The larger the portion, the greater the claim to punch ratio. Instantly we see that Talavera is extremely comfortable in claiming the ball with a ratio of 22. Talavera clearly favours this method as he completes 1.47 claims per 90 compared to 0.07 punches per 90.
Another goalkeeper with a high ratio is González, with 11.67. The Mexican has one of the highest claims per 90 with 1.17. He is also another goalkeeper who rarely attempts punches, with only 0.1 per 90.
It is important to consider that those with the highest ratio, do not necessarily have the most claims. Nicolás Vikonis has the second most claims per 90 with 1.43. The Uruguayan has a ratio of 5.38, as he also attempts 0.27 punches per 90.
Unsurprisingly, one of the goalkeepers with the most punches has one of the lowest claims to punch ratios. Rodrigo Rey attempts 0.36 punches per 90, compared to 0.52 claims per 90. Despite a low ratio, it shows that Rey likes to alternate his approach, another sign of a good keeper. Rey also boasts an 85% punch success, showing that when he does opt to use this method, his team often keep control of the ball.
Rodolfo Cota, of Club León, has the highest number of punches per 90 with 0.43. However, he also attempts 0.92 claims per 90, showing a good mix of both. This results in Cota having a respectable claim/punch ratio of 2.15.
Nowadays, teams require their goalkeeper to be good on the ball. Teams like Manchester City use Ederson as an 11th outfield player, so their passing ability is key. There is no correct way to use the ball, so the following graph will look at how the goalkeepers vary between short, medium and long passes.
Players towards the top right are those who have a large range of passing ability, varying between short/medium and long passes. Those towards the top left will utilise long passes more often. And finally, those who sit towards the bottom left, rarely engage in any type of pass.
Instantly, we see two key standouts. Nahuel Guzmán again shines as he attempts the most short/medium passes, with 15.05 per 90. He also has a high number of long passes with 8.33 per 90. In a previous tactical analysis, we highlighted how Tigres UANL use a possession-based game so it is very much expected for Guzmán to boast these statistics.
Similarly, Vikonis also has a high number of long passes with 9.31 per 90, the highest in the league. He completes slightly less short/medium passes, however, with 10.84 per 90. In the rest of the league, no other goalkeepers have over eight long passes per game.
Towards the right-hand side of the chart, we have a small cluster of players. These players all have a high number of short/medium passes as opposed to long passes. Sebastián Sosa and Alfredo Talavera both have a high number of short/medium passes with 11.53 and 12.26 per 90, respectively. Closely behind is Rodolfo Cota who completes 10.44 short/medium passes per 90.
Whilst, neither length of pass is better than the other, and it will ultimately depend on the teams’ style of play, there are a small number of goalkeepers who seem to be uncomfortable with the ball. Again, Sebastián Jurado does not cover himself in any glory as he has the lowest number of short/medium passes with 3.99 per 90. He also has a low number of long passes, only attempting 4.72 per 90. This is not to say Jurado is inefficient with the ball, for most of the season he was at a relegation stricken, now dissolved, Club Deportivo Veracruz. Therefore, using the goalkeeper as another outfield player was probably a low priority for them.
It’s all well and good for a goalkeeper to attempt a high number of passes, but the completion of these are what’s important. The next chart will examine pass accuracy % for all goalkeepers.
Sebastián Sosa has the highest pass accuracy with 90.69%. This accompanies his high number of short/medium passes (11.53), showing he is very accomplished with the ball. Alfredo Saldivar, now of Toluca, has the second-highest with 90.50%. Saldivar attempted a good amount of both short/medium (10.50) and long (5.55) passes per 90, suggesting he has a good range of passing ability.
Two keepers highlighted earlier as having a high number of short/medium and long passes were Vikonis and Guzmán. Both of these have a good pass accuracy %, with 83.20% and 85.14%, respectively.
Alfredo Talavera has been very consistent throughout this data analysis and continues to shine here. The veteran has a pass accuracy % of 87.16%, which is very impressive with his high number of short/medium passes (12.12 per 90).
This shortlist is not necessarily the best goalkeepers in the league, as each team will look for different qualities. The players selected have been consistent throughout the analysis, and also were three of the goalkeepers to boast a positive xG +/-.
Hugo González – The Monterrey goalkeeper, who spent the season on loan at Necaxa, had a very good season. Monterrey keeper, Barovero is nearing the end of his career so González will be hoping this season will make him the number one choice. The 29-year old saved 1.83 more goals than he was expected to and also finished with nine clean sheets. He boasted a league-high save % with 73.57%, and also completed 88.44% of his passes. The Mexican has shown he is very comfortable with the ball in his hands and with his feet.
Nahuel Guzmán – Guzmán was a real stand out in all areas. The Argentine has been at Tigres UANL for over six years and has had a lot of success. Again, he had a very high save % with 73.33%, only beaten by González. Possibly Guzmán’s greatest statistic is the fact he saved 2.67 more goals than expected. This is something that could win games for his team and is further supported by his 10 clean sheets. Guzmán is also very skilled with the ball, as he attempts the most short/medium passes with 15.05 per 90. This is accompanied by a fantastic 85.14% accuracy.
Alfredo Talavera – One of the oldest goalkeepers in the league, however, shows no signs of slowing down. The veteran has just ended his 10-year stint with Toluca to join UNAM, who will acquire a very good goalkeeper. Again, he impressively saved 2.64 more goals than expected, with a decent save % of 70.47%. Whilst not achieving as many clean sheets as the other shortlisted players (five), Talavera’s dominance is something that can’t be undermined. The Mexican has by far the most claims per 90 with 1.47, resulting in a claim/punch ratio of 22. Another very accomplished goalkeeper with the ball as well, as he completes 87.16% of his passes.
This data analysis has examined the best goalkeepers the Liga MX has to offer. Liga MX is well known for its attacking football, so a solid goalkeeper is a key to success. Like most leagues, a lot of the goalkeepers are in the later stages of their careers. Vikonis and Talavera are both nearing the end but show they are more than capable to continue. There are also some younger keepers yet to reach their peak, such as Hugo González, who will certainly be one to watch over the next few years.