Alisson and Ederson repairing the reputation of the Brazilian goalkeeper edit
Not since the days of David Seaman and Peter Schmeichel has the Premier League witnessed a proper goalkeeping rivalry- a water cooler debate over who is truly top of the stops in England’s top flight. In Alisson of Liverpool and Ederson of Manchester City, it feels like we have two custodians vying for supremacy.
That they are both from the same country adds some flavour to the duel. The stereotype that Brazil does not produce good goalkeepers has endured for decades. Partially, this is routed in the poorly conceived stereotype of Brazilians as purveyors of ‘joga bonito’, footballers born with an inherent ‘magic’ from playing barefoot on the Copacabana with caipirinha in hand.
It is not an image that sits well with goalkeepers. The image also has its roots in Moacir Barbosa fumbling a Uruguay shot into his own net during the ill-fated 1950 World Cup Final, where Brazil endured a shock defeat to Uruguay at the Maracana in Rio. Despite a stellar career between the sticks, Barbosa never lived his error down and it haunted him for the rest of his days.
Ederson and Alisson’s arrivals into the Premier League have not only altered the perception of Brazilian goalkeepers, but have also emphasised the extent to which the role itself has changed in recent years. Ederson’s distribution with his feet makes him more than a glove butler for Pep Guardiola, he is a genuine creative force for his team- an 11th outfield player. Opponents genuinely have to include Alisson and Ederson in their dossiers when they try to decipher how to stop City and Liverpool.
It is often said that he could play in midfield at a high level. Alisson’s skills with his feet are slightly less eye catching than Ederson’s array of passing, both short and long, however, his distribution makes him a valuable part of Liverpool’s build-up play too. These are players that have solved problem positions for Liverpool and City respectively for reasons beyond catches and saves.
It is a shame that Ederson’s recent injury rules him out of this Sunday’s showdown between England’s top two at Anfield. Brazil’s number 1 and 2 goalkeepers are flying the flag for their nation for reasons beyond their handling skills. Given the “jogo bonito” stereotype, it is perhaps apt that they have repaired the reputation of Brazilian goalkeepers, largely be being such fantastic footballers too.