Guillermo Ochoa was outstanding against Brazil, but did the USA and Everton’s Tim Howard surpass him against Belgium?

It has been a World Cup full of attacking play and incredible goals, but two of the best performances of the tournament so far have been turned in by the men between the sticks.

First, Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa was a brick wall in his side’s 0-0 draw with Brazil in the group stage. Ochoa foiled attack after attack as the hosts toiled away for ninety minutes but failed to break the deadlock. He also pulled off the save of the tournament.

Now, however, Tim Howard produced an equally astounding display in the USA’s heartbreaking 2-1 extra-time loss to Belgium. Howard kept the Belgians at bay for 90 minutes before finally being beaten in extra time.

But statistically speaking, which was the superior goalkeeping performance – Ochoa’s or Howard’s.

  Team Pos Mins Saves Punches Cross Claimed Loose Ball Claimed Smother Keeper Sweeper
Guillermo Ochoa Mexico GK 90 6 1 1 7 1 1

First a look at the Mexican’s display. Ochoa made six hugely important saves against Brazil at a rate of one save every 15 minutes. This was his highest single-game save tally of the World Cup, and the fact that this display came against the World Cup hosts makes it all the more impressive.

Ochoa was also an imposing figure in the penalty area. He claimed seven loose balls, claimed one cross and punched another, illustrating the command he had over his box, and also came out to clear another. But where Ochoa truly excelled was in the most important category of all – he conceded no goals.

  Team Pos Mins Saves Punches Cross Claimed Loose Ball Claimed Smother Keeper Sweeper
Tim Howard USA GK 120 15 3 1 13 1 0

When looking at Howard’s display against Belgium one statistic instantly jumps out – his incredible 15 saves. Even with the extra half an hour of play that number is ridiculous, averaging out at a save every eight minutes. Much like Ochoa, he was a real presence in his 18-yard box, claiming 13 loose balls and tallying three punches.

Howard was regularly the last line of defence in a game in which Belgium had 39 attempts on goal. He kept them at bay for the first 90 minutes, but eventually conceded twice in extra time. Kevin de Bruyne beat him with a low drive, before Romelu Lukaku powered a high drive past him.

In the end, Ochoa’s performance kept Mexico in the tournament while Howard was unable to keep the USA’s World Cup dream alive. However, the United States would have been dead and buried had their goalkeeper turned in an average performance, and we will not see a better display of shot-stopping in this tournament.

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