We’re now turning onto the SECOND team of the All-Bundesliga, my fake awards for the Hinrunde of the 17\18 season.
Goalkeeper – Péter Gulácsi
The Hungarian goalkeeper has had a long road to finally being a top keeper. Having joined the Liverpool academy at age 17, Gulácsi would spend six difficult years, mostly toiling away in practices as the second\third choice keeper behind Pepe Reina and on loan-spells at Tranmere Rovers, Hereford United and Hull City, before moving to RB Salzburg in the summer of 2013, then moving on to sister club RB Leipzig in 2015. Similarly, despite being one of the heroes of the 2009 – U20 World Cup bronze medalist Hungarian team, it would take him three more years to get a call-up to the national team and 5 more to make his debut. Whether it’s a case of bad luck again, or just never being great enough, Gulácsi was forced to play second fiddle behind Hertha and Hungary legend Gábor Király, who even at age 40 was the preferred option at Euro 2016. Such was the uncertainty surrounding the Leipzig keeper, that his team even signed Yvon Mvogo from Young Boys in the summer for 5m Euros! There was talk that although he had helped Leipzig to get promoted from the 2nd Bundesliga, the Hungarian was one of the weaker links for a Leipzig team now in the Champions League. Case in point, the German magazine kicker had him as the 11th best keeper in the division with a 2.89 rating last season, while Instat had him at no 14. Oh how quickly things change!
In the Hinrunde, Gulácsi was rated as the top keeper by kicker, with a 2.63 average. Instat has him as the second best goalie behind Sven Ulreich (307 rating) with a 290 score. (He’s ranked 10th by Squawka and 12th by Whoscored, who tend to value racking up numbers more). Looking at his goals conceded we find that this Hinrunde it’s 24 (removing the one where Yvon Mvogo was in goal for the Augsburg match) from 16 matches – 20 if we remove the 4 penalties – for a non pen goals against average of 1.25, which is higher than 39 in 33 for 1.18 per game, with 2 pens removed to give a 37 NPGAs – 1.12 avg. It would suggest that his performance has not been better. But let’s dig a little deeper:
While he has had some clunkers – the Gladbach 2-2 draw, or the Gnabry wondergoal from 45 yards, the Frankfurt game which they won 2-1, a howler vs. Monaco in the Champions League – those more or less didn’t cost his team too many points.
His heroics in the DFB Pokal match vs Bayern, where he played his best game where sadly for nothing, but there were several others where his saves were key:
- the save on poor Sven Schipplock from 4 yards at 1-0 against HSV, where the rebound let to the outlet by Kevin Kampl that Timo Werner flew down the pitch with to seal the game with the second goal
- key saves to hang on to 1-0 lead vs Stuttgart on Chadrac Akolo and Takashi Asano
- good saves on Aubameyang and Yarmolenko in the 2-3 win against BVB
- two really good saves from about 8 yards against Fin Bartels (both chances were over .25XG each!) at 1-0 against Werder
- several solid saves against Mainz – Holtmann and Donati the victims
- Wolfsburg scored just the Paul Verhaegh penalty despite racking up 1.8 XG after the 75th minute, and although even if we remove Origi’s .62 XG and a few others blocked\missed that still leaves .75 XG saved by the RBL keeper in 15 minutes!!!
How many times was he just hung out to dry by his defense ? I’ve reviewed the video and come back with some evidence:
- Konoplyanka runs 65 yards unchallenged to make it 2-0 for Schalke
- complete tap-in for an unmarked Rebic on the far post to make it 2-1 vs Eintracht
- Auba goal after Ilsanker error
- Lewy breakaway, as CBs leave him
- Jonathas is allowed to get in behind by CBs to score for H96
- Bailey’s clever finish – a 40% chance from close rang
- Volland’s slam dunk from 4 yards vs Leverkusen
- Amiri’s first goal – total screwup
- Gnabry’s second goal – walks it in because of a dreadful offside line
- Uth’s fourth goal – three defenders leave him 5 yards of space 9 yards from goal
- Super save on Brosinski free kick, Quaison acrobatic finish to rebound – where are the defenders?
- Davie Selke’s first goal was preceded by four defenders ballwatching\failing to intercept a ball driven across the box
- Selke’s 2nd goal was a side volley from a set piece, where he was unmarked on the six yard box….
- Yuya Osako’s header from 4 yards after a flawless cross for Cologne (that must’ve been a first!!)
3 other goals where Gulácsi had not much of a chance on James’ great finish, though no blame on his defense, and no chance on Berggreen equalizing header from a Mainz corner that made it 2-2. That’s the case for Salomon Kalou’s bullet header from 6 yards from a set piece.
4 penalties are taken out, though all were caused by his CBs screwing up and\or getting sent off in the process. They were: Upamecano getting owned by di Santo vs Schalke, then clipping Auba at the edge of the box, Bernardo fouling Jonas Hofmann after a quick throw into the box, and Konate fouling Mario Gomez in the six yard box after a counter.
Weird goals – (1)Gnabry chip from 45 yard and I’m fine with blaming him, I guess.
Could’ve done better:
1 -Niederlechner’s goal – great play\great finish to the corner, but perhaps ?
2 – Stindl’s equalizer was really well hit, albeit from a good bit outside the box. I could’ve also put this in the blame his defense part, because Keita\Demme went Benny Hill on each other for the ball on that one.
So there you have the 24 that Gulácsi conceded, and he’s more or less at fault for maybe 2-3 of them, if we wanna be strict. So, it’s no surprise that RBL has rewarded him with a contract extension until 2022! That seems to be a good idea, as the Hungarian keeper has even attracted interest from the Premier League, with Chelsea and Arsenal scouting him against Bayern, per ESPN. Ralf Rangnick has repeatedly praised him after some of his weaker games and was excited about the contract extension. In an interview that was published today by the leading Hungarian sports newspaper Nemzeti Sport, Gulácsi was very humble about having been voted “the best keeper in the Germany” noting that “goalkeepers are difficult to evaluate” and while he “was thrilled to have positive feedback that puts him among the better GKs in Germany” he “wouldn’t go as far as saying” he “was the best”.
Well, I almost went that far.Stay tuned for the best GK of the Hinrunde!