By Rebecca Coles
The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 is now fully underway, with some exciting and shocking results within its first week.
The tournament will showcase many world-class female goalkeepers, but many critics of the women’s game still suggest that keepers are well below the level of outfield players. Here are five examples of the best goalkeepers that will look to prove them wrong.
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Nadine Angerer – Germany
Nadine Angerer, the female version of Manuel Neuer, is widely regarded as one of the best female goalkeepers in the world. Angerer was the hero of the hour back in 2013, when she saved not one, but two penalties during Germany Women’s Euro final victory over Norway. Leader of the German team and one of the most experienced goalkeepers around, 36-year-old Angerer is a veteran of four World Cups, and a two-time winner. Angerer will be a definite starter throughout WC 2015 for Germany; her influence and experience could prove telling at the key moments.
Hope Solo – USA
Hope Solo is the USA’s No. 1 and has been one of the best rated female goalkeepers in the world for the best part of a decade. Despite Solo’s traits as a player, however, a series of incidents have shifted the media’s focus onto her off-field activities. The World Cup provides the perfect opportunity to take the spotlight away from her private life, and despite having played just one game, Solo’s show-stopping saves are showing her critics where their attention should be.
Karen Bardsley – England
When Karen Bardsley broke her leg in college, there were worries that her career might well be over; years down the line and currently England’s number 1, who would have thought it? Bardsley was first-choice goalkeeper for England at the 2011 World Cup and at Euro 2013, as well as for Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics. Although she faces competition from Arsenal’s Siobhan Chamberlain and Notts County’s Carly Telford, Bardsley has the knowledge and experience to keep her place, and to even bring the World Cup home.
Erin McLeod – Canada
‘Right to Play’ ambassador Erin McLeod is a two-time Canadian Player of the Year runner-up, and she also holds a bronze medal for starting goalkeeper at 2012 Olympics. Fearless and confident, McLeod is playing in her third Women’s World Cup. She kept a clean sheet in her first game, as an injury-time penalty from Christine Sinclair fired Canada to a nail-biting 1-0 win over China.
Melissa Barbieri – Australia
Melissa Barbieri’s story is one of a kind. At the age of 35, Barbieri is a mother of two, has made a return to football in peak physical condition, and has sold memorabilia to raise money in order to keep her and her team mates playing. She may be Australia’s second-choice goalkeeper, but that doesn’t stop her from being highly rated for this World Cup. After regular No.1 Lydia Williams suffered a corked thigh, Barbieri started between the posts against USA – her first competitive start for the Matildas since 2012 – and she will be hoping that her surprise appearance won’t be her last despite a 3-1 defeat.
It may have been a keeper’s World Cup for the men last year, but I am sure that the girls in goal are set to cause quite a stir this summer. Will Karen Bardsley be able to retain her No 1 position? Can Melissa Barbieri remain off the bench? Which goalkeeper will come out on top out of Solo v Angerer?
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