Underrated keepers in this season’s Champions League group stage

There are underrated goalkeepers surprisingly at the top of UEFA Champions League 2023/24 stats during the group stage.

The competition’s group stage has been completed, with some unexpected downfalls from two English sides, Newcastle United and three-time Champions Manchester United. They both headed to the exit earlier after finishing at the bottom of the group table. 

Despite sharing the same outcome with a failure to even secure one spot in the Europa League playoff, their goalkeepers’ form has been quite in contrast. The Magpies’ Nick Pope is one of the unexpected names in the UCL group stage goalkeeping stats this season, whereas the supposedly best shot stopper in the 2022/23 campaign, The Red Devils’ Andre Onana, had a plummeting performance this season. He has even been deemed one of his team’s weakest spots on their backline.

So, who has been at the top of the goalkeeping stats in the 2023/24 season so far? Apparently, the likes of Manchester City’s Ederson, Barcelona’s number one, Marc ter Stegen, or Inter Milan’s Yann Sommer are not even on the top of the list. In fact, the ones in the top five will not even be playing at the UCL’s knockout stage. What is more, only two of them are well-known: Nick Pope, and former England number one, Joe Hart. They both are only on the fourth and fifth consecutively. Here are those underrated goalies in the top three.

Alexander Schlager (RB Salzburg)

The 27-year-old RB Salzburg man is one of the best three goalkeepers on the Champions League group stage this season. He was named the man of the match twice, as he kept the clean sheet while beating Benfica 2-0 in Lisbon and holding Real Sociedad in a goalless draw. In the latter game, he managed to parry Brais Mendez’s long range shot and Take Kubo’s curling free kick.

Overall, he made 27 saves and conceded eight goals in six games. Unfortunately, his great contribution could not help the Austrian side progress to the knockout stage. They suffered a 3-1 loss while playing host to Benfica in the final match of the preliminary round, which saw them finish bottom of the group on goals scored.

Schlager has earned 14 caps for the Austrian national team. He just signed for Salzburg this season after his six-year stint at LASK. He was once loaned out to the RB Leipzig U19 team back in the 2014/15 season.

Antony Racioppi (Young Boys)

The 24-year-old shot stopper is the next one on the list. He made 31 saves in five games, but conceded 11 goals. Racioppi was quite impressive when the Young Boys took on the defending champions, Manchester City. He was able to save seven attempts from Pep Guardiola’s side, including double shots in a row within less than a minute, before the Cityzens’ opener from Erling Haaland’s penalty.

Unfortunately, his team was still beaten 3-0 on the road. However, unlike Schlager, the former Dijon man has a chance to continue their continental campaign after securing third place. Young Boys’ 2-0 win over Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) was crucial to helping them get through.

Racioppi has yet to make his international debut for Switzerland but is considered a talented figure. The shot-stopper who helped Young Boys win the domestic double in the 2022/23 season can be an ideal replacement for Yann Sommer in the future.

Omri Glazer (Crvena zvezda)

The Israeli international is surprisingly at the top of the list. Despite conceding 15 goals at the group stage, he was able to make 31 saves in six fixtures. Glazer put on quite a show in the first two matches while Crvena zvezda took on the reigning champions Manchester City, and RB Leipzig. The 27-year-old goalie denied 13 attempts, including three from Erling Haaland, and seven attempts, respectively. Yet, his impressive form could not prevent the 1991 champions from a 3-1 defeat on both occasions. Such resulted in his team’s failure to even snatch one spot in the Europa League this season.

Omri Glazer is one of Crvena zvezda’s new signings in 2023. He previously played for Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Maccabi Haifa before joining the Serbian champions in the summer. The shot-stopper with 12 international caps was also named Israel’s top tier’s best goalkeeper in the past two seasons.

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