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David De Gea vs Thibaut Courtois

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This may raise a few eyebrows but human anatomy is actually a very important factor in enhancing the performance of a goalkeeper, so which of De Gea or Courtois are more adapted for success?

Goalkeepers need height, physical strength and long limbs, allowing them to catch balls, intercept crosses and block as much of the goal as possible. Both De Gea are Courtois invariably tower over opposing strikers and centre-backs, with De Gea coming in at 1. 93m (6ft 4″), but it is Courtois who has the height advantage of the two, with the Belgian standing at 1.99m (6ft 6.5″ tall)

Height of course is not everything: one needs strength to go with it. As teenagers, it was evident that both Courtois and De Gea possessed great talent and potential, with both of them having the right attributes needed to be top goalkeepers in the future. However, one of their biggest flaws was their lack of command and physical body strength: De Gea had a slight frame, and despite towering over his team-mates, Courtois was all skin and bones. Whilst both – Courtois in particular – maintain elements of their adolescent lankiness, they have made vast improvements with their body strength, and both now command their area and are able to dominate opposing players at set-pieces. However, surprisingly De Gea, despite being 6ft 4″ tall, weighs only 76kg with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 20.8. Courtois, on the other hand weighs 91kg and has a BMI of just under 23 (22.9 to be precise). This can give us an indication as to who has the greater proportionate strength, which is a vital requirement in goalkeepers, and by the looks of things Courtois just edges it.

The final key anatomical and physiological factor needed in a goalkeeper is leg/arm span, and as you would expect, Courtois has the advantage yet again, largely due to being 6cm (2.5 inches) taller.

Therefore, in terms of the ideal physique needed for a goal keeper, Courtois is pretty much the perfect specimen – sheer height, gangly and elongated limbs compounded with good body strength, a sense of command and a self-confidence and assurance. De Gea is not far off, but Courtois just has a physical advantage over his Spanish nemesis.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, this does not matter in the slightest: these attributes all become irrelevant if one makes mistakes, or is incapable or inefficient at stopping shots, but analysing the physiques of these goalkeepers can help us compare their strengths and weaknesses, and it may just suggest that Courtois has the better biological tools needed for growth and improvement.

The thing with Courtois is that he makes saves look easy purely because of his height, and therefore does not always get the recognition he deserves. Whilst others do acrobatic dives or punches, Courtois will just stand up and catch the ball with effortless ease, therefore making it look easy, whereas a dramatic dive or punch makes the shot look harder.

Verdict: Courtois


David De Gea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois

About Dan Culyer

I am a 17 year-old sport fanatic - particularly when it comes to football, formula one, tennis and swimming/ water polo! I am a part-time sports journalist, as well as a fully qualified football referee! I particularly enjoy doing in-depth opinion pieces, with detailed analysis of players, teams and tournaments!

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