Is RB Leipzig's Peter Gulacsi (l.) overtaking Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer (r.) as the Bundesliga's best goalkeeper? The idea is not as far-fetched as you might first think. - © 2019 DFL
Is RB Leipzig's Peter Gulacsi (l.) overtaking Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer (r.) as the Bundesliga's best goalkeeper? The idea is not as far-fetched as you might first think. - © 2019 DFL

Is Peter Gulacsi the Bundesliga’s best goalkeeper?


That RB Leipzig remain top of the Bundesliga table after four rounds of matches is in no small part thanks to Peter Gulacsi, who underlined his claim to be the league's top goalkeeper with a sensational display in the 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich on Saturday.

It is, perhaps, a bold statement to make, especially given that four-time World Goalkeeper of the Year Manuel Neuer was at the other end of the pitch.

Yet it was in fact the very presence of the Germany No.1 that brought Gulacsi's efforts into sharper focus: with Neuer, the exceptional has become so routine that it is now considered normal. Gulacsi matching him stride for stride, however, was new, and there was a sense of opinions shifting over the course of the 90 minutes.

All the more so given Leipzig's poor start to the match, with Robert Lewandowski putting Bayern ahead inside three minutes. And while Gulacsi was powerless to keep that goal out, the Hungarian made sure he would not be beaten again.

The visitors dominated the first half at the Red Bull Arena and Leipzig only remained in the game thanks to the 29-year-old's subsequent saves from Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry, among others, before the interval.

Emil Forsberg's penalty on the stroke of half-time drastically altered the course of the match, with Leipzig improving considerably in the second period, but Gulacsi's job was far from done.

By the end of the game he had kept out six of the seven shots at his goal, while Neuer stopped four out of five. Gulacsi's performance was about more than just shots saved, though, impressive as his numbers were.

Watch: Bundesliga legend Oliver Kahn analyses Neuer and Gulacsi

He was also involved in his team's build-up play, completing more passes (10), than Yussuf Poulsen and Lukas Klostermann, for example, and having more touches (40) than Timo Werner.

Gulacsi also dominated his penalty area and his reflexes in the second half in adjusting to a deflected shot from Kingsley Coman that threatened to loop over him and into the net were outstanding; Gulacsi managed to tip it onto the bar.

His positioning was also first rate. Niklas Süle had the chance to win it for Bayern with the last touch of the game, but his goal-bound header was flicked past the post by Gulacsi's fingertips.

These are the kind of fine of margins that matter at the highest level, details that are often the difference between the elite and the rest. And Gulacsi proved without doubt which category he falls into.

Gulacsi ensured Leipzig took a hard-earned point from their game against Bayern with this fingertip save to keep out Niklas Süle's (l.) last-gasp header. - imago images / Sven Simon

It was no one-off, either. Last season he kept more clean sheets than anyone else (15), conceded just 27 goals in 33 league games and kept out a greater percentage of shots than any other custodian (77.6 per cent). Neuer, by way of contrast, kept 10 clean sheets, saved 59.6 per cent of efforts at his goal and conceded 23 times in 26 appearances.

"Pete was the best goalkeeper last season and today his performance was also great," enthused Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann after the final whistle. "You need a very good goalkeeper if you want to be one of the best teams in the league, and Pete is one of the best goalkeepers in the league.”

Another few displays like the one against Bayern, and Nagelsmann may be forced to revise that view of Gulacsi upwards.