Having a reliable presence between the posts is an essential part of any Bundesliga team. Yet there are those who have stood out in the 2023/24 campaign so far for their tremendous efficiency numbers.
Here bundesliga.com highlights five of the best in class, a list that many may be surprised to find out is headed by a custodian from a team in the division's bottom three.
1. Marvin Schwäbe (Cologne), +7.2
There may be several reasons why Cologne are spending the winter break in the relegation zone, but Marvin Schwäbe is not one of them. Indeed, the Billy Goats' shot-stopper has prevented a disappointing campaign for Effzeh being even worse with some of his inspiring showings in the first 16 games of the current campaign. The statistics show that of the 50.8 xSaves Schwäbe was predicted to make, the 28-year-old came good with 58 saves. No other custodian in the Bundesliga bettered Schwäbe's goalkeeping efficiency of +7.2. The numbers make up for the fact that the Hesse native only managed to repel a slightly above-average 67 per cent of shots on his goal.
Watch: the best saves of 2023/24 so far
2. Lukáš Hrádecký (Bayer Leverkusen), +7.1
Just a few miles from Cologne, the mood is very different. Leverkusen are undefeated this season and sit proudly on top of the Bundesliga table during the winter break. The Werkself's goalkeeper Hrádecký has certainly played a key role in all of this. The Finnish veteran has not missed a single minute of the 2023/24 season and has conceded the fewest goals of any goalkeeper in the division (12). He is also the only German top-flight keeper to keep seven clean sheets. He blocked 80 per cent of efforts on his goal (a Bundesliga best) and has a goalkeeping efficiency of +7.1 (49 saves compared to an xSaves of 41.9).
Vote: choose your best goalkeeper of the season so far
3. Gregor Kobel (Borussia Dortmund), +6.7
Dortmund slipped away from the top of the table towards the end of the year but it wasn't down to any lack of form from goalkeeper Kobel. The Black-and-Yellows' Swiss saver impressed across the board in the first half of the year and is one of a top trio in terms of goalkeeping efficiency so far this season. According to Kobel's xSaves value, 54.3 saves were expected, but the BVB goalkeeper weighed in with 61. Overall, Kobel saved a solid 72 per cent of shots on his goal, which are pretty good numbers behind a defence that has not always delivered this term.
4. Kevin Müller (Heidenheim), +4.5
Coming up behind the Bundesliga's top three is a name that was relatively unknown before the season: Heidenheim's Kevin Müller. The 32-year-old had a surprisingly successful half year with the promoted side, with the Bundesliga newcomer doing brilliantly as part of a group that has brought Frank Schmidt's side into the division's top ten. With a goalkeeping efficiency of +4.5 (61.5 xSaves to 66 saves), Müller has notably been faced with a lot of shots (98), with only Darmstadt's Marcel Schuhen on the receiving end of more. The former Hansa Rostock player managed to save 66 of those. Only Hoffenheim's Oliver Baumann kept more shots out. Heidenheim's goalkeeper was also faced with the most big chances in the league (42) and he was able to fend off a solid nine of those, including a saved penalty (two further penalties were missed).
5. Alexander Nübel (VfB Stuttgart), +4.2
With some spectacular performances so far this term, Stuttgart are probably the surprise team of the season, especially having been involved in a relegation play-off only last summer. There are many notable names up front that have helped to take the Swabians to third place in the table, but further back, Nübel has quietly been doing his part for the Stuttgart cause. The Bayern Munich loanee has been highly reliable in the first 16 games of the season and boasts a goalkeeping efficiency of +4.2 (48 saves compared to 43.8 xSaves). Nübel has already kept an admirable six clean sheets this season (Bayer's Hrádecký has one more) and has fended off 72 per cent of shots on his goal. In the latter stat too, it is Nübel's Leverkusen counterpart who edges the Stuttgart man.
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