How do goalkeepers score points?

Clean sheets may be the name of the game, but for goalkeepers shot-stopping is the way to top the Castrol Performance Index rankings. And goals. Well, you never know!

There are 13 recorded instances of goalkeepers scoring from open play. That number could become 14 this summer, but there are easier ways for our international stoppers to accumulate points !

!Like distribution, for example. Long before the back pass rule was introduced in 1992, goalkeepers have been getting more involved in open play. Mid-20th century stoppers like Argentinian Amadeo ‘Tarzan’ Carrizo, for example, pioneered leaving the penalty area to defend the goal and using goal kicks as a strategy to start counter attacking plays: such distribution is rewarded by the CPI.

Most goalkeepers take goal kicks. Should they find their intended target with their clearance they’re rewarded generously. If their clearance leads to a flick on, or a goal directly then the increment is bigger. Similarly, if they give away possession they have points subtracted.

The same rule applies in open play. Goalkeepers often act as a sweeper and give their defenders an option when nothing else is on ahead of them. Again, if their team-mates win possession they’re rewarded. Short passes, though, earn fewer points. It means the ball is closer to their goal, thus giving the opponents more of a chance of winning possession in key areas.

A goalkeeper lives and dies by the number of goals he concedes. It’s no coincidence that the stoppers with the most clean sheets top the index. For example, when France stopper Gregory Coupet was top, after the qualifiers, he’d kept five clean sheets in seven games.

Yet it’s how goalkeepers perform that is rewarded by the Index. Coupet enjoyed another unblemished performance against England in his last friendly match before Euro 2008, but he had little to do. England failed to test him and he won just 65 points.

In contrast, Jens Lehmann kept Switzerland at bay with a string of saves during Germany’s 4-0 win. He had more of an impact on the score line (Switzerland had 10 shots on goal) and subsequently accrued 786 points.

The difficulty of the save is also taken into consideration. A weak shot from long range isn’t worth as much as, say, a point-blank save, while the direction of the ball is also significant. A save from a shot heading towards the top corner is rewarded more than one heading to the centre of the goal.