Jan Oblak: The wall behind Diego Simeone's tactics
- Jan Oblak has been a crucial part of Diego Simeone's defensive set-up for years.
- The Slovenian international is now finally being recognised as the best shot-stopper in the world.
After playing a crucial role in Atletico Madrid's progression in the Champions League, Jan Oblak is finally getting the recognition he deserves as the wall behind Diego Simeone's tried and trusted tactics of an iron-clad defence. The Slovenian shot-stopper kept his side in the game against a rampaging Liverpool on more than one occasion, taking the game to extra-time where Atlético silenced Anfield with a famous win.
Although the game wasn't the first time Oblak's heroics were on display in the Atlético Madrid goal, it was perhaps his most impressive showing as the Slovenian international saved 9 out of the 11 Liverpool shots on target.
Oblak has undoubtedly become one of the very best goalkeepers in the modern game with a save percentage of 80.2% since 2014, saving 431 of the 537 shots on target against him. These are numbers that no keeper in Europe has come close to, highlighting just how hard it is to score past him. The 27-year old's consistency has been key to this Atlético Madrid side which has failed to find their best form this season, leaving them fifth in La Liga (45 from 27 games).
It has to be said that the Atlético Madrid defence is not to blame for the former La Liga champion's downfall this season. In fact, their back-4 have shipped just 21 goals in the Spanish league this season, a record only Real Madrid have bettered. However, in contrast to the defence this season, Atléti's attacking force has struggled to impress - scoring just 31 goals so far this season.
In an Atlético side struggling for goals and much-needed wins in La Liga as they look to finish in the top 4 for the 7th season running, Oblak's heroics are all the more important.
When comparing Oblak to other top keepers around Europe this season, it is clear to see that the Slovenian is the best around. He has more clean sheets (11) than both Alisson Becker and Marc-André ter Stegen. Oblak also boasts a better goal conceded per 90 minutes than ter Stegen, who also has been part of a struggling defence at Barcelona this season.
Perhaps one weakness of Oblak is his ability on the ball compared to Alisson and ter Stegen. Alisson holds figures of 25.8 passes completed per game with a pass success rate of 86.8% whilst ter Stegen shows similar numbers with 31.9 passes completed with a success rate of 85.5%. Oblak, by some contrast, completes an average of 22 passes per game with a lower success rate of 53.1%. Oblak may be the best shot-stopper around with an unmatched save percentage, but he lacks the ability with the ball at his feet that other top keepers around Europe possess.
But after his performance against Liverpool, nobody can deny the fact that he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and the wall behind Simeone's tactics.