Shot Stopper and Sweeper Keeper: Two Goalie Styles that Define Football

Football is a game of scoring. The goal of the game, no pun intended, is to score as many points as possible. It is, therefore, no wonder that the players that tend to rise to the top of the sport are the strikers and forwards. 

Attack and Defense

As the ones closest to the enemy goal, forwards are most likely to score. The forwards who specialize in scoring are called strikers, and they are usually the players who attain great prominence. Think of names like Messi, Ronaldo, Mbappe, etc., and you’ll notice that what they all have in common is that they are strikers.


As important as scoring is, often the flashiness and excitement of an incredible goal takes away from the other aspect of football; the defense. Defensive players are all but forgotten, and goalkeepers barely get talked about. However, their role on the court is just as important as anyone’s. That is why, in this article, we would like to talk about two goalie styles that define the game of football.


The Importance of a Goalie


To many, the goalkeeper is little more than the last line of defense in a football match. If the opposing forward has maneuvered past the back-players, it is up to the goalie to protect the ball. However, in a lot of people’s minds, the importance of the goalkeeper ends there. However, a lot of goalkeepers themselves feel otherwise. 


A good goalkeeper understands that, not only does a play end with them, but also, it begins with them. That means that your average goalie must be flexible, dexterous, and agile enough to block an oncoming attack, but he must also be wily enough to set up his teammates for a proper play. It is for this reason that the goalie is a valued player in any team, and it is also why sportsbooks will often change their odds depending on the skill of the goal keeper.


As online sports betting continues to grow in popularity, many fans are looking to the latest sports events that they can wager on. And since football is one of the most popular sports (with both the Copa America and UEFA EURO in full swing), most naturally land on that. Those interested in betting on football in Germany will almost certainly be familiar with Manuel Neuer, and his rather unique style of goal keeping. 


Interestingly, it is precisely Mr. Neuer who is responsible for this new term that many are using to describe certain goalkeepers – Sweeper Keeper. But, just what is a sweeper keeper, and how does it differ from a shot stopper? 

The Sweeper Keeper


Who can forget the 2014 World Cup, when Germany won a staggering and grueling game against Argentina, with a score of 1 – 0? Germans were celebrating well into the late hours, and players were being congratulated left and right. Among them, was Manuel Neuer, who was named best goalkeeper during the tournament. Indeed, he is widely considered to be the best in the world to this day.


During the tournament, Neuer shocked not just the opposing team, but the public and even his German fans, by rushing out of goal, and seemingly taking on the position of another center-back. The disoriented players, in their confusion, lost the ball, and Neuer went down in history as one of the greats, alongside Lev Yashin and Gianluigi Buffon. 


There are debates as to whether Neuer was the creator of the so-called “Sweeper Keeper” style of goalkeeping. However, he was certainly the first to pull it off at a major event like the World Cup, and he was certainly the first to popularize it. The style got its name from the fact that a goalkeeper would “sweep” behind the high-line, seemingly changing positions entirely.


Pros and Cons of the Sweeper Keeper


But, what are the benefits of the Sweeper Keeper style? The sweeper keeper can perform quite a lot of defensive maneuvers away from the goal. For example, a skilled sweeper can recover the ball, intercept, clear, and even catch it away from the goal, reducing the time necessary for starting his own team’s play. In other words, the Sweeper Keeper acts not only as the last line of defense, but also as the first line of build-up.


The disadvantage of the style, perhaps, is self-evident to some. The goalie must leave their post in order to sweep. Which means, if they get outmaneuvered, the goal is completely open, and gives the enemy a clear shot. That is why, some have said that the sweeper keeper style brings a sense of risk back into football, and we tend to agree. However, could this be a positive? 


The Shot Stopper


Shot stopper has often been used as a colloquialism to describe a goalie, so it is no wonder that the traditional, some might say antiquated style now bears that name. The shot stopper plays their position the way it was intended back when football first became prominent. They remain within the bounds of their eighteen yards, never once taking the eyes of the prize.


In order for a player to excel at stopping shots, they would need to train up their dexterity, agility, and reflexes. It is for that reason that many believe that shot stopper style players are much more agile than sweeper keepers. Whether that is true or not is a debate worth having. After all, sweeper keepers also need the skills to stop shots, which makes them just a bit more diverse on the field.


The Pros and Cons of a Shot Stopper


Whether the Sweeper Keeper is an objectively better goalkeeping style remains to be seen. It is still a relatively new development in football, and though it has been accepted, there are still those who prefer the shot stopper for various reasons. For example, shot stoppers excel at making difficult saves, that might get past some sweeper keepers. 


That being said, there is something to be said about the limitations of the shot stopper. For example, their ball distribution skills are certainly lacking, especially when compared to the sweeper keepers. Shot stoppers may also lack the same ball control capabilities as a sweeper keeper, making the team vulnerable to aerials.