Whenever a team takes to the field, there are many different objectives that the players set out to reach.
The main one is of course to get a result from the game, typically win it.
However, for players in each position, they have their goals.
If you take the forwards, its normal to get on the scoresheet or set up a goal for a teammate.
But when it comes to defenders and goalkeepers, what is important to them is keeping a clean sheet.
Now, what exactly is one of them you may be asking? Especially if you are from the US/Canada, where this term is not used.
Today I will explain what it means, why players want to achieve it week in week out, and how important they are to a team’s success.
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What Is A Clean Sheet
A Clean Sheet is the same as what Americans allude to as a shutout.
It’s conceding no goals to the other team and therefore keeping your opponents at bay.
For a keeper and defender, there aren’t that many things that can be ranked higher, that feels better than getting a clean sheet.
As with a clean sheet meaning not conceding any goals at all, it means they have done their job well to not give anything to the opposing team.
How Do You Get A Clean Sheet?
To get a clean sheet you need to stop the other team from scoring during a game.
This is doable however can be tricky depending on what place your team is in.
If you play for a team that has a leaky defense and a goalkeeper who can’t pull off necessary saves, then clean sheets will be hard to come by.
As with a game lasting 90 minutes its almost inevitable that at some point that team will concede.
But on the contrary, if a good defensive shape and tactics are maintained by a team across a game, and also backed up by a decent keeper, then clean sheets are more than doable.
A good example would be Bayern Munich, who while on a different level to most Bundesliga clubs, has a track record of keeping several clean sheets throughout the season.
This is due to the fact they have one of the best keepers in Manuel Neuer and a solid defense.
It also helps that the midfield for the German side retains the ball well and protects their defenders so they are rarely challenged anyway.
Neuer in fact had a fantastic record in goal for the 2021/22 season keeping 10 clean sheets in the 28 games he featured in, which is very good when you consider that is over 35% of his games played.
On the contrary, the bottom side of Bundesliga SpVgg Greuther Fürth kept only 6 clean sheets in 34 games, which shows how having a good defense is very important in getting clean sheets.
Is A Clean Sheet Important In Football?
Now talking of the importance of clean sheets, there is a famous saying that former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said who won 13 league titles:
Attack wins you games, Clean Sheets win you championships – Sir Alex Ferguson
Now for someone who has won 13 league titles, you have to say there is a lot of sense in that statement.
As if a team can’t defend they will drop points, which can prevent them from winning titles.
It doesn’t matter how many goals a team can score, if they are just as leaky at the back, it basically cancels out.
This is the reason why if you look at any of the elite football sides, you will notice they remain dominant every year.
They keep clean sheets when they need to the most, and score goals at precious times on days when there playing poorly.
Is 0-0 A Clean Sheet?
If the score is goalless at full-time, then despite your team not scoring if you haven’t conceded you will have a clean sheet.
A scoreline like this, which is actually fairly common, shows that the game involved either a lot of cagey play, backward passing, and sturdy defending.
Either way, even though its not a win, a keeper and the defenders will be happy still that they kept the other side at bay.
Who Has The Most Clean Sheets?
The keepers who have the cleanest sheets are those who are not only very good at stopping the ball from going in.
But also have a solid backline, that keeps those dangerous attacks to a minimum, to take the pressure off their goalie.
With that said, in order to gain clean sheets a goalie, will typically need to pull off at least one decent save in a game.
This is why those who are at the top of the list, which I will go over with you now are recognized as top keepers in the game.
Now the top 10 keepers with the most clean sheets from 2000 to 2021 go like this:
- 10. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur) – 253
- 9. Victor Valdes (Ex-Barcelona & Middlesbrough) – 260
- 8. Van Der Sar (Ex-Manchester United) – 266
- 7. Andriy Pyatov (Shakter Doneskt) – 269
- 6. Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow) – 316
- 5. Manuel Neuer – (Bayern Munich) – 327
- 4. Pepe Reina – (Lazio SSC) 343
- 3. Petr Cech – (Ex-Chelsea & Arsenal) – 391
- 2. Gianluigi Buffon – (Parma FC) – 420
- 1. Iker Casillas (Ex-Real Madrid & FC Porto) – 439