Ederson vs Alisson: Who deserves to be Brazil's no 1 in Russia?
Brazil's national team is so rich in depth it can afford to send three formidable squads. Such excessive luxury can be intoxicating and problematic when there is just one competition to consider. Selecao boss Tite has such a selection headache in goal. Between Alisson Becker and Ederson Moraes, who should pull on the gloves in Russia?
Traditionally, Brazil's goalkeeping cupboard has been relatively bare. While the country battles with neighbour Argentina to be the world's biggest producer of soccer talent, quality shot-stoppers have been grossly limited in supply. Of course, the demand was always surplus, particularly in Europe. Very few Brazilian keepers have been deemed good enough. Take away Claudio Taffarel, Dida, and Julio Cesar, who is left? When Julio Cesar faded from the scene, Heurelho Gomes was left to carry the Selecao standard in UEFA. If Youtube features more fail than highlight videos depicting your career, you might be a bad goalkeeper.
Two young Brazilian netminders are bucking that trend this term: Alisson Becker and Ederson Moraes. Both have been in tremendously sensational form with their respective clubs. With the World Cup on the horizon, their emergence is a rich Samba to Brazilian ears, most especially Tite's. But every silver lining has a dark cloud. Who exactly does the boss choose?
Alisson is favoured to win the glove tussle in Russia. Since making his debut in 2015, the 25-year-old has cemented his place as Brazil's undisputed first choice. Even when he struggled for game time with AS Roma last term, Tite kept faith. Alisson missed just one World Cup qualifier and featured in friendlies against Japan and England, bagging clean sheets both times.
When Brazil became the first nation to qualify for Russia 2018, Tite was able to rest Alisson. The manager understood competition would be healthy for the Roma custodian, while also allowing the team to cultivate a reliable second option. Cassio Ramos didn't quite man up to the task. Neither did Diego Alves or Weverton. In form, Ederson was given a shot against Chile in November. He made a big statement. It was his debut cap, yet it was enough to charm Tite and his staff.
How do they compare this season?
Both Alisson and Ederson are having spectacular campaigns with Roma and Manchester City respectively. There isn't much to separate the pair. Ederson has shipped more goals, albeit in an additional two games. Yet, Alisson has claimed two more clean sheets with less opportunity. The former Internacional goalie is level with David de Gea on 13.
Ederson (0.60) concedes fewer goals per game but also makes fewer saves per goal (2.82). His distribution is slightly more accurate (87:85%). That is to be excepted as he plays fewer long balls. Both have skilled feet. There's a noticeable difference in the way each deals with incoming service. Alisson rushes all out to collect balls. Ederson prefers to punch them clear.
The pressure that comes with competing for places isn't entirely strange to either man. As a 21-year-old at Gremio, Alisson forced Dida into an abrupt retirement. Similarly, Ederson capitalised on Julio Cesar's misfortune to break through at Benfica. With his senior colleague injured, the youngster was called upon against Sporting Lisbon. He never looked back.
The decision is Tite's to make. However, for continuity's sake, Alisson should get the nod in Russia. The squad is more familiar with his presence. Regardless, Brazil is in safe hands for at least the next decade.