Copa Libertadores Keepers

Top 5 Goalkeepers in the Copa Libertadores

Tim Sturtridge

With the 2010 Copa Libertadores now in full swing Soccerphile runs the rule over the best talent in the tournament. For the first part of the series we take a look between the sticks and pick out the five best goalkeepers playing in the competition.

Roberto Abbondanzieri

Team: Internacional (BRA)

Birth date: 19/08/1972, Age 37

Place Of Birth: Bouquet, Argentina

International Caps: 49

When Uruguayan head coach Jorge Fossati arrived at Internacional at the start of the year he already had a big reputation in Brazil. Last year Fossati won the Recopa Sudamericana while in charge of LDU Quito with a handsome 4-0 aggregate victory over his current employers. In the same year Fossati also led LDU Quito to victory over Fluminense in the final of the Copa Sudamericana.

With the Uruguayan already having established his credentials as a coach who knew what it took to succeed in continental competition he given the full backing of the Internacional board to add to the squad. One of the first signings Fossati made was to bring in another person who knows all about winning South America's top honours, Roberto Abbondanzieri.

Eyebrows were raised when Fossati brought over Abbondanzieri from Boca Juniors. There were concerns among Internacional fans about the goalkeepers age and his poor form for Boca before he left Argentina. What Fossati saw however was the perfect rock on which to build Internacional's Copa Libertadores challenge.

During his first spell with Boca the former Argentina international won the Copa Libertadores three times among a host of other silverware he collected while in Buenos Aires. In mid-March Internacional travelled to Group 5 leaders Cerro in Fossati's native Uruguay, a string of saves from Abbondanzieri earned his team a priceless point on their quest to reach the knock-out rounds.

Aldo Bobadilla

Team: Independiente Medellín

Birth date: 20/04/1976, Age 33

Place Of Birth: Pedro Juan Caballero, Paraguay

International Caps: 17

The man wearing the gloves for Independiente Medellín in this year's Copa Libertadores is just one of a long line of goalkeepers trained by Paraguayan legend Modesto Sandoval. Now a full time goal keeping coach Sandoval was considered during the 1960s to be among the best goalkeepers on the planet.

As well as teaching Aldo Bobadilla the art of goal keeping Sandoval also imparted his knowledge to Sergio Goycochea (responsibly for Argentina's appearance in the 1990 World Cup final), Faryd Mondragón (who came to prominence keeping goal for Colombia and Galatasaray), Jose Luis Chilavert (considered in Paraguay to be Sandoval's natural heir) and Justo Villar (Paraguay's first choice goalkeeper ahead of the 2010 World Cup).

So we know Bobadilla is from good stock but what is the 33-year-old Paraguayan doing to live up to the illustrious company he keeps? After all, four games into the 2010 Copa Libertadores his Independiente Medellín have only amassed a poultry three points.

The truth is that Independiente Medellín's poor points tally has little to do with their goalkeeper, in the four games they have played they have only conceded four goals. Bobadilla was particularly unlucky to end up on the losing side last time out as Independiente Medellín went down 1-0 away to Racing of Uruguay. While trying to pull off his second full stretch diving save of the match Bobadilla just couldn't keep the ball out of his net despite getting a touch.

Rogério Ceni

Team: São Paulo (BRA)

Birth date: 22/01/1973, Age 37

Place Of Birth: Pato Branco, Brazil

International Caps: 17

Whenever discussing São Paulo's long serving goal keeping Rogério Ceni there's one statistic worth getting out of the way early. The gloves man holds the record for the most goals scored by a goalkeeper, 89 in total. The staggering amount of strikes by Rogério Ceni is split between 39 penalties and 50 free kicks.

The goalkeeper has already added to his impressive scoring feats in this year's Copa Libertadores. Rogério Ceni fired in a free kick against Once Caldas although he ended the game on the losing team.

It is thanks to the more conventional side of Rogério Ceni's game that São Paulo's defeat in Colombia has not made too big a dent in the club's chances of making the knock-out stages of the Copa Libertadores. In São Paulo's three other games so far three clean sheets by Rogério Ceni have helped the Brazilian club top Group 2 after four games.

All through his career Rogério Ceni has insisted that he wants to be remembered first and foremost as a goalkeeper rather than a goalscorer. With winners' medals from the World Cup, Confederations Cup, Club World Cup, Copa Libertadores as well as every domestic Brazilian honour going safely tucked away in his sock draw it is certain Rogério Ceni will be remembered for a long time to come. Luckily for Copa Libertadores fans we still have the chance to watch this remarkable athlete every week.

Rodrigo Muñoz

Team: Nacional

Birth date: 22/01/1982, Age 28

Place Of Birth: Montevideo, Uruguay

International Caps: 0

Uruguay's trio of teams in this year's Copa Libertadores all look set to reach the knockout stages of the competition. This feat is even more remarkable when you consider that until last year Uruguay had not had a team in last four of the tournament for 20 years.

That hoodoo was finally broken in last year's competition when Nacional overcame Palmeiras on the away goals rule. After picking up a one-all draw in Brazil the Uruguayans progressed to the semi-finals after a nil-nil draw in Montevideo.

That famous result was thanks in no small part to Rodrigo Muñoz who joined Nacional that same year from domestic rivals Cerro. Muñoz was in fine form for the home leg as he saved well from Willians, Obina and Keirrison to ensure his side's passage to the last four.

Muñoz is at it again this year and clean sheets away to Morelia in Mexico and Banfield in Argentina have helped Nacional to have one foot already in the knock-out stages after four games. Nacional's 2-0 away at Banfield has been one of the results of the tournament so far and was achieved thanks to two acrobatic saves by Muñoz from James Rodríguez.

Renny Vega

Team: Caracas FC

Birth date: 04/07/1979, age 30

Place Of Birth: Carabobo, Venezuela

International Caps: 38

After keeping clean sheets away to Brazil and Ecuador as part of Venezuela's ultimately failed 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign Renny Vega has once again found himself with plenty of work to do in this year's Copa Libertadores.

After returning from a spell playing in Turkey, the Venezuelan international helped Caracas FC to an historic appearance in the quarter-finals of the 2009 Copa Libertadores. Unfortunately for Vega a tricky draw has not helped their chances of progressing in this latest edition of the tournament.

Finding themselves grouped with the current Brazilian champions Flamengo as well as Chilean giants Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica has seen Vega with his hands full. The experienced custodian has done his best and has only leaked more than one goal in one game. Even with the goalkeeper in impressive form however Caracas FC need two wins from their last to games if they are to repeat last year's heroics.

Tim Sturtridge