Paul Giblin MOSCOW
Russia (Xinhua) -- If a team is to win
the World Cup it needs its key players to appear in the decisive
moments of the game and that is truer than ever in the case of
With 103 international caps, France
goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is one of the veterans of the squad at
the age of just 31 and he has been vital in helping them qualify
for Sunday’s final against Croatia.
Although he has been acclaimed by the media, his coach and
companions in Russia, Lloris was under the spotlight as the
tournament began after a slightly disappointing season with
English side Tottenham Hotspur and an error in the warm-up game
against the United States.
The mark of a quality goalkeeper, however is to leave their
errors in the past and that is what Lloris has done.
He has a save percentage of 73.3 percent in the competition
and conceded just four goals with three of those coming in the
4-3 win over Argentina.
He has kept four clean sheets in six games so far.
But it’s not just the saves that Lloris has made, it is when
he made them that is so important.
A reflex save from Matthew Leckie at 0-0 against Australia, a
block to deny Paolo Guerrero at 0-0 against Peru; a fingertip
stop to frustrate Martin Caceres at 0-0 against Uruguay in the
last eight; and a brilliant effort to keep out Toby
Alderweireld’s strike with the scores level in the 1-0 semifinal
triumph over Belgium.
If any of those efforts had ended up in the back of the net,
things could have been very different for France.
No wonder France coach Didier Deschamps said after the
semifinals, "it’s not a save, it is worth a goal."
Central defender Raphael Varane added his praise saying,
"thank you, we are in your hands."
Belgium goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, who has also had an
excellent World Cup, commented that Lloris was "a great keeper,
who has made the difference."
What makes Lloris’ saves more impressive is that France don’t
receive many shots at goal, just 16 in six World Cup games,
meaning it is vital for him to maintain concentration during
periods of inactivity.
Compare his record of 73.3 percent of shots saved with
Spain’s David de Gea, who made just one save in his side’s four
games in Russia, being beaten by six of the seven shots he had
to try and stop.
The only question mark over Lloris is his ability on
penalties and he was beaten from the spot by Australia’s Mile
Jedinak in the opening game, but Deschamps had a response to
those who doubted Lloris ahead of the quarterfinal against
"You think our first-choice keeper doesn’t know how to save
penalties? Lloris is going to play and if everything goes well,
he will still be there in the final," said the French coach.