Robert Sánchez, the great unknown in the Spanish goal | Mi Portería

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Robert Sánchez, the great unknown in the Spanish goal

Who is Robert Sánchez, where does he play and why has he been called up by the Spanish national team for Euro 20/21? Did his performance really deserve it or was it a whim of the coach? That is the question that many goalkeepers and goalkeeping coaches are asking about a boy who until recently was unknown to us, but whose performance leaves no room for doubt.

Robert Lynch Sánchez (Cartagena, Murcia, 18th November 1997) is a Spanish footballer who currently plays as goalkeeper for Brighton & Hove Albion F.C., who finished sixteenth in the English Premier League.

Robert is a goalkeeper who began his training in one of the many football schools in his hometown, Cartagena, specifically in the Santa Ana football school. A few years later he signed for the club par excellence of his hometown and historic of Spanish football, Cartagena C.F., whose first team currently plays in the Spanish Second Division.

After standing out, at the age of just twelve Robert had the opportunity to make the leap to one of Spain’s top clubs, Levante U.D, where he continued his training. Just three years later, his performance in the Spanish youth ranks again led him to receive an offer from Brighton in England, and at the age of 15, he decided to embark on an adventure abroad.

From the age of 15 to 20, Robert continued his training at the English club until he joined the first team at the age of 21. That same season (18/19) the lack of minutes led him to take the decision to go out on loan to an English fourth division club, Forest Green Rovers F.C, a team with which he played a total of seventeen games. The following year he decided to resume this path that would take him to Rochdale A.F.C, a team in the English third division with which he played a total of 26 games.

In the current season (20/21), and after his stint with different English clubs, Robert managed to establish himself in Brighton’s first team, becoming the first-choice goalkeeper and playing a total of 27 games. His good performances, together with those of his teammates, have allowed the club to achieve its main objective, relegation, finishing sixteenth in the table, and at the same time, to fulfil a dream: to be one of the twenty-four called up by the national team to play in Euro 2021.

Although perhaps more unknown than his team-mates De Gea and Unai Simón, Robert has earned his place at this European Championship, having performed at a high-level day in and day out in the Premier League.

Robert is a goalkeeper who could be classified as “modern”. Due to his physical characteristics and his style of play, he is able to perform quite fluently in the different facets of the game, and especially in the air because he is 1.97m tall, a tremendously important quality in the English competition. The direct football played by many of the teams requires a lot of aerial potential from the goalkeepers to compensate.

In addition to his proven ability in the air, Robert, as a good Spanish goalkeeper, is an advanced player with his footwork, showing great efficiency when it comes to resolving intermediate and high-pressure situations by passing and looking for the free man. This is reflected in statistics from BigData platforms such as Instat, which give him an 85% effectiveness rate in passes from set pieces, and 83% in passes with the ball in play.

And not only that! Despite what many people may think, his stature and strong build do not prevent him from being a reactive goalkeeper capable of responding efficiently to situations of crosses and close rejections, as well as medium and long-distance shots, mastering to perfection such important technical actions as blocks and deflections. In this section, the statistics show that he is a true goalkeeper, being able to stop or reject up to 62% of shots or shots from short and medium distance, and 96% from long distance.

Finally, we would like to highlight that, during his time in the Premier League, as well as showing himself to be safe in situations that are favoured by his conditional ability such as aerial play or shots, Robert has shown himself to be increasingly better in his control of the box and his relationship with his defensive line. This improvement is largely due to Luis Enrique’s call-up because it is well known that he likes “sweeper” goalkeepers capable of intercepting or even giving continuity to the game by intercepting balls behind the opposition’s back. Here the figures for Robert’s last season in the Premiership show that he has been able to intercept up to 92% of split balls in and out of the box in which he has decided to come out.

 

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