0.47, that’s the magic number Jan Oblak, like many goalkeepers before him, is chasing to enter La Liga’s record books. 0.47 was the number set in the 1993-94 season by the great Paco Liano as the best goalkeeper coefficient in a Spanish League campaign, having conceded just 18 goals in 38 matches.
The Deportivo La Coruna legend helped his team finish second by also keeping an astonishing 26 clean sheets in that time. His coefficient of 0.47 remains the best of its kind to this day, and it’d carry on like this unless Jan Oblak and his incredible Atletico Madrid defence have something to say about it.
As it stands right now, the Slovenian has a coefficient of 0.44 after just 16 goals conceded in 36 La Liga matches. Oblak could miss the final two rounds of the season and break the 22-year-old record, but with Atleti fighting neck-and-neck with Barcelona for La Liga, this is very unlikely. Destiny has it that Atletico currently are tied on points with Barca, although they’d lose the tiebreak to become champions, just like Deportivo in 1994, when they finished level on points with the Catalans, only for the latter to take the trophy due to their head-to-head advantage over Liano and his teammates.
So, assuming that Oblak plays the last two games, he will need at least one more clean sheet and to concede just one goal in the other match in order to break the record. If Atleti concede two goals, Oblak will post the same numbers as Liano, with 18 goals in 38 matches. If he concedes three goals or more, Liano’s record will stand another year.
The Atleti custodian has already kept 23 clean sheets, the same as – and enough to break the team record previously held by – Thibaut Courtois, who managed 20 clean sheets in each of his latter two seasons at the Vicente Calderon, between 2012 and 2014. Oblak has had just as much help from Los Colchoneros’ great defence as the Belgium did, the Slovenian producing four clean sheets without making a save and making less than four saves in 19 matches. Courtois also had a season with four clean sheets without a save, but only in 17 matches did he make less than four.
Diego Simeone’s backline has been the key for this team’s success, and they must remain so in the next two matches if Oblak is going to break the record. But the margin of error is small. Celta Vigo have managed on average more than one goal on the road this season, while Levante have done so at home. Furthermore, the fact that Atletico are in the semi-finals of the Champions League poses the side fatigue and a distraction.
After their trip to Munich, Atleti will visit Levante, a team perhaps in with their final chance of staying in La Primera, yet the Valencians seem to play at their best against Cholo’s troops. In fact, Atleti haven’t won away against Levante in La Liga since 2007. In their last five matches, Levante have won three and drawn two and scored twice in every game but for one, when they drew 1-1. This game can’t be considered a guaranteed clean sheet for Oblak.
If Oblak’s record chances are still alive by the last League game then he will have to cope against a dangerous-looking Celta. The Galicians have already beaten Los Rojiblancos this season after eliminating them from the Copa del Rey away from home four months ago. Celta have also scored in five of their last six trips to the Calderon and haven’t lost there since 2013. Eduardo Berizzo’s men are also the only La Liga team, not counting Barcelona and Real Madrid, who have four players with more than five goals this term. They also have netted in their last seven away games.
With or without the record, Oblak’s season has been spectacular, and it would be even more so with silverware, which is certainly within reach. But, considering the fixtures that Atleti face, Liano’s record may yet survive for another year.