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Breaking Butland: Why is he FUT 17’s most OP goalkeeper?

One man’s journey to find out what makes Jack Butland the best keeper in the game.

Stoke City v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images

Goalkeeping has always been notoriously bad in FIFA. Over the years, we’ve seen various improvements in the goalkeeping AI, but no significant improvements on the field. Keepers are inconsistent, prone to errors and rarely play to their stats or ratings, making it hard to find a good shot-stopper.

That being said, there are some keepers who are widely considered to be better than others. These keepers are more immune to the inconsistencies that plague their counterparts, and appear in the majority of Weekend League teams. In FIFA 17, these keepers include De Gea, Courtois, Lloris, Neuer, Fahrmann, and Handanovic.

You may notice that I left out a certain player, and this article will be devoted to him. I’m talking about the one and only Jack Butland - the England and Stoke City goalkeeper is incredibly overpowered this year, and plays well above his 82-rating. He’s one of the most used goalkeepers this year, and appears in all manners of team - from starter squads to full-legend super teams, Jack Butland is the goalkeeper of choice for many FUT 17 players, including myself.

But why is this the case? Why do so many players choose to place their faith in a 82-rated goalkeeper, with largely average stats for a 80+ rated card? And why does he outperform higher-rated keepers?

The Experiment:

In an attempt to answer these questions, I decided to test Butland against some of the other goalkeepers in FIFA 17.

To keep the experiment fair, I used all the keepers in the same team, and all of them were on 10-chemistry (I used two legend CBs in front of them). The experiment has taken me the better part of a week, as I used each keeper for 4-6 Division 1 games. When it came to choosing the keepers, I chose a combination of high-rated keepers along with some popular, lower-rated options.

There are three main factors that determine any goalkeeper’s performance - their height, their card stats and their traits. We’ll look at each of these metrics, and see how Butland stacks up against other keepers in each of these categories.

The Data:

Here’s the data I collected:

Untitled

Name Average Saves per Game Average Goals Conceded per Game Rating Height Diving Reflexes Handling Positioning Comes for Crosses Cautious with Crosses
Name Average Saves per Game Average Goals Conceded per Game Rating Height Diving Reflexes Handling Positioning Comes for Crosses Cautious with Crosses
Courtois 6 0.2 89 6'6" 84 89 91 86 Y N
Butland 7 0.25 82 6'5" 81 85 83 79 Y N
Begovic 8 0.25 83 6'6" 83 84 81 80 Y N
De Gea 6 0.4 90 6'3" 88 90 85 85 N N
Fahrmann 5 0.4 84 6'5" 83 87 86 85 Y N
Neuer 5 0.5 92 6'3" 89 89 90 91 Y N
Handanovic 7 0.6 87 6'3" 86 86 89 86 N N
Lloris 6 1 88 6'2" 87 90 87 82 Y N
Oblak 5 1.5 87 6'1" 83 82 90 87 Y N
Navas 4 2 85 6'0" 87 85 82 80 N Y
Goalkeeping Data, sorted by goals conceded per game. Arun Das

From this data, I was able to draw a couple of conclusions:

  1. Height is crucial. The tallest keepers conceded the fewest goals for me, with the shorter keepers (6’2” and below), conceding significantly more goals than their taller counterparts. This is shown by the fact that the tallest five goalkeepers conceded the fewest goals, with their shorter companions making up the bottom half of the list.
  2. Card stats are largely irrelevant. Neither the rating nor the card stats was a clear indicator of a goalkeeper’s performance, especially amongst these elite keepers.However, between keepers with similar height and traits (like Courtois, Butland and Begovic), the player with better card stats performed marginally better, and keepers with higher diving and reflexes tended to perform slightly better.
  3. Traits have an effect. The top-three keepers all had the “Comes for crosses” trait, whilst Keylor Navas, the worst keeper by far, was the only one with the “Cautious with crosses” trait.

Keeping all this in mind, let’s look at Jack Butland again. He’s tall (6’5”), has decent card stats, and the all-important “Comes for crosses” trait - all the ingredients needed for a good keeper. Asmir Begovic is strikingly similar to Jack Butland in all these categories, and he performed almost identically in game. Courtois was the only keeper to out-perform Butland and Begovic, and he had both the height and traits that they had, as well as slightly better card stats.

When a keeper was lacking in one of these areas, there was a significant dip in his overall performance. While De Gea was still fantastic in-game, the lack of the “Comes for crosses” trait made him less imposing in the box, and he conceded more goals than the far lower-rated Jack Butland and Asmir Begovic (even though he was of similar height and had better stats). Neuer and Lloris had all the crucial stats and traits, but their height affected their performance.

Oblak and Navas were the worst keepers by far. Oblak had neither the height, nor the card-stats, so his traits were unable to redeem him. Navas had the stats, but was lacking in height and had the “Cautious with crosses” trait, making him close to unusable in Division 1.

Conclusion:

Jack Butland is the perfect storm - he has the perfect blend of height, stats and traits needed to excel in FIFA 17. This is true for other keepers with these metrics - both Chelsea keepers (Courtois and Begovic) were also fantastic - while keepers lacking in one or more of these categories were less impressive in game.

Based on the results of this experiment, these are what I believe the crucial metrics for a goalkeeper are:

  • Height - over 6’4” is ideal, while below 6’3” is just too short.
  • Anything above 80 in diving, reflexes, handling and positioning - there doesn’t seem to be difference between low and high 80s in these stats.
  • Having the “Comes for crosses” trait is important, as is not having the “Cautious with crosses” trait.

If we go by these metrics, some of the best cheap keepers in the game should be (and are) Fahrmann, Begovic and of course, Jack Butland, while the more expensive keepers who live up to their price-tags are Courtois and De Gea.