Sport Manuel Neuer
The only winner of the crisis
As of: 11:09 a.m. | Reading time: 5 minutes
“The national team is in shambles”
The German national football team also lost in the last international match of the year. In the European Championship test against Austria, the DFB selection lost 0-2. “We just have to hope” for the 2024 European Championship in our own country, says reporter and football expert Paul Klinzing in the WELT TV studio.
The embarrassing defeat in Austria worsens the national team’s crisis. Manuel Neuer was out injured all year, but he was not forgotten either as a goalkeeper or as a captain. This shows historically bad statistics.
On days when almost all of his colleagues were away, the captain resorted to a special training measure. Manuel Neuer temporarily wore “Swivel Vision” – glasses that limit the goalkeeper’s field of vision to the left and right – while practicing on Säbener Strasse during the international break that has just ended. It is intended to train better hand-eye coordination. The glasses are intended to help improve reaction times, eye muscles and cognitive perception. Neuer’s goalkeeping coach Michaelrechner sees many advantages during training.
Neuer looked a bit like Zorro with the black glasses – and was in a great mood during preparation for the Bundesliga game at 1. FC Köln this Friday (8.30 p.m., DAZN). The 37-year-old from FC Bayern is the only winner of the German national team after this international period, which went very badly for the selection of the German Football Association (DFB). And six months before the home European Championships raises many questions and doubts.
Neuer plays the situation into his own hands. He was injured for almost a year. During this time, the national team failed to show that it really works without him. 22 goals conceded in eleven international matches in 2023 – the last time the national team conceded a worse average in a calendar year was in 1956. In the eleven games, Germany only kept a clean sheet once, in the 2-0 win against Peru last March. Neuer was forgotten neither as captain nor as goalkeeper. On the contrary.
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Neuer recently decided, in consultation with national coach Julian Nagelsmann, to stay in Munich and work on what Neuer called his physical problems. It was the right decision: Germany lost 2:3 against Turkey and 0:2 against Austria. The mood around the team is bad and changes are being demanded. The situation is likely to play into the deposed captain’s hands, even if he obviously won’t be happy about bad German players.
Marc-André ter Stegen from FC Barcelona, currently number one in the national team, missed the game against Turkey with back pain and did not play in Austria, and Nagelsmann did not nominate Neuer between the two games. Kevin Trapp from Eintracht Frankfurt played for ter Stegen. Trapp didn’t make any mistakes in the two games – but he couldn’t save the game either. He felt like Ter Stegen often did in the past few months.
“This is how Manu makes his colleagues stronger”
Competition is raging in the German goal. There is therefore no fear of unrest in the DFB. Neuer or ter Stegen? Who will be the German number one at the European Championships? “These are things that are part of it,” said sports director Rudi Völler. After Neuer’s serious lower leg injury last December, ter Stegen was promoted to number one. Neuer only returned to Bayern’s goal around three weeks ago.
Since then he has played five games and kept two clean sheets. His club coach Thomas Tuchel raved about a “completely new level” of goalkeeping: “Manu simply makes every defender and his goalkeeper colleagues stronger. This is in a league of its own.”
The Munich captain has announced his return for the international matches in March. These are the last two games before the home European Championship in the summer. Neuer is a figurehead for the association. During the international break, he presented the European Championship match ball called “Football Love” in Berlin. In front of the Olympic Stadium, Neuer sent a declaration of war to ter Stegen: “I want to play in this stadium because the final is here. Together with the fans, we want to create positive emotions in our country and achieve the big goal.” Of course, his goal is “to be there again at the March international games. I want to attack that ambitiously.”
Ter Stegen just said in an interview with WELT AM SONNTAG: “My thinking is clear: for me it is important to show and confirm performance. In the end, it’s all about performance. And if I show that with the national team and FC Barcelona, then I have a very good chance…” But Neuer also enjoys the sympathy of the many FC Bayern players in the national team. “He was out for ages, came back and performed straight away. There’s not much that Manuel can’t do in the position, no matter what age, no matter how long he’s been out,” Serge Gnabry said recently.
Manuel Neuer has been playing for FC Bayern again since October. And wants to be the German number one
Quelle: Getty Images/Stuart Franklin
Neuer played his last international match to date at the World Cup in Qatar, Germany won 4-2 against Costa Rica and, despite the victory, was embarrassingly eliminated in the preliminary round. With Neuer in goal, the national team in Qatar conceded five goals in three games. He wasn’t nearly as safe in Qatar as usual. That, too, is part of the truth.
“Manuel Neuer is only possible as number one”
Michael Ballack was captain of the national team for years. He said about Neuer in “Sport Bild”: “He was untouchable for years. If he had to take on a new role at the DFB now, I would find it difficult. If Manuel Neuer comes back, it will only be possible as number one.”
Neuer’s contract with FC Bayern ends on June 30, 2024. The goalkeeper will hold talks with the club management about a new contract after the first half of the season at the latest. Sports director Christoph Freund said: “If things continue like this and he feels good, there will be no discussion about him anyway. Then we don’t have to worry about the position – and neither does Football Germany.”
The goalkeeper question is one of the biggest challenges that national coach Julian Nagelsmann will have to overcome in the coming months.