When Marc-André ter Stegen dived for the new European Championship ball for the first time in the Frankfurt autumn wind during DFB training, Manuel Neuer had already grabbed the ball in Berlin. Smiling, with the game equipment safely in his hands, the Bayern goalkeeper posed directly in front of the Berlin Olympic Stadium on Wednesday. Behind him, the European Cup was within reach with the final arena as a backdrop, ready to be picked up.
No matter how diplomatic Neuer, ter Stegen and national coach Julian Nagelsmann want to be eight months before the home tournament, the pictures leave no doubt: the duel for the place in the goal of the national soccer team is ten months after Neuer’s club comeback A bad broken leg has now fully flared up.
“I want to play in this stadium because the final is here. “We want to create positive emotions in our country together with the fans and achieve the big goal,” said Neuer. Diplomacy or not, this can also be understood as a declaration of war by the supposed top dog at ter Stegen.
Praise for Neuer from EM boss Lahm
Coincidence or not: supplier and ball manufacturer Adidas chose its advertising medium for the ball presentation alongside tournament boss Philipp Lahm. “When he can deliver his performance, he is an incredible goalkeeper, he has proven that often enough,” praised the former world champion and Bayern colleague of the 37-year-old goalkeeper.
“Ugly birds goes international” – Füllkrug and Ducksch reunited
Niclas Füllkrug and Marvin Ducksch are reunited with the national team. However, it was not planned that her self-proclaimed nickname “the ugly birds” would follow her into the DFB team.
Although Neuer, after consulting with Nagelsmann, decided not to take part in the international matches against Turkey on Saturday (8:45 p.m., in the WELT sports ticker) in Berlin and three days later in Austria for “medical” reasons, the German record goalkeeper is After 117 international matches and seven major tournaments in a row, he is still far from willing to accept a possible demotion. The long-term captain can cope with the fact that Ilkay Gündogan has already been named European Championship captain. The armband was more of a burden than a pleasure at the World Cup in Qatar.
The schedule for the DFB comeback has been named. “It is of course my goal to be back at the March internationals. I want to attack there ambitiously,” said Neuer. The DFB logo was clearly visible on his training outfit under his winter jacket. The presenter of the European Championship Ball Show had announced him as “still the best goalkeeper in the world”. Neuer was relaxed and confident in Berlin, took a lot of time to take photos with fans and even posed for a short dance video.
The symbolism: Neuer is back, even though he is not yet physically part of the national team. In his five games for FC Bayern after the ten-month break due to the complicated leg fracture, he showed that a return to his old strength is possible. His advantage over Ter Stegen remains that his consistently fantastic performances at FC Barcelona often remain under the radar of the German football public.
And the Bayern faction in the DFB entourage is of course happy too. “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 was out,” said Serge Gnabry on the DFB podium.
And Leon Goretzka became downright emotional. “How strong he persevered through it, how he stuck with it mentally, how he always believed he could come back. When I think about it, I get a little goosebumps that he’s back on the pitch with us, marching up front,” said the 28-year-old.
Nagelsmann leaves everything open
Nagelsmann is enough of a coaching professional to keep all options open. Why would he alienate one of his world-class goalkeepers now? “We all hope that he plays extremely consistently until the next international match. Then there are different signs again,” said the 36-year-old about Neuer. Anything else would contradict his performance mantra. Ter Stegen is also holding back. Clever enough, he is, “currently”, as von Neuer cleverly stated, number one.
Neuer against ter Stegen, that is a long-term story with the inglorious chapter of the 2018 World Cup. Back then, ter Stegen also represented the German record goalkeeper. The Munich player returned shortly before the tournament in Russia and was declared number one again by the then national coach Joachim Löw. This was probably a mistake for team building. Ter Stegen had built up a certain standing as a representative and Confed Cup winner in 2017.
German goalkeeper history may repeat itself before a home tournament in spring 2024. In 2006, national coach Jürgen Klinsmann named Jens Lehmann number one, and there was a huge furor from the Bayern camp around long-time regular Oliver Kahn.
Adeyemi is missing from the U21 national team at his own request
The four-time senior national player Karim Adeyemi has decided not to be nominated for the German U21 at his own request. DFB coach Antonio Di Salvo announced this in a press conference. The reason: Adeyemi’s goals at Borussia Dortmund.
But the Titan reacted cleverly, accepted the role as a World Cup substitute behind the unpopular rival and thereby publicly gained points in the summer fairy tale. But would Neuer also be capable of such a role? As is well known, the Munich player, as nice and smart as he appears, is a goalkeeper cannibal, which means he always wants to play.
Neuer was asked directly on Wednesday whether he would also go to the European Championships as number two? “I haven’t thought about it yet. It’s important for me to come back now. The contact with Julian is very good because he was my coach at Bayern. We are constantly in communication. He is also very happy that things started so well for me,” said the 37-year-old.
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For Michael Ballack, once Kahn’s successor as DFB captain under Klinsmann, a reservist Neuer is unimaginable. “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,” he told SPORT BILD.
The prospect of a home European Championship naturally triggers great anticipation for Neuer. “It is the first tournament for me in my own country. This is something special for all of us, for the football nation of Germany. And of course I want to use that.”