Probably just substitute players at the European Football Championship again

Probably just substitute players at the European Football Championship again

For some, the number on the back means the football world. The fact that Jamal Musiala can now wear the shirt with number 10 in the German national team is the fulfillment of a childhood dream since he saw Lionel Messi cracking defensive bars with this combination of numbers. A strong international game with the 10 does not make a world star, but the way Musiala weaved past the opponents with the ball in the 2-0 win in France was a bit reminiscent of Messi.

Tobias Rabe

Editor in charge of Sport Online.

Football goalkeepers also have a special relationship with the number on their jersey because it reflects their status even more. There can be many dribbling artists, goalkeepers always only one – and he prefers to wear the 1 to illustrate his special position. Marc-André ter Stegen almost always wore it in the first team of the German Football Association (DFB) in 2023, eight of them He played eleven international matches in full, the other three Kevin Trapp.

On Saturday, Ter Stegen was also in goal for 90 minutes plus added time in Lyon, made an excellent save on a lob from Kylian Mbappé, the French number 10, and thus helped to keep a clean sheet. Ter Stegen will also start against the Netherlands this Tuesday (8.45 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for international matches and on RTL). And so one might think that the football world of the 31-year-old goalkeeper from FC Barcelona should be colored pink like the new jerseys that the ten outfield players will wear for the first time in Frankfurt. But in France, a yellow detail on ter Stegen’s fresh black shirt revealed that this was not the case: the number 22 on the shirt. Status: substitute goalkeeper.

A milestone in the summer eight years ago

Before the 2012 European Championship, the Mönchengladbach native made his debut in the DFB team shortly after he turned 20, but he was missing from the tournament, as he was in the World Cup triumph in 2014. It wasn’t a magical start for ter Stegen, who was still playing in the U-21 team at the same time, but more of an on-off relationship. When he was in a tournament squad for the first time at the European Championships in 2016, he had only played six international matches in four years. Although none of these happened in France, the summer eight years ago marked a milestone. Since then, Ter Stegen has been the undisputed number 1 in Barcelona. At some point they even began to pay homage to him as “Messi with gloves” because his game had something to do with it.

While ter Stegen has been living on the sunny side of the country for almost a decade, he has been in the shade at home for a good decade. Manuel Neuer has been number 1 in the national team since the 2010 World Cup, and only injuries have changed that at the moment, of which there were quite a few for Neuer. He got fit just in time for the 2018 World Cup after breaking his metatarsal. Shortly after the 2022 World Cup, where he played his last game to date in a DFB uniform against Costa Rica in the embarrassing preliminary round exit, he suffered a complicated leg fracture in a skiing accident.

Perfect: Marc-André ter Stegen’s goalkeeping game: Image: AFP

When Neuer and Ter Stegen, who himself had been out for a long time in the winter due to a back injury, presented themselves at the highest level in training last Tuesday, it became clear again that Germany probably has the best backup goalkeeper in the world, no matter who it would be. At best the Brazilian combination of Alisson Becker/Ederson can keep up. When Julian Nagelsmann distributed the roles three months before the start of the European Championship in his own country, he and goalkeeping coach Andreas Kronenberg decided on regular player Neuer, like his predecessors.

The injury that the old, new number 1 suffered a little later does not change Neuer’s gold status. Neuer traveled back to Munich with a torn muscle fiber. It is unclear whether he will be in goal for FC Bayern in Saturday’s Bundesliga game against Dortmund. Now he is supposed to hold the ball for Germany again in June against Ukraine and Greece after 18 months without an international match. “The decision is made,” said Nagelsmann. “It would be strange if I revised my decision every time I got an injury.” It’s about giving players “some security.”

Two with world-class format: Marc-André ter Stegen (left) and Manuel Neuer: Image: picture alliance/dpa/Kessler-Sportfotografie

Neuer felt not security but anger a year ago when the then Bayern coach Nagelsmann forced the separation from Neuer’s trusted goalkeeper coach Toni Tapalović. Neuer’s response in the interview with the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and “The Athletic” was martial: “I had the feeling that my heart was being ripped out.” But the dissonances don’t play a role now.

Nagelsmann called the role interview with ter Stegen on ZDF “one of the most unpleasant of all the ones I’ve had”. Nevertheless, he conveyed to the goalkeeper that “something can always happen in this position, as you can see now.” Both goalkeepers “have a certain history of injuries, which could lead to one or the other being out.” Both of them shouldn’t be missing. Oliver Baumann and Bernd Leno, who, unlike Trapp, are nominated this time, do not reach the “world class” that Nagelsmann Neuer and ter Stegen attested to.

Daniel Theweleit Published/Updated: 58 minutes ago , Recommendations: 4 Christopher Meltzer, Lyon Published/Updated: , Recommendations: 18 A comment from Pirmin Clossé Published/Updated: , Recommendations: 10 A comment from Tobias Rabe, Lyon Published/Updated: , Recommendations: 10

Ter Stegen, who only played in a tournament when he won the Confederations Cup in 2017, took Nagelsmann’s decision “very professionally, very maturely”. It seems as if the 31-year-old ter Stegen has made peace with the fact that there is another world-class German goalkeeper in his generation ahead of him. His words from the fall fit in well with this: “What I concentrate on the most: playing good games and always being in absolute balance with myself.” For the time being, all he has left are DFB advertising clips in which he can wear the longed-for number 1, until he follows suit Neuer’s end to his career in the DFB team may still be a “Musiala with gloves”.


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