Neuer is the man for the big stage

Roman Weidenfeller, who is in Singapore as Borussia Dortmund's ambassador in Asia, believes that Manuel Neuer's experience in international tournaments will make him a clear choice to be Germany's No. 1.
Roman Weidenfeller, who is in Singapore as Borussia Dortmund's ambassador in Asia, believes that Manuel Neuer's experience in international tournaments will make him a clear choice to be Germany's No. 1.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The biggest games in football require the biggest personalities and that is why Manuel Neuer will start in goal for Germany today in their World Cup opener against Mexico, according to fellow goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.

Neuer, 32, has had only 360 minutes of competitive action in the past nine months after a metatarsal fracture in his left foot. But Weidenfeller has no doubt his former international team-mate is the clear choice to be the defending champions' No. 1.

Weidenfeller, who won the Bundesliga twice with Borussia Dortmund, was Neuer's understudy at the 2014 edition, a similar position current back-up Marc-Andre ter Stegen finds himself in.

The 37-year-old Weidenfeller, who retired last season after 16 years at Dortmund and is in Singapore as the club's ambassador in Asia, told The Sunday Times yesterday: "Neuer always performs in the biggest games and ter Stegen needs a little bit of time to give a good performance every time.

"Ter Stegen is next behind Neuer for us, he will be a great 'keeper. But we need some time.

"Neuer was the most important player at the 2014 World Cup and he will be there for Germany in the big games this time."

While Neuer has missed the bulk of last season for Bayern Munich, ter Stegen is coming off a stellar season with Barcelona, keeping 18 clean sheets and helping them capture the LaLiga title.


Former Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller taking in the sights of Singapore from the 1-Altitude bar. PHOTO: 1-ALTITUDE

Despite that form, Germany manager Joachim Low is retaining faith with his captain Neuer.

Weidenfeller said: "It is not easy for Jogi, but he knows how the players work best together in the biggest games. I think he will still put Neuer in the goal.

"He (Neuer) is a great player and he has plenty of international experience."

Besides ter Stegen, 26, Low can also field Paris Saint-German's Kevin Trapp, 27.

"They push Neuer and it's important to have good back-ups that are ready to come on in goal," Weidenfeller added.

After Mexico, Germany face Sweden on Saturday and South Korea four days later in Group F.

Weidenfeller said: "The first game is very important to win, we beat Portugal (4-0 to start the 2014 campaign). It was a big game, after we were really relaxed. The start is really complicated."

The last country to win back-to-back world titles were Brazil (1958, 1962) and Weidenfeller is confident Germany can do the same.

He said: "Real Madrid won the Champions League three times in a row when people said it was impossible. Germany have a chance but it is not easy, they need a little bit of luck, but they have the team to win."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 17, 2018, with the headline 'Neuer is the man for the big stage'. Print Edition | Subscribe