MUNICH • With Manuel Neuer still sidelined, Sven Ulreich is relishing his time in the spotlight as Bayern Munich's goalkeeper as he prepares for today's Champions League quarter-final return leg.
Ulreich found himself elevated to the club's first-choice role in September when World Cup winner Neuer fractured his foot in training.
The 29-year-old will once more be between the posts against Sevilla at Bayern's Allianz Arena with the German side on the verge of another Champions League semi-final. Bayern hold a 2-1 advantage from the first leg and are bidding to reach the last four for the seventh time in nine seasons.
While the likes of Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski are used to playing regularly in the knockout stages of European competition, it is a novelty for Ulreich.
"Seville was a super experience, I was really happy to be able to play a quarter-final of the Champions League," he said.
With Ulreich in goal, Bayern wrapped up their sixth successive Bundesliga title last Saturday and their focus is now firmly on Europe.
However for Ulreich, his current situation was almost unimaginable before Neuer succumbed to injury.
He joined Bayern in 2015 from Stuttgart and 24 of his 47 Bundesliga appearances for the Bavarians have come this season, as a result of Neuer's absence.
"The expectations were enormous, if I had let a few in, people would have quickly said, 'Manu would have kept that out'," Ulreich told Kicker magazine.
"People are used to seeing world class in that position and, of course, you want to match that. It used to bother me, but you grow when faced with a challenge and in the meantime, fans and the club's senior figures have seen that I also have my qualities."
Bayern are also seeking to repeat their 2013 treble, as they face Bayer Leverkusen in the semi-finals of the German Cup later this month.
"We want to take everything this season that there is to take - and this team has got big ambitions," said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
"What I like about this team, it goes on, on and on and is not arrogant. The team is already focused on Wednesday - we really want to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League."
BAYERN V SEVILLA
Singtel TV Ch111 & StarHub Ch202, tomorrow, 2.30am