Stepping in to replace Manuel Neuer is a tall ask for any keeper, but Sven Ulreich has proven himself more than captable of meeting the challenge this season for Bayern Munich. After a relatively shaky start to his stand-in duties, he quickly turned a corner for the better, especially after the arrival of Jupp Heynckes. That is no coincidence.
Ulreich’s confidence spiked noticeably under Heynckes, translating into solid performances on the pitch en route to Bayern’s 6th successive Bundesliga title, the the final of the DFB Pokal, and the semifinals of the Champions League.
Under Carlo Ancelotti, Ulreich admits (via Sport Bild), he did not feel as if he had his manager’s confidence, which took a toll on his own:
My good games started when Jupp Heynckes arrived. I immediately had his confidence—I didn’t have that feeling with his predecessor. Confidence is the most important thing for an athlete.
Ulreich also revealed how little Ancelotti communicated with him when he was still manager, while Heynckes was the complete opposite:
It was crucially important that Heynckes gave me self-confidence and told expressed his trust in me. Before that it really was the case that Carlo Ancelotti didn’t count on me, had little confidence in me, communicated little. A lot happens via confidence for a soccer player. Getting that from the coach and the leadership is half the battle, especially for a goalkeeper.
After Bayern’s 6-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB Pokal semi finals, Heynckes credited Bayern’s goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic for all the work he’s done with Ulreich since Heynckes took charge of the club. Heynckes explained,
When I came to FC Bayern with Peter Hermann, he [i.e. Ulreich] did not enjoy any appreciation or self-confidence. He then worked intensively with our goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic, and we stayed in constant conversation. He realized what enormous potential he has.
Ulreich also reiterated just how big of a part Tapalovic has played in improving his game. He also said that he would not be disappointed if he is not selected to the World Cup this summer, despite having a fair shot at making the German national team as third keeper, given his current form:
Tapa's training is very good. We often watch scenes from training and games. It helps to see.
The World Cup is the biggest thing there is. Of course that's also a goal of mine. But if it doesn't happen, I won't be sad.
What has been your favorite #SvenTheWall performance from this season?
This poll is closed
DFL Supercup final win vs. Borussia Dortmund
Penalty shootout heroics vs. RB Leipzig in DFB Pokal
1-0 win vs. Stuttgart in the league
6-2 win vs. Leverkusen in the DFB Pokal
3-1 win vs. PSG in the Champions League
Other - be sure to comment!