After testing positive for COVID-19, Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer has been quarantining in the Maldives for the past week or so. Although it’s unknown exactly what he’s done to entertain himself during that time, one thing we now know: he followed Bayern’s first game of the year.
Neuer posted a picture on his Instagram story of him watching Bayern’s game against Gladbach, despite the early hours of the morning. The game, which was at 8:30pm Munich time, was on at half past midnight in the Maldives. Sadly, it wasn’t worth staying up so late, as Bayern lost 1-2 despite a valiant effort from a decimated squad.
Now, a midnight kickoff may seem pretty late to most people, but to Asian football fans in general, it’s pretty much the norm. People in the far east (e.g. me) normally watch Bundesliga games between 10:30-11:30pm, and the occasional 6:30pm local time kickoff instantly turns into a 1:30-2:30am game, depending on whether Daylight Saving Time is in place. What about the Champions League? Try 4am or 5am kickoffs. The point is, being an Asian football fan is extremely tough, and I found it funny that Neuer got a slight taste of what it’s like to be one.
Neuer won’t have to stay much longer in the Maldives, though. As per Bild and coach Julian Nagelsmann, his quarantine ends on Monday, so he’ll be able to travel back to Munich in the next few days. With any luck, he could be back between the sticks when Bayern goes up to Cologne next week. Neuer’s return would be a huge blessing; although Sven Ulreich did what he could do in Neuer’s absence, there’s a certain void that you just can’t fill unless you’re the world’s best goalkeeper.
Bayern’s other COVID-stricken players are slowly starting to return as well. Corentin Tolisso has rejoined team training, while Kingsley Coman and Omar Richards are also out of quarantine. Lucas Hernandez is set to come out on Friday, and it can be assumed that Tanguy Nianzou, whose test results came back the same day as Lucas, will do the same. Whether that will be enough for them to make the squad for next week’s game remains to be seen. Whatever the case, the game will almost certainly come too soon for the remaining trio of Alphonso Davies, Dayot Upamecano, and Leroy Sané.