When Bayern Munich take the field against FC Barcelona today, they’ll be without one of their most important outfield players: Manuel Neuer. That’s right, the OG sweeper-keeper — immense to his team’s style of play as well as to their success — possesses such outrageous skill that Bayern may as well be regarded as having no dedicated keeper at all. Just another gifted, technical half-space player who happens to be between the sticks.
His absence will be most keenly felt by the back-line, his regular partners in distribution and early build-up. At his pre-game press conference, center-back Matthijs de Ligt commented on Neuer’s recent injury omission and deputy Sven Ulreich’s turn at the plate.
“Manuel Neuer is one of the best goalkeepers in the world,” De Ligt said simply, and accurately (via @iMiaSanMia). “But Sven has done very well in the last few games and he was also very important for us against Hoffenheim.”
Neuer’s shoes are harder to fill than most — not only because of his special ability and skillset, but also because by nature, the backup keeper usually doesn’t get any work as a substitute. When he has to come in, he comes in cold.
But at the end of the day, it is ‘next man up’, on principle. Ulreich’s had to answer the call, just as any depth player would. And it’s how Bayern are built — to withstand even the toughest of injury blows, and carry on competing in the Champions League and beyond.
“We have multiple good players in each position,” De Ligt concluded.
Interested in a preview of the game? Then why not check out the latest episode of our podcast? We talk about the emergence of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting as a legitimate striker option, as well as what Barcelona have in store for us. Listen to it below or on Spotify.
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