Germany right to go with Neuer
Former Die Mannschaft goalkeeper Weidenfeller backs Loew's call to stick with his captain in goal, despite an injury-ravaged season
When you produce the world’s best goalkeepers, deciding who should be No. 1 is not that big of an issue.
That is the verdict of veteran custodian Roman Weidenfeller, who recently retired from Borussia Dortmund and was a part of Germany's 2014 World Cup-winning squad.
The 37-year-old is in Singapore over the weekend for a promotional trip for the Bundesliga.
One of the key selection posers for Die Mannschaft in the lead-up to this year's World Cup has been who will start in goal – Manuel Neuer, who played a key role in their 2014 triumph but featured just four times for Bayern Munich in an injury-ravaged season, or Barcelona’s in-form custodian Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Germany goalkeeping legend Oliver Kahn believes the 26-year-old Barca man is currently the best No. 1 in the world and should start for his country.
But after coming through two World Cup warm-ups unscathed, Germany coach Joachim Loew has opted to keep faith in Neuer, confirming that the 32-year-old will again be his first choice in Russia.
Weidenfeller knows how it feels to shine for your club but play second fiddle to Neuer at international level, but he believes Loew has made the right call.
“It is not easy for him (ter Stegen), he’s had a good season for Barcelona and is a great goalkeeper, too. But, for me, in a pressure situation, I would prefer Neuer too. He has more experience in big games and he pushes the team,” the Dortmund club ambassador told The New Paper at Post Bar at The Fullerton Hotel on Saturday (June 16).
“Spain are great, too, but I think in Germany, we have no problems with goalies.
“We have a good goalie school in Germany, so we know we produce the best goalkeepers in the world.”
While sides like England and Argentina spent their World Cup warm-ups fretting over who should start in goal, Germany have an embarrassment of riches with Paris Saint-Germain’s Kevin Trapp as third choice behind Neuer and ter Stegen, and reported Arsenal target Bernd Leno not even in the squad.
Neuer and Co kick off their World Cup defence on Sunday night against a Mexico side whom Germany legend Lothar Matthaeus believes can beat anyone on their day.
Weidenfeller feels Juan Carlos Osorio’s team are Germany’s toughest test in a Group F that also features South Korea and Sweden, who had vanquished Italy and Holland en route to the World Cup.
He said: “It’s not easy for Germany, the first game of a World Cup is always complicated.
“Mexico are a good team, so they need to be focused and play fast.”
After breezing through qualifying with a 100 per cent record, Germany have been less impressive in recent friendlies, losing to Austria and Brazil and scraping to a one-goal win over Saudi Arabia.
Weidenfeller admits that it might have been better if Mexico hadn’t been first up for Germany, but believes his nation’s reputation as a tournament team means their friendly form is not a concern.
He said: “Playing friendlies is different to playing a World Cup.
“The national team is a great team when it comes to tournaments.
“When they play in the World Cup or European Championship, they know they have to play well, and they do it.”
Should Germany play well, they could meet fellow favourites Brazil in the knockout stage, with Neymar admitting he wants revenge for the 7-1 semi-final defeat four years ago.
The Brazil superstar, who missed the game through injury, added that he believed the match would have panned out different had he been fit.
Laughing, Weidenfeller quipped: “Yup, we would have just won 6-1.”