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Face-off with friends

Neuer looks forward to renewing acquaintances

Twenty years is a long time by anyone’s standards: before he left for Bayern in the summer of 2011, Schalke was Manuel Neuer's first and only club. Nowadays, the keeper is the first name on the team sheet in Munich, but it comes as no surprise to learn that the Bayern and Germany number one regards his fourth clash against his former club as “very special. I'm really looking forward to seeing some familiar faces again. Naturally, the game has a personal dimensional for me," he said on Friday.

The 26-year-old still keeps an eye out for events and developments in Gelsenkirchen. “I hear about everything and I'm very well-informed. I remain a friend of the club," he said. However, even a friendship as deep as that will be set aside for 90 minutes on Saturday, as Neuer seeks to keep another clean sheet - exactly as he has done in the last three meetings between the clubs, all of which ended 2-0 to FCB.

Manuel in good form

“We can't allow ourselves any slip-ups, and the three points are a must," continued the shot-stopper, who has only conceded seven league goals this term, a new record after 20 games of a Bundesliga season. “I'm in good form and I'm making a contribution to our excellent defensive performance," he observed. Manuel in fact spends long periods of many matches as a virtual spectator: “We've not had many games where the keeper has a lot to do, but that doesn't bother me. I'm delighted that the whole team is really satisfied when we let in no goals."

But can he maintain the current record against his former club? Neuer is wary of the current Schalke team. “They generally play well against big-name opponents," warned the keeper, reminding reporters that the Royal Blues won away to Dortmund and Arsenal. “And they'll definitely be looking to trip us up. We have to be totally focused, and we’ll need the right attitude and form on the day."