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Boateng v Ronaldo

Neuer & Co ready for Portugal

Four weeks after sustaining a shoulder injury in the DFB Cup final, Manuel Neuer has declared himself fit and ready to play when Germany open their World Cup campaign against Portugal on Monday. “Yes, I’m fit, really fit,” the FCB keeper stated on the day prior to the match, “I can perform all the drills and I’ve come through all the tests.”

“I’ve obviously not had so many training sessions. But my priority was to regain peak physical shape, build up my mental strength and make sure I didn’t lose anything. And I haven’t,” continued the 28-year-old, who missed his country’s last two warm-up matches against Cameroon (2-2) and Arminia (6-1). “But that’s not a factor for me,” insisted Neuer.

The keeper has been working hard at Germany’s Campo Bahia base: “I’ve completed the goalkeeping training sessions, I’ve joined in the team sessions and I’ve felt good.” Joachim Löw has repeatedly emphasised Neuer’s immense quality. “I see no danger and no risk in playing him,” commented the Germany head coach, “he doesn’t need any injections or pain killers.”

Key role for Boateng

Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who like Neuer both carried injuries into the build-up, have also recovered full fitness. Going into his sixth major international tournament, Lahm will start in defensive midfield for the first time, the position he mainly filled for FC Bayern last season. Jérôme Boateng is poised to reprise a vital role he performed at Euro 2012 as right-back and the direct opponent of World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo. The Germans won that encounter 1-0.

However, Ronaldo is not the Iberians’ only danger man. “Moutinho, Nani and Ronaldo, and behind them the very experienced Alves, Pepe and Coentrão, are all high-quality players. They’re a very dangerous team,” warned Löw, who has spent the last seven days at Campo Bahia fine-tuning his team. In Germany’s 100th match at the World Cup finals, Lahm, Neuer & Co are keen to lay down a marker, as ex-FCB man Lukas Podolski stated: “We want the other nations to look at us and say: Wow, the Germans are up for it!”