Neuer: We need to be on our guard

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Manuel Neuer jumps onto the fence, stretches his muscles, goes in goal and, like a man possessed, launches himself at the balls fired in from six yards out by goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic. There is no doubt about it: The World's Best Goalkeeper is keen as mustard. "We know there are important games coming up," said Neuer two days ahead of the first home game of the year against Schalke. This match marks the start of a busy run of fixtures for FC Bayern.

In the game against the Bayern shot-stopper's hometown club, the Reds are not only looking to pick up three points as in Freiburg and Bremen but also improve their performance levels, as Neuer declared. "We've got more potential in our ranks than we've shown recently," explained the 30-year-old. "We're determined to play better and we want to start off in the first home game of the new year on Saturday."

Reunion with Badstuber

Although Schalke are currently languishing in eleventh place and failing to live up to their own expectations there is still great respect for the team coached by Markus Weinzierl. "Schalke have their backs to the wall to a certain extent. It's a tricky game as, from a Schalke point of view, it's possible to make amends in a game against FC Bayern," said Neuer, warning against taking Saturday's opponents for granted. "They've got some great players and strengthened their squad over the winter break. We need to be on our guard.”

Striker Guido Burgstaller, signed from FC Nürnberg and also with a goal for his new club to his credit, joins Holger Badstuber as new signings for Schalke in the January transfer window. Saturday sees a prompt reunion with the central defender. "We text each other regularly," said Neuer, "I've offered him my help and I'm happy to be there if he needs me." That friendship will be forgotten for 90 minutes on Saturday but Neuer only has the best of wishes for Badstuber: "We're all hoping he'll play against us and get to play regularly."

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