Busy Neuer holds on to see Bayern win group
None of the Salzburg players actually checked if the Allianz Arena goals Manuel Neuer guarded on Wednesday night had shrunk. But they might have felt what Neuer's coach said in praise of the keeper's outstanding display: "He radiates such a calm that the goal seems to get smaller and smaller for any attacker running towards him," said Hansi Flick.
Flick praises his goalkeeper
The 34-year-old's strong performance this evening in the 3-1 win certainly contributed to this feeling. Against Salzburg, the Germany keeper showed a whole range of his skills, which makes him a top contender to regain the title of World Goalkeeper of the Year. Neuer was calm and collected in his match, for example when he made Mergim Berisha (15th minute) despair in a one-on-one and displayed almost unearthly reactions when he deflected the shot from Enock Mwepu (70') with his shoulder.
Jérôme Boateng has no doubts over who the best keeper in the world is.
"He does it sensationally, he has insane reflexes - I'm really glad that he is currently in this form," Flick said, praising his goalkeeper, who had to excel against the Salzburgers more than usual. Neuer has never before had to make as many saves (10) in a competitive match for Bayern as he had to tonight against the Austrian champions. Only once before has he had to save more; in March 2008, when, for previous club FC Schalke, he made 11 saves against FC Porto in the Last 16 of the UCL, in a thrilling match that lasted over 120 minutes.
Neuer remains modest
"You do what you can, and I always try to save the ball," the exceptional goalkeeper said modestly after the game. "For me, the most important thing is to be a support for the team," continued Neuer, who was a little annoyed that he had to take a back seat after Berisha's late goal for Salzburg's (73'): "The defence always wants to keep clean sheets, but that's not always possible."
Even if it was not enough for a clean slate, Neuer, together with his defence ahead of him, played a major role in the Munich team securing first place in their Champions League group prematurely. According to Head Coach Flick, all it took that evening was a simple formula: "I'm very satisfied with our efficiency - and of course we have a world-class goalkeeper at the back," the 55-year-old summed up.
Manuel Neuer has been nominated for the World Goalkeeper of the Year award. Here you can help him to win the award with your vote: