On 35th birthday
Sat, 27/03/21, 10:12
6 saves that show why Manuel Neuer is the world's best goalkeeper
In December, Manuel Neuer was recognised as the world’s best goalkeeper in 2020 at The Best FIFA Football Awards. The FC Bayern captain now celebrates his 35th birthday on Saturday. Anyone who thinks that Neuer has lost any of his quality with age is very mistaken. Week in, week out, he proves his class in the Bayern goal and frustrates opposition attackers. fcbayern.com looks back on some of his outstanding saves over the last year.
1. The wall of Lisbon
In the 2020 Champions League final, Neuer was up against two of the best forwards in Europe in Kylian Mbappé and Neymar, yet neither of them managed to beat the Bayern skipper. Of numerous world-class saves, it’s one – or rather two – in the 18th minute that particularly stick out. Neuer fended off the first effort from Neymar, who was through on goal, and then blocked the Brazilian’s follow-up attempt with an incredible dive (see photo). After the game, PSG coach Thomas Tuchel spoke of “competition bias” with a grin on his face. In the end, the Paris attack failed to score in the Champions League for the first time since 2016, and it was Neuer’s name on the trophy. The two teams will meet again in the quarter-finals of this year’s competition, and Neuer will surely be looking forward to another battle against Neymar and Co.
2. Neuer secures eighth title
On 16 June 2020, Bayern had the chance to wrap up the Bundesliga title at Werder Bremen. Robert Lewandowski put them on course with the opening goal, but the decision was almost adjourned. It was only thanks to Neuer’s incredible reflexes in stoppage time that the title was sealed early, as the GOATkeeper pushed away Yuya Osako’s header, which was heading into the bottom corner, and so FCB celebrated their eighth successive title.
3. The arm of Manu
In the 2020 DFL Supercup, Bayern threw away a two-goal lead and almost found themselves behind. Shortly after the equaliser to make it 2-2, Erling Haaland was clear through on Neuer’s goal and aimed for the left corner from around 16 metres. But the two-time treble winner stayed on his feet, made himself big and rapidly stuck an arm out. The ball bounced off and the Reds went on to lift the trophy.
4. Neuer keeps Bayern in it against Sevilla
It was a true drama that went into extra time. But the 2020 UEFA Super Cup would never even have gone that far had Neuer not rescued the Champions League winners. The five-time IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper made one fine stop after the other. In the 46th minute, he denied Luuk de Jong from close range, before making two excellent saves in the 87th and 91st minutes from Youssef En-Nesyri, who had the winning goal at his feet. It was only thanks to Neuer that Javi Martínez could then head in the winner in extra time.
5. Salzburg frustrated by Neuer
The frustration was written on the face of Salzburg’s Enock Mwepu in December 2020. “How did he keep that one out?” his eyes read. After Neuer had parried Mërgim Berisha’s shot, the ball landed at the feet of Mwepu. The Zambian was straight onto it, but Neuer set himself in a flash and managed to divert the ball over the bar with his shoulder – simply unbelievable!
6. Fast feet
When a striker is one-on-one against a goalkeeper, the fans are often celebrating already – unless the man in goal is Manuel Neuer. It takes a lot to beat the Germany number one in these situations as he regularly makes lightning-quick reaction saves. One example is the home match against Hoffenheim in late January, when Ihlas Bebou suddenly appeared in front of Neuer, but the FIFA Best Goalkeeper was able to stick out a foot and block the Hoffenheim forward’s effort.
In a recent interview, Neuer explained the secrets to his success: