Lisbon (dpa) – Seven years ago, Manuel Neuer was over the moon with the handle jar in his hands.
On Sunday evening, however, the national football goalkeeper should be the first to lift the silver trophy above Lisbon after Bayern Munich’s triumph in the Champions League final against Paris Saint-Germain.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin will hand them over to the captain of the winning team on the lawn of Estádio da Luz after the final whistle. After Bayern’s 2-1 victory in the 2013 German final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium in London, it was Philipp Lahm who lived this special moment of happiness for a professional footballer.
Neuer was able to ensure that he also enjoys this crippled experience. The 34-year-old is one of the key figures in the long-awaited showdown between Bayern and PSG. The captain said he was “extremely pleased with this final,” in which he must be the last stop sign against the glamorous and extremely dangerous attack in Paris involving superstars Neymar and Kylian Mbappé.
Neuer is also preparing for an attacking spectacle in the stadium of Benfica Lisbon, in which Bayern won the quarter-finals of FC Barcelona 8-2. “In the attacking rows, both have great players, famous players. In the games that both teams have played, there have always been a lot of goals,” said Neuer.
But he is very familiar with the really big tasks in the really big games. It is his third final in the premier class. And in the 2014 World Cup final with Germany, he still scored zero after 120 grueling minutes against Argentina.
At the Final 8 tournament in Portugal, Neuer presented himself in world class form. In the viscous success of the Munich semi-final against Olympique Lyon, he thwarted the connecting goal in his biggest scene to date against Toko Ekambi. “That’s what makes the world-class goalkeeper so there, that he has the peace of mind in such one-on-one situations,” said Bayern board member Oliver Kahn.
The former goalkeeper-titan believes that even exceptional talents like Neymar or Mbappé can come face to face with Neuer in a final. “It is of course different for a striker when you have a one-on-one situation for Manuel Neuer. As a striker you know you are dealing with one, if not the best goalkeeper in the world,” said Kahn: “Manuel is unique!”
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel is also aware of the special importance of a reliable number 1, especially in a final. Keylor Navas wants to play again in the semi-final against RB Leipzig after his injury-related absence. The predominantly knowledgeable sports newspaper “L’Equipe” reported that he was fit. The 33-year-old from Costa Rica has won the premier class three times in a row with Real Madrid. He is more experienced and better than his representative Sergio Rico.
A constellation poker has long since broken out between Bayern coach Hansi Flick and his German opponent Tuchel, who will likely be able to bring back recovered midfielder Marco Verratti. And what does Flick do? Will he play Benjamin Pavard as a fullback after a recently overcome foot injury against Neymar? Joshua Kimmich could then switch back to defensive midfield to provide more defensive stability.
Besides the seeded Lewandowski, Müller and Gnabry, an exchange could also be offered in advance. Flick could replace the robust Ivan Perisic with the dribbling Kingsley Coman, who trained as a pro at PSG. Both coaches face tough decisions until kick-off on Sunday (9 p.m. / ZDF, Sky, DAZN).
The 28th Champions League final will certainly be extraordinary as, for the first time, there will be no spectators at the season highlight. The Bayern professionals have not forgotten their fans. “We miss you,” said Neuer and Co. in a message from Portugal to their supporters, who cannot be in the stadium due to Corona.
“We will do everything we can to make your and our dream come true,” said a letter to fans on Saturday. We had “a long season that was unusual for all of us for known reasons – and despite everything, now only one victory separates us from the second triple in our club history”. In 2013 this three-time captain was called Philipp Lahm. And 2020 Manuel Neuer?
The likely lineups:
Paris Saint-Germain: Navas – Kehrer, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat – Verratti, Marquinhos, Paredes – di Maria, Mbappé, Neymar
Bayern Munich: Neuer – Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies – Kimmich, Goretzka – Gnabry, Müller, Coman – Lewandowski
Referee: Orsato (Italy)