There can only be one number one: Neuer and ter Stegen at odds

Some countries are lucky if they can find one top class goalkeeper at international level. Germany are lucky enough to be spoilt for choice. Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer has the faith of Bundestrainer Joachim Löw and the number 1 jersey for the Nationalmannschaft- much to the chagrin of arguably the one of the best goalkeepers in Europe.

Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has a genuine case to be considered the continents best custodian with perhaps Liverpool’s Alisson or Atlético Madrid’s Jan Oblak running him close. He is the undisputed first-choice for the Catalan giants but has had to settle for a purely back-up role for Germany down the years.

Following the recent round of Euro 2020 qualifiers, ter Stegen voiced his frustration at having to spend the entire time on the bench. In an interview with Spanish paper Marca, the 27-year-old expressed his disappointment.

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“It is not easy to find an explanation [for nor starting] as I am giving the best account of myself in every game to make the decision more difficult. I am nonetheless trying [to become the first-choice goalkeeper], but this trip with the national team has been a tough blow for me.

“It drives me a bit mad. You give the best of yourself and you aren’t where you want to be. I have established my priorities. I want to be successful and the big objective I have is to be the first-choice keeper for my country.”

Manuel Neuer has now responded to ter Stegen’s grumbling indicating that he doesn’t find the Barca keeper’s comments very helpful. Speaking to Sky Deutschland after Bayern’s 1-1 draw with RB Leipzig, Neuer said, “Of course I noticed that. Basically, I think we are a team and we should do everything we can to perform like one. I don’t know if this will help us as a team. The team is the most important thing.

“We have great goalkeepers. We have Kevin Trapp, Bernd Leno, these are all great goalkeepers who also want to play and then sit on the bench. We are a team. We have to stick together. The goalkeepers also have to stick together”

Unfortunately for ter Stegen (excellent as he undoubtedly is), Neuer continues to perform at the top of his game. He produced some top saves against Northern Ireland on Monday in Belfast and then put in another fine display on Saturday to help secure a point at the Red Bull Arena against Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig.

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Joachim Löw will want to avoid any internal disharmony as Germany look to qualify for next summer’s European Championships. There are already a number of question marks hanging over him and his squad both defensively and offensively, so the last thing he wants is to have his keepers unsettled.

There is a great German phrase: ‘der Qual der Wahl’- literally ‘the torture of the choice’. Jogi Löw has der Qual der Wahl, and his choice is Manuel Neuer.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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