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Opinion: Picking Manuel Neuer would be a sentimental choice

May 9, 2018

Other German goalkeepers have done more to merit a place on the plane to Russia for this summer's World Cup. Were Joachim Löw to stick with Manuel Neuer, it would be a sentimental decision, argues DW's Matt Ford.

WM in Gefahr?  Loews Plan mit dem verletzten Manuel Neuer
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/SvenSimon

"I was always convinced that I would make it!" Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer told GQ magazine recently. "Only the exact timing of my comeback wasn't quite 100 percent."

At first, it was meant to be January. Then it was the start of March. Now it's almost the middle of May and Neuer is still yet to play a game for Bayern since recovering from a metatarsal injury.

Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes has confirmed he won't play against Stuttgart this weekend either and, given that he's only played four games in all competitions this season, it seems unlikely that he'll replace Sven Ulreich in the German Cup final on May 19. 

And the World Cup is edging ever closer.

On Monday May 14, national team coach Joachim Löw is to name a provisional squad of up to 35 players before narrowing that down on 4 June to a final 23-man roster for the World Cup in Russia, consisting of 20 outfield players and three goalkeepers.

Matt Ford Kommentarbild
DW's Matt Ford

Whether Neuer, Germany's World Cup-winning goalkeeper of 2014, will be one of them, is still unclear.

What is clear however is that, the longer the wait goes on, the more a decision to include the 32-year-old would be a sentimental one.

And it's not as if Germany don't have other world class options to replace him, the stand-out candidate being Marc-André ter Stegen.

The 26-year-old has excelled for unbeaten Spanish champions Barcelona this season and was in goal for four of Germany's five games at the Confederations Cup last summer.

The former Borussia Mönchengladbach stopper has also impressed on a personal level, expressing himself articulately and intelligently at press conferences and developing into a popular member of the national team – qualities which should not be underestimated in a close, claustrophobic tournament environment.

Löw knows this, but the 58-year-old coach is notoriously loyal to key squad members – standing by the likes of Mario Götze, Julian Draxler and Mesut Özil when they've endured difficult spells at club level.

"We're in constant contact with [Neuer]," said Löw in the Allianz Arena ahead of Bayern's Champions League semifinal first leg against Real Madrid three weeks ago. "He's in training, his foot is carrying his full weight and showing no reactions. We're sticking with him."

But, with a chance to become only the second national team coach to successful defend a World Cup title (after Italy's Vittorio Pozzo in 1934 and 1938), he shouldn't let sentimentality dictate his World Cup choices.