Manuel Neuer has been dubbed “the best goalkeeper in the world” by Oliver Kahn as he prepares for Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup semi-final against Brazil. The 28-year-old has played a key part in Germany’s run to the last four by dominating his penalty area and pulling off a string of key saves.
Neuer has shown great timing and judgement by frequently cutting out long passes or crosses with runs out of his own area, often acting more like an extra defender.
He has conceded only three goals in five games and was outstanding in the Germans’ nervy 2-1 last 16 win to shut Algeria out until the 121st-minute of extra time.
Neuer then nullified France’s potent attack in Friday’s 1-0 quarter-final win at the Maracana to set up the Selecao clash in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday for a place in the July 13 final. He frequently denied France’s Karim Benzema, including a crucial save just before the final whistle to palm away the Real Madrid star’s goal-bound shot.
Former Germany midfielder and TV pundit Mehmet Scholl has dubbed him ‘Icecube Neuer’ for his composure while ex-national team captain Kahn says he is the world’s best. “He has proven at this World Cup that he is currently the world’s best goalkeeper,” said Kahn, who captained Germany to their 2002 World Cup final defeat against Brazil.
“Everyone knows that he is a wonderful footballer who can play really well. But what is crucial is that in important situations he can rescue the victory. That is ultimately what he will be measured by.”
Kahn was voted best player and goalkeeper at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, but Neuer said he would rather finish his stay in Brazil with a different trophy. “I’d rather have the World Cup,” he said with a grin.
His Maracana heroics earned some teasing from team-mates Thomas Mueller and Lukas Podolski, who chanted ‘world’s best keeper!’ as Neuer took questions in the mixed zone.
With the Selecao up next, albeit minus injured superstar Neymar, Neuer lived up to his ice-cool nickname. “We’ll have to see what sort of a spectacle the semi-final is,” he said.
“A lot of my saves are automatic, the team defends the middle of the goal, so I just have to close down the short corner. I’m proud of the performances and results, I hope the fans are behind us now.”