Manuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer has been key to Bayern Munich’s march to the top of the Bundesliga
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Bayern Munich kept their lead at the top of the Bundesliga table over the weekend following a hard-fought 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin on Friday night. In a match that offered few chances for either side as they battled with the elements as often as they did with one another, Bayern were once again forced to rely upon the superb talents of Manuel Neuer to make the most of slim margins. The capital side would have undoubtedly cursed the manner in which Kingsley Coman’s deflected shot looped over their own goalkeeper in the 21st minute to provide the only goal of the game, but were perhaps more perplexed at Neuer’s ability to keep the ball out of the net down the other end of the pitch. For example, Hertha’s midfield carved open Bayern’s defence just three minutes into the match when a through ball found Dodi Lukebakio deep inside the opposing box with just Neuer to beat. However, a low shot was met by the outstretched leg of the Bayern keeper and fired away. In an almost identical situation, Matheus Cunha then managed to beat the offside trap and ran through one-on-one to face Neuer with just one minute left on the clock. However, despite having just the shot-stopper to beat, the Hertha striker fluffed his lines before an outstretched Neuer and watched his dinked shot bounce wide. How good has Neuer been this season?This, perhaps more than any other facet of Hansi Flick’s side, is a recurring theme in this season’s Bundesliga. Sure, Robert Lewandowski scores goals each week and Joshua Kimmich tends to set them up on a regular basis, but it has been Bayen’s goliath between the posts that seems to cement the points each and every matchday. When we take a look at the league’s stats this certainly seems to be the case. Largely because Bayern’s defence has been far from their very best for much of the league campaign and Neuer has had to routinely bail them out. For example, while Bayern may be top of the Bundesliga if the table was instead ranked based on goals conceded they’d only be fifth. Equally, their accumulative xG against for the season also suggests they only have the fifth best defence in the league. This plays out in terms of how many shots Neuer tends to face per game too. So far this season Neuer has faced 212 shots - which suggests only 10 goalkeepers in the Bundesliga have faced more. And when it comes to how many shots the keeper has saved, he currently sits tenth among his top-flight peers. However, what makes Neuer stand out is the nature of his saves. When it comes to how many “super saves” each keeper has made this season, Neuer currently sits second in the division with 29. It’s also worth noting that despite facing more shots than half the division’s goalkeepers this season, only two shot-stoppers have amassed more clean sheets than Neuer in this current campaign. It can often be quite hard to really determine how good a goalkeeper is but in Bayern’s case they have a shot-stopper who is facing an unusual volume of shots this season and pulling off important saves each week. They say a world class goalkeeper can add 10 to 15 points to a team’s points tally by the end of the season and there are few in Munich who would doubt that Bayern’s current seven-point lead over the rest of the division is in no small part down to Neuer’s performances between the posts. .
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Bundesliga Team of the Week: Neuer heroics spare Bayern blushes
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Bayern Munich edged Hertha Berlin 1-0 at the Olympiastadion at the weekend and it was thanks in large part to the heroics of their goalkeeper who features in FC’s Bundesliga Team of the Week.Manuel Neuer (9.3) made seven saves in a man of the match display, hauling Bayern to victory off his own gloves after Kingsley Coman had scored in the 21st minute. It was a win that Bayern needed as the chasing pack all picked up three points themselves, including Bayer Leverkusen who hit five past Stuttgart. Moussa Diaby (8.8), Kerem Demirbay (9.5) and Leon Bailey (8.0) were all involved in two goals each and were the star trio for Leverkusen. Diaby had game-high numbers for dribbles, big chances created and crosses, while Demirbay had a staggering seven shots and eight touches in the box from midfield. The former Hoffenheim man was also a menace defensively, winning four out of five tackles and six of his 13 attempted duels in a dominant man of the match display.Despite the defeat, Stuttgart’s Saca Kalajdzic (8.4) earned a place in the team with his side’s two goals in the 5-2 loss.Filip Kostic (9.3) opened the scoring for Eintracht Frankfurt before breaking the game open at 1-1 just past the hour mark with two rapid fire assists.The Serbian was instrumental down the left-hand side for Frankfurt, playing a game-high seven crosses, creating two big chances and leading his team with 19 passes into the final third. Rounding out the midfield is Koln’s Elvis Rexhbecaj (9.5). The 23-year-old dragged his side to a 2-1 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach, scoring both goals while contributing defensively with 10 of 11 duels won and 10 recoveries. Angelino (9.0) continued his brilliant Bundesliga campaign and features in an RB Leipzig-themed defence in this week’s team. The Spaniard provided two assists on 11 crosses and two big chances, but most impressively had 12 touches in Schalke’s box from left wing-back. Willi Orban (8.3) and Nordi Mukiele (7.4) scored two of the three goals in Leipzig’s 3-0 win, with Mukiele leading all players in aerial duels won and total duels won with six and 11 respectively.Mainz’s Stefan Bell (8.6) finishes off the team with a brilliant defensive display. The German was everywhere for Mainz with 13 clearances, 15 total duels and 10 aerials won, all of which were totals considerably higher than any other player. He added to those a team-high 54 passes at 80% accuracy, also the best in the side, and was a huge reason why Mainz were able to hold onto a 1-0 win over Union Berlin. .
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Messi beats Ronaldo to be named IFFHS Player of the Decade
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Lionel Messi has been named as the IFFHS Player of the Decade, beating Cristiano Ronaldo to the award.The members of the International Federation of Football History (IFFHS) – which spans 150 countries – voted for the best players in the world from 2011 to 2020.Barcelona legend Messi received the most votes, narrowly beating ex-Real Madrid and current Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.The pair have been rivals for the best part of the last 15 years, sharing 11 Ballons d’Or between them.They have faced off numerous times in Clasico clashes and one of football’s big debates has been which of the two superstars is the better footballer.[header: IFFHS Player of the Decade]PlayerTeamPositionLionel MessiBarcelona1Cristiano RonaldoJuventus2Andres IniestaVissel Kobe3NeymarPSG4Sergio RamosReal Madrid5Manuel NeuerBayern Munich6Robert LewandowskiBayern Munich7Gianluigi BuffonJuventus8Zlatan IbrahimovicMilan9Luka ModricReal Madrid10Spanish icon Andres Iniesta completed the podium after enjoying record-breaking success alongside Messi.Another ex-Barcelona star Neymar finished in fourth and Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was in fifth, having won four Champions League titles during the decade in question.The next two places were taken by Bayern Munich duo Manuel Neuer and Robert Lewandowski, with 43-year-old Juventus and Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon the oldest player in the list in eighth position.In ninth was evergreen AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric completing the top 10. .
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