Barcelona defeated Bayern Munich 3-0 in the first-leg of the Champions League semi-final tonight, but if it wasn’t for the away side’s offensively good goalkeeper, this tie would be more dead and buried than it already is…
Lionel Messi will rightly receive the plaudits for his two-goal salvo, one of the best seen in this season’s Champions League, but truthfully, Manuel Neuer has just about kept his side hanging on by a thread (although admittedly, it’s probably over…).
A three goal deficit is not insurmountable for a team of Bayern’s magnitude, especially with the second leg to be played at the fortress that is the Allianz Arena.
Remember, Bayern were 3-1 down after the first-leg of their quarterfinal, and went on to batter FC Porto 6-1 in the return.
Throughout the game, here’s some of the outstanding goalkeeping displayed by Neuer, who standardly displayed both a shot-stopping masterclass and an ability to sweep up just behind his back-four.
First, the giant German stopped one third of the world’s most dangerous front-three in Luis Suarez in a one-on-one situation…
Then, he did the same when Dani Alves found himself through on goal in the first-half, with the game still level…
His final act of brilliance came in the second-half, when he somehow managed to read an instantaneous through-ball and clear before Neymar could finish.
Well known pundit and former England player Gary Lineker summed up Neuer’s first-half, while stats website Squawka outlined his influence, too. They also tweeted a picture of Neuer’s bravery, sticking his head in right on top of Suarez’s boot.
This would be over but for the absurdly brilliant Manuel Neuer.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) May 6, 2015
Manuel Neuer, ridiculously brave goalkeeping. Putting his head in where most people wouldn’t put their boot. pic.twitter.com/iIR8qtzHhZ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 6, 2015
It’s not often that a ‘keeper is lauded following a 3-0 defeat, but if the Germans take an early lead in the return leg, they’ll be even more grateful for Neuer’s performance tonight – as they’ll be right back in the tie.
During the game, pundit Jamie Redknapp declared Neuer as the greatest ‘keeper of all time (via Yahoo), and while we’re not ready to make such a bold statement just yet, we can’t imagine that the Bayern man will be too far away from the title once he eventually hangs up his gloves. At 29, he’s still to reach his goalkeeping peak.