Hansi Flick is concerned Bayern Munich are too reliant on Manuel Neuer as the European champions prepare to defend their slim Bundesliga lead at VfB Stuttgart today.
Having produced two reflex saves in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen, Neuer was again superb on Wednesday in a 3-1 home win against RB Salzburg which secured them a spot in the UEFA Champions League round-of-16.
“It’s sensational how he parries big chances and saves us from conceding goals. He had a few things to do — too much for me,” Flick said.
The 34-year-old Neuer brushed off the praise after making 10 saves against Salzburg, saying that “the most important thing is to support the team.”
Yet his form has landed Neuer on the FIFA list for best male goalkeeper of the year.
“He’s in the shape of his life,” said Flick, whose team qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds as group winners on Wednesday after their 15th straight victory in Europe. “When opposing forwards approach him, the goal gets smaller and smaller for them. He has amazing reflexes. We have a world-class goalkeeper between the posts.”
However, Bayern are guilty of giving possession away too cheaply, like when a Leroy Sane mistake resulted in Salzburg’s goal.
“There are too many unnecessary ball losses, we have to minimize our mistakes, these are the issues I have always addressed,” Flick said.
It has been 13 years since Bayern lost at Stuttgart, whose top-scorer Nicolas Gonzalez is sidelined with a knee injury.
Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski has scored 11 goals in seven games to make him the league’s top scorer, but Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland is lurking just one goal behind and in red-hot form.
Second-placed Dortmund host Cologne today, with Haaland having scored six goals in his past two games.
The Norwegian goal ace on Tuesday netted twice against Club Brugge KV in the Champions League after hitting four against Hertha BSC in the Bundesliga last weekend.
Dortmund have won six of their past seven games and all of their past four against Cologne.
Switzerland international striker Breel Embolo scored with a spectacular bicycle-kick as Borussia Moenchengladbach’s 4-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday edged them closer to the Champions League round-of-16.
His teammates have nicknamed Embolo “Captain Tsubasa” after his stunning kick was reminiscent of the Japanese cartoon character.
“The boys will say that the goal is typical of me: I put away the most difficult ball and missed the easier ones,” Embolo said.
Strugglers Schalke 04 visit Borussia Park today after a turbulent week for the Royal Blues, who sacked striker Vedad Ibisevic, and suspended midfielders Amine Harit and Nabil Bentaleb amid disciplinary issues.
Schalke are winless in their past 24 games, so expect Embolo and his fellow attackers to inflict more misery on the bottom-of-the-table side.
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