When Manuel Neuer was sold by Schalke to Bayern Munich in June, not everyone at the Allianz Arena was happy. Supporters could not believe that they had bought their new goalkeeper from Schalke of all places. Not only that, but they had done it for €22 million, which is the second-biggest transfer fee ever paid for a goalkeeper. Eventually the hostility went away and Neuer was welcomed as a Bayern player, but not without a little closer eye on him than usual.
There were times this season when Neuer was absolutely brilliant. He broke a club record for consecutive clean sheets and won a lot of points for Bayern throughout the year. He wasn't perfect, though, making some horrific errors to give points away, drawing the ire of many fans. Now, with a trip to the Bernabeu on tap and high-scoring Real Madrid waiting for them, Bavarian Football Works' Pierson says Neuer can make himself a fan favorite.
Even if Bayern defends pretty well (which I think we will), Manuel Neuer is going to have to make at least a few stops. He came up big last week against Benzema, and that early save set the tone and seemed to frustrate Real a bit. Manuel's first season has been interesting: a few really good saves mixed in with a handful of blunders and strange bad-luck bounces some of which costs us matches. But if he comes up big tomorrow, all that is forgotten.
When you play at the Bernabeu with a spot in the Champions League final on the line, you're a win away from making heroes of your players. Neuer can become one of those heroes if he can help Bayern to the final. Oh, and the final is in Munich. Bayern are dying for a hero. Can Neuer be one of them?
We'll have pre-game and live game coverage in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.