Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer eyes Champions League final return

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MUNICH — Manuel Neuer has told Stern he not ruled out playing in the Champions League final if Bayern Munich can beat holders Real Madrid in the semifinal.

Goalkeeper Neuer has broken his foot three times since last March and has made only three Bundesliga appearances this season, the last of them on Sept. 16.

The 32-year-old Germany international had warned after having surgery that month that his recovery could take at least six months.

“Everything has to be right, but it has motivated me very much during my recovery that we are still in two competitions — the DFB Pokal and the Champions League — which provide me with prospects to play this season,” Bayern captain Neuer said.

“My performance in training will be crucial. I have missed the feeling of being needed.”

With back-up keeper Sven Ulreich having impressed, Neuer knows he cannot just walk back into the team.

“I cannot come from nowhere and demand I play in the final,” he said. “My performance during training will be decisive.”

Neuer said his healing process had “stagnated” at the start and he wondered: “What is my body doing to me?”

However, he was able to take part in Bayern team training for the first time in over seven months on Friday and has also set his sights on the World Cup.

“I’m very pleased with how things have gone so far but I would have of course liked to have made more progress,” he said.

“I think that I will be able to play in the World Cup this summer and this is what I want as well.”

Neuer also spoke to Sport Bild about his recovery and said he was keen not to rush back too soon.
“After such an injury and rehabilitation, everything is a motivation, also a Bundesliga game,” he said.

“Of course I would love to help the team, but I have to wait and see what the next steps will be.

“It is important, too, what the doctors say about when I can make my comeback. I also have to be happy with my performance and be honest with myself.

“Can I hold my own again after such a long absence? Or do I have to say I’m not ready and need more training? I can’t answer that at the moment — there are still many question marks.”

Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.