Shortly before his longed-for comeback as number one in the national soccer team, Manuel Neuer was stopped by another injury.

The 37-year-old from FC Bayern Munich wanted to celebrate his return in the DFB goal 15 months after his bad leg break on Saturday (9 p.m./ZDF) in the European Championship test clash against France in Lyon. But a torn muscle fiber in his thigh abruptly ruined the ambitious plans of the 2014 world champion and those of national coach Julian Nagelsmann.

According to dpa information, Nagelsmann should soon appoint Neuer as the starting goalkeeper for the home European Championships in the summer. It was initially unclear what the injury meant for these considerations. In the afternoon, Neuer left the team hotel in Gravenbruch near Frankfurt, as the DFB announced. This is also bad news for FC Bayern shortly before the quarter-finals in the Champions League against Arsenal.

The day had started brilliantly for Neuer. With a smile, the goalkeeper walked onto the DFB Academy training pitch in the Frankfurt sunshine. He casually threw a ball up. Well ahead of his fellow goalkeepers, his eternal rival Marc-André ter Stegen, the Munich player reported for the next practice session for the France duel. As number one – also for the home European Championships. With the injury, a lot of things are on hold again. He could only make his international comeback during the immediate preparation for the European Championship on June 3rd against Ukraine in Nuremberg – eleven days before the tournament opening game in Munich against Scotland.

When he returned to the DFB circle after the long forced break as a result of the bad fracture of his lower leg in a skiing accident following the 2022 World Cup, Neuer radiated in the week before his 38th birthday with his facial expressions, gestures and every single parade that he Of course, he wants to be in the German goal at the European Championships in the eighth major tournament in a row in the summer.

ter Stegen is the expected deputy

An official announcement of the personnel was still pending. The national coach should certainly also comment on the topic during a question and answer session with fans in the evening. Who will now be in goal against France and the Netherlands was open – just like the question of the European Championship. In the hierarchy of goalkeepers still present, ter Stegen is the expected deputy for the games in France and then in Frankfurt against the Netherlands.

The 31-year-old from FC Barcelona was Neuer’s first substitute even in Neuer’s absence and had hopes of becoming the starting goalkeeper at the European Championships in the summer. In addition to ter Stegen, the current squad also includes Bernd Leno from FC Fulham and Oliver Baumann from TSG Hoffenheim.

Neuer obviously did not fear Nagelsmann’s announcement. “I’m concentrating on myself, on my performance and will give my all again for the national team,” the Bayern goalkeeper said about his ambitions last weekend after the win in Darmstadt and added: “The coach will then decide.”

And Nagelsmann was able to tackle this personnel issue with the certainty that he had no problem in the goalkeeper position. “We have top goalkeepers in this position,” said defense chief Antonio Rüdiger after training.

“We will have the discussions and then decide what approach we will use in the two games,” said Nagelsmann when he announced his squad, evading the questions about the European Championship goalkeeper. Nevertheless, he also applies his basic principle of assigning roles to all positions with a regular and a backup to the goalkeepers.

Year-long duel between Neuer and ter Stegen

Neuer against ter Stegen, this goalkeeping duel has been a tradition for years. And Neuer’s status was always unshakeable when it became really important. He has been in the DFB goal at four World Cups and three European Championships since 2010. Only when the then national coach Joachim Löw traveled to Russia with a promising squad for the 2017 Confederations Cup was the eternal deputy ter Stegen allowed to appear as number one at a tournament and hoist the winner’s trophy in St. Petersburg.

The overwhelming majority of experts now seemed certain: Neuer will be in the DFB goal in the opening game of the European Championship against Scotland in Munich on June 14th. The Bayern goalkeeper knows from the beginning of his international playing time that there is no security. At the 2010 World Cup he only became number one because René Adler suffered a rib injury at the end of the season.

Neuer will probably be missing beyond the international break

It is uncertain how long Neuer will have to take a break. However, he is unlikely to be available to Bayern beyond the international break. The first game is on March 30th in the Bundesliga against Borussia Dortmund. The first leg against Arsenal will take place in London on April 9th.

A goalkeeper debate before a major home tournament is nothing new. As national coach, Jürgen Klinsmann demoted Oliver Kahn to number two behind Jens Lehmann a few weeks before the 2006 World Cup summer fairytale. It was a decision with football explosive power. The current loser will be able to orientate himself on the Titan’s reaction. As a loyal deputy, Kahn earned a lot of praise in the summer fairy tale.

Even Neuer couldn’t prevent the DFB team’s most recent tournament disappointments in 2018, 2021 and 2022. After his successful club comeback, the Bayern goalkeeper comes with a statistical force in his international match quota: 77 wins, 21 draws and only 19 defeats with less than one goal conceded per game are in his DFB record. He has played 47 times since 2009 with the eagle on his chest to keep a clean sheet. And ter Stegen: 20 wins, 8 draws and ten defeats with 50 goals conceded. But these numbers suddenly no longer mattered to Nagelsmann on the turbulent goalkeeping day.