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Neuer is fit to play vs Portugal
Big boost for the German camp as No.1 goalkeeper gets green light

Bastian Schweinsteiger with explorer and motivational guru Mike Horn, in Santo Andre, on Tuesday. It was reported by The Telegraph on May 28 that Horn would be trying to help Germany regain the World Cup. (Getty Images)

Sao Paulo: Manuel Neuer has been given the green light to face Portugal in Germany’s opening World Cup match on Monday by the national team’s goalkeeper coach Andreas Kopke.

The Bayern Munich goalkeeper, who resumed practice on Wednesday, has not taken part in a full training session since the DFB-Pokal final last month due to a shoulder injury. But Kopke convinced he would be ready. With Cristiano Ronaldo returning to action for Portugal in their final warm-up game on Tuesday, Neuer’s return would come as a boost to Germany coach Joachim Loew.

“Things are going in the right direction for him. Manuel is experienced enough and we’re constantly discussing how his shoulder feels. It’s not the case that he doesn’t have faith in it. Manuel is fully fit,” Kopke said at a media conference.

Roman Weidenfeller kept goal for Germany’s final two warm-up matches against Cameroon and Armenia and his performances in training have only helped Neuer, according to Kopke, who was Germany’s third-choice when they last won the World Cup in 1990.

“You’ve got to have a great team spirit,” Kopke said. “Roman has said himself that there is no point in arguing about who should be number one. He would be ready to play at any time, but he knows the overall situation.

“The players are pushing each other to greater things with their performances.”

Earlier, coach Loew, too, had quashed fears about Neuer’s fitness by declaring the latter will be part of Germany’s World Cup opener versus Portugal. Neuer was unable to fully participate in the national squad’s 10-day training camp in South Tyrol due to a troublesome shoulder injury that forced him out of the friendly against Armenia in Mainz.

“As Manuel and (national team) doctor (Hans-Wilhelm) Muller-Wohlfahrt said, there is no risk at all of him not being fit for the first game against Portugal… There won’t be any problem. Manuel will be ready,” Loew had said.

To help raise this team spirit, Germany, like most nations participating at the World Cup this summer, will rely on the help of a sports psychologist. Dr. Hans-Dieter Hermann will be doing his best to ensure they are mentally prepared for their World Cup games, and he says the basics are in place for a successful tournament.

“Already, we have a team-building base here," he said. “The conditions could not be any better for our requirements. A World Cup or European Championships is always something particularly special for the players, but they are already particularly good at dealing with pressure.”

Instead, Hermann will be focusing on other aspects, such as the climate conditions. Germany’s opening group match against Portugal kicks off at 1:00pm(local time), when the heat and humidity are approaching their highest levels. “The mind plays a particularly big role,” Hermann said. “You have to try not to focus on the conditions too much.

“Apart from the humidity, which is the real issue, we have the same kinds of temperatures in Germany also.”

At 28, Neuer is still relatively young for a goalkeeper. Blessed with cat-like reflexes, Neuer is excellent on the line and is a good penalty killer. He is prone, however, to rare but spectacular blunders, especially when he ventures far from his goal. Neuer played for Schalke before moving to Bayern Munich in 2011.

Bavarian fans were slow to accept a player from one of the club’s major Bundesliga rivals, but Neuer won them over with his saves. (agencies)