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Brondby retain their title – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • *Brondby win the FIFA eClub World Cup *
  • The Danish side won the inaugural edition last year
  • Four players qualify for the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs

Brondby are celebrating again after retaining their crown in the second edition of the FIFA eClub World Cup in Paris. The tournament offered up four qualifying spots for the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs, which will be held between 28 and 30 May and then from 1 to 3 June in Amsterdam – where 32 places will be up for grabs at the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018.

After a thrilling and spectacular opening day in the French capital, Sunday’s action kicked off with the last two rounds of games in groups A and B, which brought the group stage to a close. It was then time for the knockout phase, and Brondby ultimately came out on top despite a shaky start.

The champions

Having finished third in Group B, TEAM ENVY began to find form in the quarter-finals. ‘Aero’ (Xbox) from France and Germany’s ‘Eisvogel’ (PS4) impressed by carving out a path to the final, where they finished runners-up to Brondby.

The decider was an exciting affair, however, with ‘Eisvogel’ handing his team-mate a superb opportunity by clinching a 4-1 win against ‘Fredberg’. ‘Aero’ was unable to capitalise on that advantage, succumbing 6-0 to ‘Fifaustun’ as the Danish team prevailed 7-4 on aggregate.

“My team-mate’s goal gave me hope,” said ‘Fifaustun’ after the final. “I played very aggressively with the goal of scoring as much as possible, and everything ended up in the net.”

Through to Amsterdam

With half the players in the semi-finals already qualified for the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs, the four tickets to Amsterdam were automatically handed to the four other players in the last four:

  • Khalid ‚The royal‘ Aloufi, Saudi Arabia, Falcons eSport (Xbox)
  • Marvyn ‚Aero‘ Robert, France, TEAM ENVY (Xbox)
  • Frederik ‚Fredberg‘ Fredberg, Denmark, Brøndby IF, (PS4)
  • Daniele ‚IcePrinsipe‘ Paolucci, Italy, Mkers, (PS4)

The other contenders

After a difficult first day, UNILAD and PSG eSports *were unable to recover and qualify for the quarter-finals. The English side, represented by reigning world champion ‘Gorilla’ (Xbox) and by ‘SHELLZZ’ (PS4), had no room for error but were eliminated after falling short against *FC Schalke 04 Esports.

As for the French team, they faced heartbreak after another tough day. ‘Daxe’ (Xbox) and ‘Maniika’ (PS4) failed to pull off a comeback and exited following a draw and a defeat.

There was frustration too for Hashtag Academy, who topped Group A but fell to Mkers in the last eight. With ‘TheStrxngeR’ in scintillating form, FC Basel 1893 also had hopes of reaching the semi-finals, only to be knocked out by TEAM ENVY.

Lastly, Falcons eSport‘s Saudi Arabian duo looked to be genuine candidates for the title thanks to their blistering attacking quality, but ‘The Royal’ and ‘Msdossary7’ had no answer to *TEAM ENVY *in the last four.

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– FIFA on GBP Sports

  • A number of U-20 World Cup stars have won the senior edition
  • We look at quartet from 2015 and 2017 editions who could feature in Russia
  • Jesus, Silva, Bentancur and Alvarez profiled

© Getty Images

The FIFA U-20 World Cup can act as a launchpad for a successful career, or at the very least a positive learning experience for any young player. If the senior FIFA World Cup™ is used as a barometer, then the evidence of the importance of its ‘little brother’ is clear.

Ten of Spain’s successful 2010 World Cup squad gained a grounding at the U-20 World Cup, while fabled World Cup winners Diego Maradona, Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho all featured at an U-20 World Cup before leading their country to glory at the senior edition.

With Russia 2018 approaching, looks at stars of the most recent editions of the U-20 World Cup who could feature at the senior finals this year.

DOB: 3/4/97 (age 21)

At the 2015 U-20 World Cup:
  • Scored in opener against Nigeria
  • Laid on three assists for team-mates
  • Led side to final against Serbia

Their talisman Neymar aside, Gabriel Jesus is the Brazilian everybody is talking about heading into Russia 2018. Three years ago, Jesus was already turning heads – having featured for Palmeiras in the Brazilian top flight aged 18. The youngster would go on to impress at New Zealand 2015, helping his side to the final.

Since then, Jesus’ stock has only risen. His precocious performances caught the eye of Manchester City, who signed him in the summer of 2016 for arrival in January 2017, and he duly helped City break Premier League records on their way to the 2017/18 title. The forward has also become an integral part of the senior A Seleção side, scoring six goals in ten World Cup qualifying matches, after he scored three in six games on the way to Men’s Olympic Football Tournament gold with the hosts at Rio 2016.

DOB: 6/11/95 (age 22)

At the 2015 U-20 World Cup:
  • Scored four in five games
  • Provided two assists
  • Helped his side reach last eight

It will not be easy for Portugal to move on from the Cristiano Ronaldo era, but the Real Madrid man has identified his heir in the Seleccion das quinas side: Andre Silva. This heavy responsibility has been put on the forward’s broad shoulders, after his impressive performances so far for youth and senior sides. He impressed at New Zealand 2015 with four goals at a reasonably impressive rate of one every 114 minutes.

He went on to make his senior debut after the victorious UEFA EURO 2016 campaign and has scored 11 goals in 20 appearances – including nine in ten World Cup qualifying games. His move to Italian giants AC Milan in June 2017 has not been a resounding success, but he remains a key part of Fernando Santos’s plans for Russia 2018.

DOB: 25/6/97 (age 20)

At the 2017 U-20 World Cup:
  • Made six appearances
  • Scored penalty in semi-final shootout
  • Finished fourth

It is safe to say that Rodrigo Bentancur’s trajectory since the Korea Republic 2017 has been upward. The Uruguayan youngster played a crucial role in La Celeste’s midfield at last year’s U-20 World Cup, helping the side to fourth. He had already agreed to sign for Italian giants Juventus the month prior to the finals, and formally joined them from Boca Juniors in July 2017.

Bentancur was often used from the bench by coach Massimiliano Allegri during another successful Serie A campaign for Juventus. He made his senior international debut in October 2017 off the bench against Venezuela in qualifying for Russia 2018 and has started every game for Los Charruas since.

© Getty Images

DOB: 24/10/97 (age 20)

At the 2017 U-20 World Cup:
  • Scored in opener versus Vanuatu
  • Helped keep clean sheets against Germany and Senegal
  • Reached quarter-finals

To say the U-20 World Cup was key in helping Edson Alvarez get senior international recognition would be a little far from the truth, as the Club America man actually made his senior debut for El Tri ten days before he made his first appearance for the U-20 side. However, Juan Carlos Osorio certainly took note of Alvarez’s performances at Korea Republic 2017 and has utilised the young defender since.

After helping Mexico to the last eight at the U-20 finals, Alvarez went on to feature prominently at the 2017 Gold Cup, and played twice during World Cup qualifying. He has since been named in successive Osorio squads for the friendlies directly after Mexico sealed their ticket to Russia 2018.

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Team Wellington crowned continental kings, earn Club World Cup berth – FIFA on GBP Sports

New Zealand’s Team Wellington are the new OFC Champions League holders thanks to a comfortable aggregate victory over Fiji’s Lautoka in the final, which has earned them a ticket to this year’s FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Team Wellington held a massive 6-0 lead after the one-sided first leg at home, and there was little doubt to the final outcome on Sunday after the visitors held a two-goal lead at the break thanks to a double from Mario Ilich. 

Solomon Islander Benjamin Totori scored a second-half double for Lautoka, but Team Wellington grabbed a late winner from Angus Kilkolly for a 4-3 win on the day and a massive 10-3 aggregate scoreline.

It is a long-awaited breakthrough for Team Wellington after they finished runners-up to compatriots Auckland City in each of the past three seasons.  

The capital club ended the seven-year reign of Auckland City in the semi-final with an away goals win after a 2-2 aggregate scoreline.

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Three through, UNILAD and PSG in trouble – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • FIFA eClub World Cup got underway on Saturday
  • Team Envy, FC Basel 1893 and Hashtag Academy through to quarter-finals
  • Tough day for UNILAD and PSG eSports​

The top EA SPORTS FIFA teams are in Paris for the FIFA eClub World Cup this weekend and the first five rounds of matches in Groups A and B were played on Saturday. Team Envy, FC Basel 1983 and Hashtag Academy have already booked their spots in the quarter-finals, while UNILAD and PSG both have it all to do.

The 16 teams will be back in action on Sunday, when the final two sets of group-stage fixtures will be contested followed by the knockout stage. Four tickets to the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs are up for grabs.

Reminder: Each team consists of one player per console (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One), who face their respective counterparts in individual games. The aggregate score from these encounters determines the winners of each match.

Group A: UNILAD unimpressive, Hashtag cruise
With big names in the shape of ‘Gorilla’ (Xbox) and ‘SHELLZZ’ (PS4) in their line-up, UNILAD went into the competition tipped as one of the favourites. However, the English duo were in for a rude awakening, losing twice and drawing the other of their opening three matches. Although they bounced back to claim their first victory in their fourth encounter, they signed off by being held to another draw. It was a day to forget for world champion ‘Gorilla’, who is usually renowned for his firepower.

By contrast, with five wins in as many matches, ‘Ryan’ and ‘Boras’ reminded everyone why Hashtag Academy are an eSports powerhouse. The English outfit ran riot, racking up the best goal difference of any team (32 goals scored to just 15 conceded, +17) and are through to the quarter-finals in style. FC Basel 1893, for whom ‘TheStrxngeR’ was in majestic form, also progressed after impressing throughout, particularly with their resolute defending.

Group B: Envy advance, Falcons also flying
Frenchman ‘Aero’ and his German team-mate ‘Eisvogel’ can sleep easy after securing Team Envy‘s berth in the quarter-finals at the earliest opportunity. With a record of four wins and a solitary draw, they sit top of Group B and are guaranteed to finish in the top four, whatever happens on Sunday.

For their part, Falcons eSport – who won a regional final last season – dazzled with their attacking play, with ‘The Royal’ and ‘Msdossary 7’ coming out all guns blazing. The Saudi Arabian duo produced a string of swashbuckling, cavalier displays – bagging 38 goals and conceding 28 along the way – to put one foot in the last eight.

Despite having ‘home’ advantage, PSG eSports endured a challenging day. It got off to a difficult start when ‘Rocky’ had to pull out, with ‘PSG Daxe’ (Xbox) coming in to partner ‘Maniika’ (PS4), and their fortunes were mixed thereafter. After two victories and three losses, the French pair are languishing in sixth and head into Sunday’s final two Group B matches knowing that they cannot afford any further slip-ups.

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The Week in Quotes – FIFA on GBP Sports

“I don’t consider myself a veteran. As you can see, my spirit is about 13 years old. Who knows, maybe when the 2022 World Cup comes around, I will still be competing for a place on the team. My body will be 39, but my spirit will have only turned 17.”
Brazil right-back Dani Alves writes in The Players’ Tribune after it was announced he would miss out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ due to suffering a knee injury during Paris Saint-Germain’s Coupe de France victory

“At the moment if I want to continue to work, I think I have to move out of the country, because my gut feeling at the moment is that I would feel I would betray my club by staying in England. People might feel that I’ve betrayed what I’ve built here.”
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger talks about his plans with the club’s official website after leading the club for 22 years

“If nothing strange happens, this World Cup will be my last participation with the Spanish national team.”
Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta tells Onda Cero radio that he will likely retire from the national team after the World Cup in Russia

“I would be dishonest if I told you I’m not afraid. But deep down I feel calm and at peace because I know I’m naturally curious. And the day I stop playing football I will find a way not to get bored and I’ll stay busy. After all, players like us, who have lived the game intensely, have to keep their minds occupied and have a reason to get up, something to fight for. I’ll never get bored or miss being in the public eye. The only problem is that my life has been organised for me for 23 years. Every morning you are given a timetable. But when you have 24 hours ahead of you with nothing to do, that could be a problem.”
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon speaks with Gerard Pique for The Players’ Tribune on whether he is afraid of retirement

“There was a pressure here (signalling his head), powerful, never going away. I was fine when I went into the dressing room for the France game but I started to feel this powerful dizziness, overwhelmed, panicked, and they lay me on the physio’s bench. That was the first time but I had nasty episodes like that again. There’s medicine, psychological treatment to overcome the barriers you’ve erected, the fear. It started in February and it lasted until the summer. When the Euros came I decided I couldn’t go, that I had to isolate myself.​”
Bojan Krkic opens up on his anxiety attacks as a teenager that stopped him from going to UEFA EURO 2008 with Spain, speaking in an interview with The Guardian

“We’ve been in this transition period for a while and lost so many veterans who were great leaders on the field. I think it took a period of time for certain players to step up or feel comfortable stepping up into a greater role in the team. I feel good with where we are, but I still feel like we have a lot of progress to be made in terms of identifying those leadership roles and the roles on the team in general.”
USA forward Alex Morgan speaks with The Athletic about the state of the USA women’s national team

Buffon confirmed he will be leaving Juventus on Thursday after spending 17 years at the club—Juve President Andrea Agnelli had words of the highest praise for the World Cup winner

“We will not be among the teams that would make up the numbers at the World Cup, but instead be among the teams that will make it interesting because we have all it takes.”
2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup adidas Golden Ball winner Kelechi Nwakali tells Goal that Nigeria has the potential to go far at the World Cup in Russia

“I realistically saw a group growing into the World Cup 2018 that could go into a semi-final. The World Cup has nothing to do with the four years prior to that. It’s a completely new chapter. Whenever I played in a World Cup or European Championship, it gave me so much energy. I don’t know why. I could have had a poor season before that tournament, and suddenly that tournament brought me to life. Whatever happened the last couple of months before didn’t matter. We almost didn’t qualify for Italy in 1990 with Germany. We had to win our last game against Wales, and I still remember that Mark Hughes missed a 100-percent chance two minutes before the end of the game. He had a free header and he put it over the bar. If he puts that in, we’re not going to Italy. And then we won the World Cup.”
Former Germany forward and former USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann speaks with Yahoo about the nature of tournament football

“You look at it and you don’t believe it because you used to collect the stickers of so many players and, today, yours is there. You get your own and you see everyone talking about it, you see everyone wanting to get your sticker. This is crazy. It makes me so happy. Sometimes I can’t even believe it. It is simply the biggest tournament in the world of football, the most desired by every player in every country. Before, you had an idea. Now you really know what it’s like.”
Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus speaks with ESPN Brazil about having his own Panini sticker

“Liverpool have a big chance to win the Champions League against Real Madrid. I witnessed on that pitch what Salah can do to Marcelo during the Olympic Games. I was playing with Egypt against Brazil. Marcelo is terrified of Salah.I noticed the same thing in the Champions League when Roma played against Real.”
Former Egypt captain Mohamed Aboutrika​ believes his former team-mate Mohamed Salah can lead Liverpool to UEFA Champions League glory next weekend, speaking with beIN Sports MENA

“It’s difficult to explain how happy I feel after so much time, it was a dream I’ve always had since I was a child. I feel so proud to belong to this group, which has changed the lives of so many Atletico fans. Before we had to explain why we wore this shirt.”
Fernando Torres on winning the UEFA Europa League with Atletico Madrid

“We are competitors, we are going to do better than in 2014. The goal given by the Federation is to go to the semi-finals, But, five days before the final, you will try your hardest, do not calculate, do not think, and go for it.”
France striker Olivier Giroud tells SFR about Les Bleus’ ambitions for Russia 2018

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– FIFA on GBP Sports

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ is drawing ever nearer – with just 26 days to go! Between now and the start of the World Cup, we will take a closer look at a different statistic from the history of the tournament each day.

26 – The number of passes involved in the move that led to Esteban Cambiasso putting Argentina 2-0 up in their Group C match in Gelsenkirchen against Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, a game the Argentinians went on to win 6-0.

A total of 57 seconds elapsed from the moment Javier Mascherano dispossessed Mateja Kezman, knocking the ball back to Gabriel Heinze in the process, to the moment when Cambiasso fired home. That was all the time it took for Jose Pekerman’s side to show just how well they could play.

Nine players took part in one of the great moves of that particular World Cup, with only goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri and right-back Nicolas Burdisso failing to get a touch during the build-up.

“I haven’t seen anything like it in years,” Hernan Crespo, who provided the back-heeled assist from which Cambiasso scored, later said. “It was like something you see in futsal. I’ve never taken part in such a beautiful goal.”

Cambiasso had only been on the pitch for 14 minutes, having come on after 17 minutes in place of the injured Luis Gonzalez.

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Follow the FIFA eClub World Cup live – FIFA on GBP Sports will be streaming the action live this weekend as the FIFA eClub World Cup takes place at Paris’s Studio 130 on 19 and 20 May.

Featuring 16 professional eSports football teams, the eClub World Cup is a central part of the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series on the Road to the FIFA eWorld Cup, virtual football’s equivalent of the FIFA World Cup™. Local favourites Paris Saint-Germain and holders Brondby are among the clubs taking part, with each consisting of a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One player.

The draw took place on Monday 14 May, with both the local side and the reigning champions paired together in Group B.

Group A: Method, Hashtag Academy, Arte Virtual FC, FC Basel 1893, Unilad, BU E-Sports, ECV eSports, FC Schalke 04 eSports

Group B: Mkers, Team Envy, Falcons eSport, Brondby IF, Lightning Pandas, Xolos de Tijuana, VFL Bochum 1848, PSG eSports

Those 16 teams will be competing for a prize pool of USD $50,000 and, more importantly, four spots at the EA SPORTS FIFA 18 Global Series Playoffs. The event will be presented by Laura Woods and Spencer Owen, with commentary coming from Leigh Smith, Joe Miller, Richard Buckley and Brandon Smith.

You can follow it all live right here and also keep across the latest action on the FIFA eWorld Cup’s official Twitter and Facebook pages.

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Germany and Spain qualify for Uruguay 2018 – FIFA on GBP Sports

Germany and Spain are the first two European nations to win berths to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018, after both countries advanced to the UEFA Women’s U-17 Championship final in Lithuania.

Germany routed England 8-0 in the first semi-final, with Shekiera Martinez leading the way in the goals category with a hat-trick. Spain edged Finland 1-0 in the day’s other semi-final thanks to Eva Maria Navarro’s strike in the 52nd minute.

Spain are headed to their fifth-straight European final at the U-17 age category, while it will be the third consecutive final between Germany and Spain.

Germany have played in all five FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cups, with their best finish coming in the inaugural edition in 2008 when they finished in third place. Spain have qualified for three past U-17 Women’s World Cups, finishing in third place in 2010, runners-up in 2014 and in third place in 2016.

The last ticket to Uruguay 2018 available for Europe will be up for grabs when England and Finland contest the match for third place on Monday.

The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 takes place from 13 November to 1 December in the Host Cities of Colonia del Sacramento, Maldonado and Montevideo.

Joining Germany and Spain at Uruguay 2018 will be Colombia, Brazil and hosts Uruguay (CONMEBOL); Cameroon, Ghana and South Africa (CAF); Japan, Korea DPR and Korea Republic (AFC) and New Zealand (OFC).

The CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship will resume play from 6-12 June 2018 in Bradenton, Florida, USA, where three berths to Uruguay 2018 will be up for grabs.

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Strategy, progress and closer ties: the keys to the latest FIFA Forward Development Programme cycle – FIFA on GBP Sports

Following the success of the FIFA Forward Development Programme workshop in Mexico City, the Colombian capital of Bogota played host to the Americas’ second such gathering, on 24-26 April 2018.

The three-day event brought together South America’s ten member associations and had the backing of the Colombian Football Association (FCF). In attendance were also members of CONMEBOL’s Development Department, who played their part in consolidating joint strategies and the spirit of collaboration between FIFA and the confederation in their drive to develop football across the continent.

The gathering provided an opportunity to review requirements, methodologies, strategies and processes with the aim of continuing the effective, transparent and sustained development of football. The lessons learned in the current FIFA Forward Development Programme cycle were also assessed and strategic preparations for the next cycle, in 2019-2022, explored in depth.

All eyes on the future
Over the first two days, experts from the FIFA delegation and external consultants specialising in areas linked to the FIFA Forward Development Programme led discussions and gave presentations on the planning of infrastructure projects, strategic planning, technical development, refereeing and women’s football, among other key issues.

On the third and final day of the workshop the focus was on outstanding aspects relating to ongoing and future projects and on the programme-related needs, priorities and objectives of each association. The associations’ secretary generals, development directors and administrative officers also had bilateral meetings with a team from FIFA’s Member Associations Americas subdivision.

Speaking at the event, FIFA’s director of Member Associations Americas, Jair Bertoni, stressed the commitment of world football’s governing body to its member associations: “FIFA’s aim is to make its experts and resources available to its associations and to give them as much assistance as possible in every aspect needed to develop the game. And in working towards that goal, this workshop allows us to offer them more effective support, by taking their specific characteristics into account and supporting them in further defining their development needs and tailor made projects for the next Forward cycle in 2019-2022, among other things.”

For his part, Luis Guillermo Escobar, the general manager of the FCF, had this to say: “The FIFA development workshop held in Bogota was a unique opportunity to set out the FCF’s strategic approach. Drawing on everything we’ve learned, we’re going to request support from a consultant in developing a 20-year strategic plan.”

FIFA has established nine Regional Offices around the world, with one more to be opened in Addis Ababa this summer, bringing it closer to its 211 member associations.

These offices, staffed by development managers and project coordinators, are playing a crucial role in the development of world football, offering bespoke support in the successful implementation and management of the FIFA Forward Development Programme.

This approach has had a positive impact on the performance of associations, helping them to meet objectives and roll out activities and development projects that are sustainable in the long term, all as part of a strategic framework set up by the associations and guided by the principles of good governance. The result is increased transparency and integrity in the use of FIFA Forward funds.

“It’s a privilege for the Regional Office in Asunción to attend and meet with the South American associations on a regular basis. They’re all brimming with passion for football and keen to work and implement projects that will have a major impact on the development of our sport,” said Rafael Arias, development manager of the Regional Office in Asunción, the Paraguayan capital. “The Regional Offices will continue working to bring FIFA ever closer to its member associations and to provide the necessary support and assistance to ensure the success of development projects within the framework of the FIFA Forward Development Programme.”

These gatherings are crucial to the quest for excellence in the work carried out by FIFA and its member associations, and demonstrate that the development of football does not only seek to grow the sport but also to improve the lives of the people who play and live for the game.

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– FIFA on GBP Sports

  • Metatarsal fractures have consigned Neuer to the sidelines
  • Played his last Bayern game in September 2017, most recent international in November 2016
  • Now in a race against time to be fit for Russia

Manuel Neuer established himself as the embodiment of the modern goalkeeper at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. While he was by no means the first shot stopper capable of creating something with the ball at his feet and his exceptional skill was already beyond doubt to football fans across Germany, his courageous displays in South America four years ago captivated audiences around the world. He was ultimately rewarded with the World Cup Trophy and the adidas Golden Glove as the tournament’s best goalkeeper.

Although it may have escaped the notice of some fans around the globe, many in Germany have been preoccupied by the fact that Neuer has been injured for more than a year with two successive metatarsal fractures. The most recent of his four appearances this season was in mid-September, while he was last capped for his country in November 2016.

The road to recovery is proving to be a difficult one. “It’s really important that nothing happens to my foot now, otherwise it could put my career at risk,” he said back in March, before providing a further update in April: “There are still plenty of question marks. I have to be happy with my performance and be honest with myself. Can I hold my own again after such a long absence?”

The 32-year-old has since returned to training. Although there was initially speculation that he would be fit enough to return for Bayern Munich’s penultimate or last Bundesliga match, such estimates proved to be premature. The latest news from the German champions is positive ahead of the DFB Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt in Berlin on Saturday, with the club confirming on Friday that Neuer will be included in the matchday squad.

But what does all this mean for his place in the national team at Russia 2018? Although national coach Joachim Low included his captain Neuer as one of four goalkeepers when announcing his provisional squad on Tuesday, he made it clear that he would only take three of them to this summer’s World Cup finals.

“Manuel and I know the responsibility we have,” Low said. “He has already played at four major tournaments and knows what a goalkeeper needs. We will give him time and hope he will be able to come.”

© Getty Images

There is a Plan B, of course, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen now Germany’s clear number two goalkeeper behind Neuer after an impressive FIFA Confederations Cup last summer. There are certainly worse backup plans than having Barcelona’s 26-year-old starting custodian ready to step into the breach, especially as Ter Stegen shares much of Neuer’s attacking mindset and is currently one of the world’s best goalkeepers in his own right.

Despite this, Low’s assertion on Tuesday that “nobody can go to a tournament like this without game time” came as something of a surprise. Will a cup final and/or the international friendly against Austria on 2 June be enough game time for a World Cup, or is the national coach gently preparing the country for the news that Neuer will not make the plane? 

“We’re being very frank with each other,” Low said. “[After the South Tyrol training camp] we’ll talk openly and honestly about whether he can play at the World Cup or not, and make a final decision on 4 June.”

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