A Look at Manuel Neuer: How to Be the Perfect 'Sweeper Keeper'
What exactly is a sweeper keeper? It's when a goalkeeper goes out of his box to win the ball, almost acting like a field player, which Manuel Neuer increasingly does. Neuer stands not in his goal box at times, but almost half way up the field when his team has the ball, helping his team keep possession by acting as a sweeper.
Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has perfected the 'sweeper keeper' role over the last few years and stands alone as the sole shot-stopper that has a unique ability to venture 40 yards out of his goal and prevent an attack. While this talent makes Neuer an incredible goalkeeper on its own, his shot stopping ability rivals that of David de Gea and his footwork is on par with Joe Hart.
He's an exceptional, well-rounded goalkeeper and has played regular first team football since he was 20 years old. Nine years on, Neuer remains the world's greatest and could go on to play for at least another five years before Bayern look elsewhere. But it seems like he wants to venture out into the field of play more and more, playing like a sweeper keeper.
In terms of honours, Neuer sits above all. For club, the Bavarians shot stopper has won three consecutive Bundesliga titles, two DFB-Pokal crowns and a DFL-Supercup. Furthermore, he was part of their Champions League winning side in the 2012-13 campaign, bouncing back after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Chelsea in the final of the same competition 12 months earlier.
For Germany, he played an integral role in their European under-21 Football Championship success before impressing throughout their World Cup success in Brazil last summer. Neuer has won it all, and that is why many have suggested the German keeper could be the greatest shot stopper of all-time.
Individually, Neuer has been incredibly successful, particularly for a goalkeeper. He has been voted as 'Footballer of the Year' in Germany twice, the World's Best Goalkeeper twice and has been selected for a number of World Cup related awards, including the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team, FIFA World Cup Dream Team and he also finished third place in the 2014 FIFA Ballon d'Or awards - just desserts for his exceptional, trophy-laden season.
Looking ahead to this season, Neuer could be in for another successful year, as they are one of the leading candidates to win the Champions League in the 2015-16 campaign. In the meantime, find out how to improve your 'sweeper' skills below and you could become the next Manuel Neuer!
Neuer is a very intelligent footballer and the Bayern number one is one of the very best at reading the game. As a goalkeeper, it is crucial to be aware of any danger and the 29-year-old is one of the best at sensing trouble, particularly in club football. Bayern regularly play with a high line and can be exposed at the back, but Neuer's quick thinking and awareness helps to cover for any lapses of concentration in defence. To play the 'sweeper keeper' role, you must remain fully focused at all times.
Neuer's exceptionally quick thinking helps him to sense danger but he's also quite pacey - particularly for a goalkeeper. The German's tall frame means that he can cover ground in a matter of seconds and his physical stature can often scare approaching attackers. Given time, Neuer will begin to lose his pace and once his speed goes, he will have to adapt.
It's almost impossible to play the 'sweeper keeper' role without speed but it can still be done if you have an incredible fast brain and a world class understanding of the game. To be like Neuer though, you must have both attributes.
The Bavarians shot stopper's agility allows him to play this role and remain calm, composed and confident. Whether he needs to use his feet, chest or head, Neuer's natural footballing ability allows him to compete against the best strikers and take them on. Neuer himself revealed that he believes he could play outfield in the years to come, and it would be hard to argue with that belief. The German number one is certainly talented and is excellent on the ball, however he may need to do a little work on his positional sense - which may be his weakest flaw as a goalkeeper too.
When it goes wrong...
Manuel Neuer is not invincible. Like the rest of us, he's only human - and humans make mistakes. While playing for Schalke, Neuer made a huge error that led to Dejan Stankovic volleying home from the halfway line. Although this was a tremendous individual effort from Stankovic, the German shouldn't have presented him with the opportunity in the first place.
Luckily for Neuer, he's incredibly consistent and these instances are incredibly rare. The German has plenty of faith in his own footballing ability and won't adopt a new tactic, at least whilst he is still able to get off his line quickly and anticipate lobbed attempts over the top of the defence. For a few examples of Neuer's errors, take a quick glance at the brief video below.