Manuel Neuer will play in his 27th Der Klassiker for Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the Bayern and Germany No.1 discusses Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski and his love of beating BVB.
bundesliga.com: This weekend you will be in goal for your 27th Klassiker. Why is this clash still something special for you?
Manuel Neuer: "It's always important, mostly because we're direct rivals in terms of our position in the table. Dortmund has been our closest competitor in recent years, and it's always a special game. I come from Gelsenkirchen and I grew up at Schalke, so it's always something special for me personally to play against Dortmund. For the last 10 years at Bayern, it has always been a closely fought contest and anything can happen. It's a clash that's hyped up and you could already see in the Supercup what it means to play against Dortmund. It's always a great feeling knowing you have beaten Dortmund."
Watch: Manuel Neuer captained Bayern to victory over Dortmund in the 2020 Supercup
bundesliga.com: You have kept a clean sheet in the last three league games against Dortmund. How demanding are these 'big games'?
Neuer: "It's not as draining for me as a goalkeeper, but for a goalkeeper, it's more about psychologically having to stay fully concentrated for 90 minutes. It would be great to build on this clean sheet streak, but it won't be easy because we know that Dortmund have some great players, especially in attack."
bundesliga.com: Some have said we are currently experiencing the best Manuel Neuer of all time. The words of praise keep coming! Do you enjoy this kind of appreciation more now than when you were younger?
Neuer: "It's difficult to enjoy this kind of thing at the moment because we just have to keep going. We couldn't really enjoy much of our recent successes because we hardly had any time to breathe. We had to put these successes straight to the back of our minds and prepare ourselves for the next objectives, which is the rhythm we currently find ourselves in. We always play at the weekend and then again in midweek and then also with the national team, so it's difficult to take in any praise at the moment."
bundesliga.com: All eyes are on the battle of the goalscorers between Lewandowski and Haaland. How do you see these two players? What does Lewy have that Haaland does not have yet?
Neuer: "Lewy definitely has the experience and he has great timing and is very strong in the box. Haaland is a player that often drops deep and he plays more in straight lines because of his pace. Lewy is more two-footed than Haaland, who uses his left foot a lot. I hope he won't surprise me with his right foot!"
Watch: Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski - GAT analysis
bundesliga.com: A lot of talk before the game is also about the young, wild, and speedy players like Leroy Sane and Jadon Sancho. But how important will the old hands be such as Mats Hummels and Marco Reus on the one side, and Thomas Müller, David Alaba and you on the other?
Neuer: "It's definitely about the mix of the two. Of course, individual quality can decide a game, but the fundamental structure has to work. The more experienced players that you mentioned are important for organisation and structure and this is decisive for our stability. A player like David Alaba talks a lot on the pitch and his performance is very important for our defence, which is what can be decisive in games like these."