Stefan Ortega will face Manuel Neuer and Bayern Munich for the first time in the Bundesliga. - © imago images
Stefan Ortega will face Manuel Neuer and Bayern Munich for the first time in the Bundesliga. - © imago images

Arminia Bielefeld goalkeeper Stefan Ortega: "Manuel Neuer's mind is his biggest strength"

Stefan Ortega will come up against perhaps the greatest goalkeeper of all time when Arminia Bielefeld take on Manuel Neuer's Bayern Munich on Saturday evening, but he has been making headlines of his own recently after providing a match-winning assist against Cologne.

Ortega - who came through the youth ranks at Bielefeld - has been back with the club for his second spell, having re-joined from 1860 Munich in 2017. This, however, is his first ever season in the top-flight, and it has been a dream start for the German-born shot-stopper.

Three games played, one clean sheet, one win, one draw and - of course, as you'd expect from a goalkeeper - an assist. Yes, you're reading that right, Ortega provided Joan Simun Edmundsson's only goal in the game against Cologne on Matchday 2 - a goal which gave his side their first three points in the Bundesliga for 18 years.

Watch: Bielefeld's 1-0 win over Cologne - with an assist from Ortega!

Every game in Germany's top division is a dream fulfilled for Ortega, none more so than facing the defending Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League winners Bayern at home, who have in the formidable shape of Neuer, the best 'keeper on the planet in 27-year-old Ortega's eyes.

"He's rightly the best goalkeeper in the world," Ortega told Kicker. "When it came down to it, for example, last season, he was always there. He was there in decisive moments to help what is already a very good team. Otherwise, the games would have been different. That's a huge mental strength. And that's also what is admirable.

"Of course it's something special [to play in the Bundesliga]. It's exactly what we wanted, where pretty much every opponent is an attractive one."

Stefan Ortega epitomises Arminia Bielefeld and their journey back to the Bundesliga. - Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

It’s one thing to take on the likes of Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayern, but what about toppling the top teams? Like Bayern, Bielefeld have lost just once in all competitions in 2020 - going unbeaten throughout the second half of the Bundesliga 2 season on their way to promotion before suffering defeat at Werder Bremen last time out.

Confidence is therefore still brimming in Bielefeld, and they won’t be welcoming Bayern to the SchücoArena on Saturday evening with open arms.

"We worked a lot in training and worked on where we see our chances against Bayern," Ortega said. "We watched video sequences to see how they behave, where do they press? It doesn't help to do something differently. It needs to be a routine for us to be able to get into the game well."

Watch: Neuer, the best in the business

And for Ortega himself, it’s another chance to prove what he is capable of doing on the biggest stage. Born in Calden - in the German county of Hessen to Spanish parents - Ortega has a single international call-up to his name, but was an unused substitute for Germany's U19 team in 2010.

"Of course I have my qualities, I was able to show that in the first few games," said Ortega. "My goal is always to put my stamp on the game. So that you can also see 'he can also play in the Bundesliga'."