Finally, after 133 days, Manuel Neuer returned to first-team football with Bayern Munich, helping the record champions to a clean sheet in a 2-0 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday. The new club captain broke his foot against Real Madrid in April, but he's now back and ready for more.
bundesliga.com caught up with the world's best goalkeeper to get his thoughts on missing the latest Germany squad, Bayern's form… and what the future holds for Thomas Müller.
Question: Manuel Neuer, how did it feel to play again after a long time out injured?
Manuel Neuer: Of course I was happy to be back on the pitch and to help the team. I think we were defensively very well organised, especially compared to the Bayer Leverkusen game [Bayern beat Die Werkself 3-1 on Matchday 1]. Last week the score could have been 6-3. Today we gave Werder no chances. This is thanks to the defence. We were much more compact.
Question: For a long time it looked as if Werder's defence would hold, but in the end Bayern's class prevailed. Nevertheless, it was difficult in the first half…
Neuer: That's true. We were too slow in the first half. We didn't get going and our runs weren't good enough. We lacked a final ball too. Bremen played very well with a five-man defence. In the second half we made them run a bit and we took full advantage thanks to the individual class of Robert Lewandowski.
Question: Is everything 100 percent alright with your foot now?
Neuer: I have to say I didn't really get to test it today! I hit one or two long balls and they felt alright. That's the thing with being out for four months. Normally you have the summer break and friendly games to get used to things, but competitive games are best because there are different situations and you have to adapt to the pace quickly.
Watch: Hear from Neuer himself about returning from injury
Question: You could have come back with the national team. Why did Joachim Löw fail to pick you for the games against the Czech Republic and Norway?
Neuer: It wasn't my decision not to play in these two Germany games. Of course, I spoke to Joachim Löw, but I don't decide whether I should play, that's his call. I would've liked to be part of it, because I would have liked to have got the match practice.
Question: You are someone who always likes to play. How did Löw explain his decision?
Neuer: He didn't want to take any risks after a four-month absence. I can understand the decision. It's logical that he and Andreas Köpke [Germany's goalkeeper coach] came to that decision. They don't want to take any risks with a World Cup to defend next summer.
Question: Maybe it's also good that you can now train intensively for two weeks in Munich with your team? There will be some Englische Wochen [the German phrase for a schedule of games with midweek fixtures] soon…
Neuer: It's almost not worth mentioning that kind of training. There will probably only be five or six players that stay behind in Munich, and of these three are goalkeepers! Of course, I still have to work on my routine and physical fitness.
Question: What did you make of Thomas Müller not playing from the start? He's been in good form…
Neuer: He's played very well lately, and coming off the bench he always brings life and tempo into the game. We have a super squad and many good players. It's always the coach who decides who plays. I personally believe that Thomas Müller will be starting a lot of the upcoming games.
Question: How do you evaluate Bayern's form after Matchday 2? Are you playing your best football yet?
Neuer: I think it's impossible for any team to be at 100 per cent yet. You can only judge a team after about ten games. Then you can guess what direction the teams are going. We're not where we want to be yet.
Alexander Barklage reporting from Bremen