Replacing the world's best goalkeeper, when he is ruled out for months due to injury, is quite a big ask, but Bayern Munich can be rather pleased with the solution they found in Sven Ulreich.

Manuel Neuer was sidelined with a broken foot in September and when it became clear that he was going to miss the entire first half of the season, the record champions did not panic. They had no reason to either, with Ulreich waiting in the wings and ready to do what he had been bought from Stuttgart to do: ensure Neuer would not be missed when absent.

With only nine goals conceded in 12 Bundesliga outings, including six clean sheets, the 29-year-old showed that he can be relied upon when needed.

Watch: Ulreich saves Bayern in Stuttgart

"It's obvious when you're Manuel Neuer's back-up that you're only likely to get one or two games near the end of the season, but I've had quite a few in the first half of the campaign," Ulreich told Munich's Tz newspaper. "I'm really enjoying myself at Bayern and having great fun."

Ulreich, who openly expressed his hope that Neuer will be fit and well to return soon, admits that it took him time to settle into his new role as Bayern's number one, with all the pressures the job brings. However, once Jupp Heynckes took over from Carlo Ancelotti, he began to feel the confidence arriving.

Ulreich certainly made his contribution to Bayern being on course for a Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB Cup treble. © gettyimages / Matthias Hangst

"The coach said from day one that he has faith in me and that he thinks I'm a good goalkeeper," Ulreich said. "He's the kind of person who wins you over with the very first words he says to you; you like to listen to him because he knows what he's talking about.

"He talks to everybody – really everybody: all the players, the physios, the staff – everybody. And you can tell he's an expert, with his assistants. You don't see such a great combination very often."

Translation: "Successful end to 2017. Thanks for your amazing support over the past weeks and months! Merry Christmas!"

As a result, 2017 has not only been a year for Ulreich to remember, but one that Bayern can look back on with pride, and when the focus shifts to 2018, there is lots to look forward to and plenty still to play for.

"We've got to ensure we don't drop any unnecessary points now," he said. "Dortmund were five points ahead of us and they had a bad run and look where they are now, behind us. That just shows how quickly things can change, while in the cup, you need just one defeat and you're out."

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