Sven Ulreich is once again centre stage. Following Manuel Neuer’s foot injury, the 29-year-old will be between the sticks for Bayern Munich until at least the new year, and made an excellent return to competitive action in Tuesday’s 3-0 win at Schalke, pulling off several good saves.
After the game, Ulreich spoke about James Rodriguez’s impressive performance, facing Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani in next week’s UEFA Champions League tie in Paris and the visit of Wolfsburg on Friday…
Question: Sven Ulreich, what was it like being back in goal after such a long absence from competitive football?
Sven Ulreich: It was obviously nice to be able to play again, but really you have to feel for Manuel [Neuer]. Experiencing the same injury frustration and setback again can’t be easy and I hope he’ll be back as quickly as possible at the same level as the old Manu.
Question: Had you been in touch at all prior to the game at Schalke?
Ulreich: I messaged him to wish him all the best for the operation and he replied wishing me all the best for the game. We’re in touch a lot; we get on well.
Question: It was a successful return to the Bayern goalposts. You played well…
Ulreich: I’m happy about that. I was tested on a couple of occasions, but fortunately I managed to pull off a save here or there, which meant we were never really under pressure. I was happy enough with it for a first game, but of course I need to get back into the swing of things properly.
Question: Last time you came into the side you got better with every game. Will that be the case again?
Ulreich: That would be nice! I just want to give it my all and put in my best performances. Sometimes the games won’t go as well, but I know what I’m capable of and I know that I can fill Manu’s boots. I want to prove that. It’s important, too, that we’re successful as a team. That’s the be-all and end-all.
Question: How do you assess the team’s performance?
Ulreich: We had some good moments going forward and won the ball well. There were too many times when we lost the ball, though, and that created openings for Schalke. If you want to play a perfect game, you have to cut that out. All in all, it was a very good performance away from home with some lovely goals.
Question: And what about James Rodriguez, who played probably his best game for Bayern?
Ulreich: He hasn’t been here that long yet! It wasn’t an easy start for him with injury and that’s never easy when you come into a new club. In the last few weeks, though, he’s been able to train properly, pick up some rhythm and get to know his team-mates better. That’s always a plus. He played really well against Schalke - let’s hope it continues!
Watch: James discusses his delight after scoring his first Bayern goal
Question: Next week you’re in Paris in the Champions League against Neymar, Kylian Mbappe et cetera. How excited are you for that in particular?
Ulreich: I always look forward to a challenge. Paris have got some world-class players in their ranks, but so do we, and I train with them every day. As a sportsman, you really look forward to such challenges.
Question: Were the wins against Mainz and Schalke an upward curve, a little reminder of Bayern’s strength perhaps?
Ulreich: They were definitely steps in the right direction after the defeat at Hoffenheim, although I think we also did quite well against Anderlecht. Steps forward are one thing, but every game starts 0-0 and we always need to produce our best.
Question: Does it make a difference to your preparations when you know you’re going into the next game as number one?
Ulreich: It’s always a bit different when you know that you’re in the spotlight. You prepare yourself slightly differently, particularly en route to the stadium. For me, though, it’s just nice to be able to play after a long period on the bench. I really hope I can fill Manu’s boots well, although that’s difficult because he’s the best goalkeeper in the world. There’s not much I could do better than him, but I’ll give it my everything so that it’s a good period for us. That worked well at Schalke.
Question: You’re up against Wolfsburg on Friday. What are your thoughts going into that one?
Ulreich: It’s an important Bundesliga game and we’ll need to be at 100 per cent. We need to be completely focussed and forget about the Paris game. This is about three points in the Bundesliga and if we produce a performance as good as we did against Schalke, I’m sure we’ll come out on top. But we have to be at 100 per cent.