Borussia Mönchengladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer (l.) is chasing a fourth career win against Bayern Munich - © gettyimages / Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty Images
Borussia Mönchengladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer (l.) is chasing a fourth career win against Bayern Munich - © gettyimages / Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty Images
Bundesliga

Yann Sommer: Federer's friend ready to serve up shut-out against Bayern Munich

There's more than a hint of Roger Federer about Borussia Mönchengladbach and Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer, whose cool composure and sure reflexes have made him the undisputed No.1 for club and country.

Sommer began his career with hometown club FC Basel, coming through the youth ranks before being sent out on loan to second-tier FC Vaduz in the summer of 2007. In his first full season, the promising young keeper helped Vaduz secure a historic promotion to the Super League: on 12 May 2008, they became the first ever team from Liechtenstein to reach the Swiss top flight.

Following another successful loan spell with Grasshopper Club Zürich in 2009/10 - 11 clean sheets in 33 league games, plus the best defensive record in the Super League - Sommer finally established himself as Basel's first-choice keeper in 2011/12, keeping 13 clean sheets as his side were crowned Swiss champions for the third straight season.

Watch: Yann Sommer: Gladbach's Swiss shot-stoppper supreme!

It was back in his Basel days that Sommer first crossed paths with tennis legend Federer, who was born in the city and remains an avid FCB supporter. The 19-time Grand Slam champion - whose parents still live in Basel - has even been known to pop into the dressing rooms to congratulate the team after a victory.

"We always seemed to end up bumping into each other, whether it was at the stadium, in the changing rooms, or when he was practising with Marco Chiudinelli, another tennis player from Basel," Sommer recently confided to bundesliga.com. "We're from the same city and we've developed a good relationship. We Swiss are really proud of him, and what he does for our country. He may be a global star with unbelievable quality - but he's still very down-to-earth, a really friendly guy."

While he still has some way to go to match Federer's trophy collection, Sommer continued to rack up silverware with Basel, adding further Super League titles in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014, and the Swiss Cup in 2012.

- © gettyimages / Jamie McDonald

Gladbach made a topsy-turvy start to 2015/16, kicking off with five consecutive defeats followed by six straight wins, before going on to finish fourth and once again qualify for the Champions League. A more difficult campaign followed in 2016/17, with the club finishing down in ninth place, although Sommer - who played every minute of every game - still managed 10 clean sheets.

At 28, the Swiss stopper has matured into one of the Foals' leaders, and he is now determined to get them back on track. Though 2017/18 has been another up-and-down season - with fine wins over the likes of Hertha Berlin, Hoffenheim and Hannover, but heavy defeats to Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund - Dieter Hecking's men find themselves flying high in fourth after 12 games.

"I think it’s gone well so far, even if we've been a bit inconsistent," Sommer admitted. "We have to make sure there is unity between the young players and those with more experience. It's important that the senior squad members - myself included - take on plenty of responsibility and watch out for the younger lads."

- © imago / Ulmer

Sommer will certainly have a chance to impress in Gladbach's next outing - a mouth-watering clash at home to record champions Bayern, in what is characterised as a kind of 'throwback' Klassiker - the two clubs dominated German football in the late 1960s and 1970s, sharing nine consecutive Bundesliga titles between 1968/69 and 1976/77.

While Sommer had a rather unhappy Champions League record with Basel against Bayern - one win and three losses, including that 7-0 demolition in March 2012 - things have been much more balanced since he moved to Gladbach: two wins, two draws and two defeats in the Bundesliga, with two clean sheets thrown in for good measure.

Bayern's star striker Robert Lewandowski, on the other hand, has only netted once in 11 league meetings with the Foals, back in his Dortmund days. While Jupp Heynckes' resurgent Bayern juggernaut will take some derailing, Gladbach have been known to cause them problems in the past - and victory at Borussia-Park would keep the self-styled 'German Team' firmly in the hunt for a return to European football.

Watch: Previous meeting: Gladbach 0-1 Bayern

"It’s always nice to be near the top, but right now our focus is bringing consistency to our game," Sommer said. "The most important thing is that we play well week in, week out - and avoid any more meltdowns like the one we had against Leverkusen. We can't let that happen again. Our current goal difference speaks volumes, so we have to do something to improve it."

Indeed, despite being fourth, Gladbach's goal difference is currently zero - 21 for and 21 against in 12 games. Admittedly, Hecking's side shipped 11 of those goals against Leverkusen (1-5) and Dortmund (1-6) - Sommer was absent from the latter game with a knee injury - but the Foals will have to tighten up if they want to keep fighting at the business end of the table.

Next summer, meanwhile, Sommer will have a chance to represent Switzerland at the biggest table of them all, after a Bundesliga-inspired Nati side successfully secured their place at a fourth straight World Cup earlier this month. Following a superb qualifying campaign - which saw them lead European champions Portugal until their final group outing - it was only fitting to see the Swiss come through their play-off encounter with Northern Ireland and book their spot in Russia.

- © gettyimages / Jean Catuffe