Part of Manuel Neuer's charm is the sneaking feeling that he is not quite the Best Keeper In The World that most say he is (myself included). This heretical view is from time to timebacked up bu the odd coals that he adds to the furnace with what appear to be mental aberrations and general brain fartery.
The latest nugget came during the Bayern Munich's 5-1 destruction of Wolfsburg on Tuesday (22 September). Neuer tried to make an intervention in his self appointed capacity as libero which went horribly wrong. With Neuer taking the meaning of stranded to strange new places, the ball fell to Joshua Guilavogui, an otherwise admirable defensive midfielder who having spotted the keeper of the line (by several furlongs) took a punt at the goals from super long range.
The ball shaved the outside of the post. Half a foot to the right and Wolfsburg wold have entered the dressing room with a 2-0 lead at the Allianz and would have left Bayern coach Pep Guardiola with a heap of problems.
Or would it?
Whether the Bavarians were 1 or 7 goals behind, Pep would have set them up exactly the same way for the second half. That was to step up the pressing and go on the attack. Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski would still have come off the bench and would still have scored those five goals in 9 minutes even if Guilavogui had doubled Wolfsburg's lead.
Or would he?
The mindset of players is the hardest to read for anyone watching the game. No one really knows if the extra goal deficit would somehow have adjusted the player's mental approach to the second half. Burdened by the two goal lead the Champions may have been a touch more rash and undisciplined, making just enough mistakes to prevent the 9 minute blood bath that ended with Lewandowski suddenly five goals better off this season and no doubt the holder of a few new records.
We'll never know, of course, but goals change the course of games and as Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking ponders the result on the long journey home he may allow himself to wonder what might have been had the loose ball fell to Draxler rather that Guilavogui.
Spare a thought also for Wolfsburg's Dante. The defender who, up until August, was a Bayern player had a decent game for the most part. As the goals rained in no one would have blamed the Brazilian for suffering flashbacks to Bela Horizonte and his debagging at the hands of the Germans in the 2014 World Cup.
At least, for Dante, it could have been worse.
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