Belfast Telegraph

Defiant Manuel Neuer unwilling to change his high-risk tactics

Manuel Neuer has insisted he will not change his style of play even though the Germany goalkeeper admits it risks repeating the worst foul in World Cup history.

The 1982 semi-final between France and West Germany in Spain was 57 minutes old and locked at 1-1 when Michel Platini's pass sent Patrick Battiston clear on goal.

West Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher's reaction was to launch what can only be described as a pre-meditated assault on the St-Etienne defender, flying into him studs up, elbows up, forearm raised.

The impact left Battiston in a coma with two broken teeth and damaged vertebrae. The ball slid past Schumacher's post. Because Seville police had banned the Red Cross from the touchline at the Ramon Pizjuan Stadium, it took three minutes for help to reach the pitch. Platini thought Battiston was dead.

At no time did Schumacher go over to apologise, claiming, probably with reason, that he feared for his safety if he came too close to the France players.

Later, his only act of contrition was to say: "There is no sympathy among professionals but I will pay for the crowns on Battiston's teeth."

This is a very different Germany team but they have a similarly agile goalkeeper and Neuer is aware his tactic of dashing out to act as an emergency sweeper, so effective in Brazil to date, puts him at risk of a similar incident.

"You certainly can't rule it out," he said. "That was a brutal scene and I hope something like that never happens to me. When I come out of my area, I rely on timing so I don't do any harm to my opponent.

"Coming out of my area is the way I play and I am not going to change but I know that, whenever I do it, I run the risk of a red card."

Astonishingly, a red card was the one thing Schumacher did not receive. The only decision made by the Dutch referee, Charles Corver, was to award West Germany a goal-kick.

The match staggered on into extra-time, where France scored twice more to lead 3-1 with 22 minutes remaining. That is when Les Bleus midfielder Alain Giresse says he always stops the tape of the match. The Germans fought back to 3-3.

For the first time a World Cup match was decided by a penalty shoot-out and not for the first time the Germans won it. "We have been eliminated brutally, you might almost say scientifically," said the France coach, Michel Hidalgo.

By arranging a result with Austria designed to eliminate Algeria, Germany had cheated their way to the knockout stages and had now brutalised their way into the final.

Italy's victory in Madrid, inspired by Paolo Rossi who had just returned from a betting ban, seemed the purest form of distilled justice.

Belfast Telegraph


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