Former Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann hails his successor Manuel Neuer as the best at the World Cup and believes coach Joachim Low’s men can win their first World Cup in 24 years.
Bayern Munich shot-stopper, Neuer, will have to put up an impressive performance in Sunday’s final against Argentina, to beat Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas and Argentina’s Sergio Romero to the Golden Gloves prize, awarded to the best goalkeeper at the World Cup.
“He’s had a perfect World Cup so far,” Lehman told Fifa.com. “He’s without doubt the best goalkeeper there is at the moment, and I’m especially pleased about one thing he does.
“Back when I was a player I think I was one of the first keepers to play in the style he’s been so successful with today. A lot of people called me crazy when I did it, which makes it all the nicer to see that I was actually on the right track.”
The 44-year-old, who earned a total of 61 Germany caps between 1998 and 2008, became a national hero after his quarter-final exploit at the 2006 World Cup hosted on home soil. Lehmann saved two spot-kicks (Roberto Ayala’s and Esteban Cambiasso’s) against Argentina- after the game remained 1-1 in regulation time- to help ‘Die Mannschaft’ book a semi-final berth against potential winners Italy.
Going down memory lane, Lehmann wonders if there are people who “believe that was the only match I ever played”.
The former Arsenal goalkeeper believes the three-time champions’ experience will give them the edge in the final against Argentina at the Maracana.
“Germany have got greater strength in depth and we’ve got more players who play at the highest level every year,” said Lehmann.
“You only need to look at the kind of big international games the Bayern players have been involved in over the last few years. That makes a huge difference because you gain a lot of experience from those sorts of encounters.”
The retired Goalkeeper admits ‘La Albicseleste’ are an organised side with real threat up front, but concludes it will not be four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi’s day after-all.
He added: “They (Argentina) are a compact unit and are very strong at the back. It’s no coincidence that they’ve only conceded three goals throughout the whole tournament.
“They’ve also got fantastic players up front too, with Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
“He (Messi) is more than capable of deciding matches on his own, but on Sunday I don’t think he’ll have it any easier than he did in the semi-final against the Netherlands – if anything it’ll be harder for him.”