Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller, two stalwarts of Germany’s national team over the last decade, are fighting to show their fitness with only three weeks till the World Cup kicks off.
In a news conference on Friday, Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann revealed that neither player will be fit to play in Saturday’s Bundesliga match against Mainz.
Goalkeeper Neuer is still out with a shoulder injury, while offensive midfielder Muller is out with a hip injury, and Nagelsmann could not tell when both will be available for club play.
The news will undoubtedly concern Germany coach Hansi Flick, who is finalizing his plans for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Muller came on as a substitute in Bayern’s 3-0 triumph over Barcelona on Wednesday, but the 33-year-old will not be risked against Mainz and will almost probably miss the Champions League match against Inter next Tuesday.
Nagelsmann’s comment on Muller’s fitness
“He has irritation in his hip again, in the pelvic area,” Nagelsmann said. “He won’t be able to play, probably not even on Tuesday. We’ll probably have to take him out for a week to give him a break.
“Thomas is in good spirits. We talked to a couple of medical professionals yesterday and tried to get a better picture of everything, but the picture didn’t really change.
“It’s not something that goes away with pain medication either. It feels blocked, and it’s difficult to define how the pain is manifesting itself. I decided it would be better just to take him out of action for the time being.
“[Saturday] is the type of game where even for 10 or 15 minutes you have to give absolutely everything, so if we give him that 10 or 15 minutes, he’s ultimately going to have to drop out potentially for the next game. We’ve got to see how it develops and how it reacts.
“The key right now is instead of blindly testing it out constantly, to give it a bit of calm and see how it reacts to that and then see how his recovery goes.”
Neuer, Bayern Munich and Germany’s captain, has not played since Bayern’s 2-2 draw with Borussia Dortmund on October 8.
Nagelsmann recognizes that keeping Neuer fit is not only a priority for Bayern, but also a matter of national interest.
There are no guarantees at this time, but Nagelsmann hopes Neuer will be able to return next weekend against Hertha Berlin.
Nagelsmann on Neuer’s fitness
“I’m not a mystic that can see into the future,” Nagelsmann said. “We put him in the game against Dortmund and maybe that was a game too early, and now he’s sat out a couple of games.
“It’s very difficult for me to know how the pain will be managed. It’s a structural area of the body that needs time to heal and a joint that needs a bit of calm as well, so if you’re constantly testing it and putting a burden on it, it can be tough.
“I’m anticipating he will be ready for the World Cup, but I’m not a psychic. We’re going to do everything we can to help him be there for the World Cup.”
Bayern’s Next Fixture
On Saturday, Bayern will play a Mainz squad that led at the Allianz Arena last season before losing 2-1.
Mainz, on the other hand, has beaten Bayern twice in the last two seasons, both times at home.
Only Augsburg has grabbed six points from their last three encounters against Bayern – no other team has managed more.
Both Bayern and Mainz have won their past two games, scoring seven goals and allowing none – a league high for this time of year.
Mainz also leads the away form table this season, with 12 points from six away games, indicating that they are a threat.
Despite this, Bayern enters the weekend just one point behind early leaders Union Berlin, who must wait until Sunday to face Borussia Monchengladbach.
“We’re in a good rhythm right now,” said Nagelsmann. “Against Barcelona, we looked like a solid unit who all had the same goal in mind. The team have a great connection with one another.”