Manu is number one - Kovac has his say on Neuer-Ter Stegen feud

By Sports Desk September 19, 2019

Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovac believes competition between Manuel Neuer and Marc-Andre ter Stegen is good for both goalkeepers as the feud surrounding the two Germany internationals continues.

Germany captain Neuer took exception to Barcelona's Ter Stegen expressing frustration over being unable to dislodge the Bayern star as the national team's number one.

Speaking ahead of Barca's Champions League draw at Borussia Dortmund, Ter Stegen criticised Neuer's comments but expressed a desire to move on from the matter.

This was something Neuer echoed, only for Bayern president Uli Hoeness to wade into the debate after his club's 3-0 win over Red Star Belgrade on Wednesday.

Keen to avoid any further barbs from either side, Neuer then insisted: "I don't want to talk about it anymore."

However, Kovac predictably found himself fielding questions around the topic at a pre-match news conference for Saturday's Bundesliga match against Cologne.

"As a professional at Bayern, you always have pressure," Kovac said. "In the national team, [Neuer] saved sensationally well against Northern Ireland [in Germany's 2-0 Euro 2020 qualification win in Belfast earlier this month]. You forget that quickly.

"Both play well for their clubs, that's clear. But Manu is number one. There used to be one A and one B. And now? What can you do there?

"I do not know. I believe the pressure is beneficial for both."

RB Leipzig are the team applying the most convincing pressure to long-reigning Bundesliga kings Bayern.

Kovac's men had to settle for a 1-1 draw in eastern Germany last weekend, despite taking an early lead through Robert Lewandowski, and they are two points behind early pacesetters Leipzig.

"It's two points, we do not have to dramatise," Kovac said, pointing out Bayern hauled in a far greater deficit to Borussia Dortmund to win a seventh consecutive domestic title last time around.

"I remind you, it was nine [points to Dortmund]. We played out a draw in Leipzig. They are a team that plays for the championship.

"What haunts me is the game against Hertha Berlin [Bayern's season-opening 2-2 draw]. We should have won. These are the two points we currently lack. It's normal to take a point away from home against a championship rival."

Cologne are winless after three draws in their first four Bundesliga games and should prepare to face Joshua Kimmich, who Kovac expects to recover from a twisted ankle sustained against Red Star.

Winger Kingsley Coman (neck) and defender Lucas Hernandez (ankle) will be assessed.

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