Losing a final is always tough. Losing the UEFA Champions League final as a goalkeeper, in your own stadium, after a penalty shoot-out is something altogether different. FC Bayern München and Germany No1 Manuel Neuer is made of stern stuff, however, and vows to come back from that very experience at UEFA EURO 2012.
One of the best things about football is that there is almost always another opportunity just around the corner. Even a relegated side can put things right by winning promotion the next season. With that dramatic UEFA Champions League showpiece only three weeks in the past, what better opportunity for Neuer to put things right than by winning his first major tournament with Germany?
"I believe that this is a chance, especially for the Bayern players after a decent season," said the 26-year-old. "We want to seize that chance no matter what, and for me the tournament comes at just the right time. Of course things have changed for me. Before the [2010 FIFA World Cup] in South Africa it wasn't clear that I was No1. I am happy to take over responsibility and want to give my best."
Germany have evolved as a team since 2010 and are now an outfit hugely comfortable at keeping possession and putting pressure on the opposition. "Firstly, we have to say that we have more breadth in our squad then we did at the World Cup," Neuer added. "That's good for the competition within the team and you can see this in training."
No matter Germany's strength in depth, winning in Poland and Ukraine will not be easy, not least considering Joachim Löw's team have been drawn in Group B alongside Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark. "We want to win it, but we start from scratch," stressed Neuer. "We are well aware how difficult our group is. Hopefully by winning the first match some of the pressure will be taken off."
Neuer admits that some of that pressure is induced by the players themselves, even more so considering Bayern's travails towards the end of the campaign. Now the focus is on a successful opener against Portugal in Lviv on Saturday. "It was the same for us at the World Cup, when we had a good start against Australia [4-0] and it will be similar for this tournament,"added Neuer.
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