Bayern Munich claimed the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2013 with a 2-0 final victory over Raja Casablanca. Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer finished the tournament with no goals against after keeping a second straight clean sheet.
The Germany regular is the rock on which his team’s stellar success is founded. A powerful rearguard featuring the likes of Jerome Boateng, Dante and Daniel van Buyten means the keeper is often a virtual spectator, but he has the knack of springing into action on the occasions he is needed.
It happened a number of times in the final when he was called upon to make crucial saves from point-blank range, but neither Mouhssine Iajour with a precise header nor Vivien Mabide, who was suddenly clean through on goal, was able to beat the 27-year-old. "I’m there to make sure we keep clean sheets,” the player told FIFA.com after the match.
The triumph in Morocco brought an exceptional 2013 to an end for the Gelsenkirchen-born star and his team-mates. Prior to Neuer setting off for the holidays, FIFA.com asked him to assess the final, explain an unusual piece of headgear, and look ahead to the upcoming FIFA World Cup™.
FIFA.com:Manuel, how does it feel to be a FIFA club world champion?
It feels great. We’re delighted about winning it for Bayern at last. It’s the final match of the year and we’re really pleased about finishing with another win. We’ve achieved everything we could possibly achieve this year, and it’s something we’ll never forget.
What did you think of the atmosphere at the stadium?
Superb. It was good we played Raja. They attracted a huge number of people and it was close to a capacity crowd. It was a real, authentic final.
We’re hoping to go there and play winning football. It won’t be easy and the South Americans are just as much favourites.
How would you assess Raja Casablanca?
I think our early goal made it very difficult for them. We kept possession well, we played very few wayward passes, and we basically stopped them creating chances in the first half. It was very hard for them after that, but they never, ever gave up. We closed it out professionally in the second half and deserved the win.
Were you surprised about having much more to do in the second half?
I’m there to make sure we keep clean sheets. They had a couple of situations and that shouldn’t be happening, but we’ve managed to avoid conceding. Obviously it’s always even better when you win without letting in a goal.
After the trophy presentation you were seen wearing a white Moroccan hat. Where did that come from?
It belongs to a mutual friend of Rafinha’s and mine. He’s from Brazil and came here to Morocco specially as our talisman. He bought the hat in the bazaar and he threw it to me, so I put it on. But he’ll be getting it back later because it’s his souvenir.
You’ve won one World Cup trophy, so how about another one at Brazil 2014?
Obviously we’re hoping to go there and play winning football. It won’t be easy and the South Americans are just as much favourites. We’re certainly going to need a little bit of luck. But in normal circumstances, quality will see you through.