World champions Germany ready to usher in Neuer era in Norway
- Germany start World Cup title defence against Norway.
- Neuer's first game since being named permanent captain.
- Löw targets winning start in Oslo.
FC Bayern München goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will lead Germany out for the first time since being named permanent captain when the Die Mannschaft begin their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign against Norway in Oslo on Sunday (kick-off: 20:45CEST/18:45GMT).The 30-year-old picks up the baton from Bastian Schweinteiger and is the first German shot-stopper to wear the captain's armband since the legendary Oliver Kahn.
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'We're on the right path'"Philipp Lahm did a great job as captain and [Bastian] Schweinsteiger as well. Now I hope to follow in their footsteps," Neuer said following Schweinteiger's international swan-song in the 2-0 friendly win over Finland on Wednesday. "I think that we are on the right path as a team. We always had a strong team council where I had an important role. [...] I'm now 30 years old and goalkeepers usually can play longer, but I have to listen to my body and not be too ambitious."
Since being handed his Germany debut in 2009, Neuer has gone on to make a further 70 senior international appearances, captaining the side on 14 occasions - predominantly in Schweinsteiger's stead. In that time, he has won four Bundesliga titles, the UEFA Champions League and three DFB Cups at club level with Bayern, while his pioneering displays as a 'sweeper-keeper' at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil helped Germany to their fourth world title.
Watch: Neuer on facing former club FC Schalke 04 on Bundesliga Matchday 2:
'We're here to win'Neuer's first task in his new role as permanent skipper is to ensure the defending world champions successfully negotiate 2018 World Cup qualifying UEFA Group C, with a Norway side boasting Hertha Berlin duo Rune Jarstein and Per Skjelbred and FC Ingolstadt 04 custodian Orjan Nyland the first of ten obstacles on the road to Russia.
"I don't want to see such a patchy qualifying campaign like we had for [UEFA EURO 2016]," explained Germany head coach Joachim Löw at his pre-match press conference. "So it's really important we are focussed and come away from Oslo with three points [...] We've got new players on board who I'm not frightened to make use of. Norway are a better side than Finland, but we're here to win."
Watch: With goals like these, Neuer will have to be on his guard against Norway:
- Germany have never lost a World Cup qualifier away from home (W31, D10), have only lost two of their 84 qualifiers and are unbeaten in their last 23 World Cup qualifiers (W18, D5).
- The match will be Löw's 139th game as Germany head coach.
- Germany's record against Norway reads: W13, D5, L2.
- Die Mannschaft are unbeaten on Norwegian soil (W7, D3).
Possible line-upsNorway: Nyland - Svensson, Hovland, Nordtveit, Aleesami - Johansen, Selnaes - Skjelbred (c), Eikrem, Henriksen - King
Coach: Per-Mathias Hogmo
Germany: Neuer (c) - Kimmich, Mustafi, Hummels, Hector - Khedira, Kroos - Bellarabi, Özil, Brandt - Müller
Coach: Joachim Löw