Underrated Ulreich: The rise of the Bayern Munich custodian

RSC Anderlecht v Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League
Sven Ulreich has been impressive in Manuel Neuer's absence

Being the deputy to Manuel Neuer, a four-time winner of the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) World's Best Goalkeeper, meant that Sven Ulreich was always going to find it hard to receive game time.

Since his move from VfB Stuttgart to FC Bayern Munich at the end of the 14/15 season, Ulreich has been named 118 times in the matchday squad but has only played in 30 games (29 starts, 1 sub). 20 of those appearances have come this season after Manuel Neuer suffered a metatarsal fracture in mid-September 2017. Because Ulreich had only played 10 games in his first two seasons (15/16 and 16/17) for Bayern, quite a few forgot that he too was a top-notch goalkeeper.

Neuer's injury has allowed Ulreich to prove himself between the sticks for Bayern this season, and after a shaky start during the game against Wolfsburg, he has impressed in his performances. In his 20 games this season, Ulreich has kept 8 clean sheets and has only conceded 18, but in the Bundesliga is where he has truly impressed; 6 clean sheets in 12 games, which is the most out of any Bundesliga goalkeeper this season, despite playing 4 fewer games than second-placed Roman Burki (Borussia Dortmund) and 5 fewer than third-placed Oliver Baumann (Hoffenheim).

Ulreich's goals conceded per 90 minutes is also the best in the league at 0.75, the next best is Lukas Hradecky (Eintracht Frankfurt) at 1.06 goals per 90 minutes (excludes players with less than 5 appearances). Clearly, he is capable of being a first-choice goalkeeper for any top-flight club, but how does he compare to Bayern's first choice, Manuel Neuer?

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Manuel Neuer kept 14 clean sheets and conceded only 13 in 26 games in the Bundesliga last season, which gives him goals conceded per 90 of 0.50; better than Ulreich's stats, but he is not far off. But with Neuer expected to be out until March 2018, Ulreich has plenty of time to improve his record. He has already impressed Bayern's manager, Jupp Heynckes, who's only praised the development Ulreich has gone through.

"Sven Ulreich has made a terrific development and I strongly recommend the FC Bayern take the contract talks to extend the contract" - Jupp Heynckes

Ulreich has shown that he is more than just a bench warmer, something most football fans had labelled him as, and has proved that he deserves more game time, even when Neuer is fully fit.

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Edited by Amit Mishra
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