Their availability for Bayern’s return match following the international break against Bayer 04 Leverkusen is uncertain.
Bayern Munich and the German men’s national team both took a significant hit this week with the news that two of their stars, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and midfielder Leon Goretzka, have been diagnosed with COVID-19. It’s a stark reminder of the pandemic’s ongoing presence, as well as the ongoing and serious threat of transmission posed by the currently dominant BA.5 variant.
The players have been ruled out of Germany’s Nations League games this week — two of the final warm-ups before the 2022 Men’s World Cup in Qatar — and their availability for Bayern’s season-opening match against Bayer 04 Leverkusen next Friday is also in doubt. According to Bild, as reported by @iMiaSanMia, Manuel Neuer and Leon Goretzka are expected to remain in Germany until Tuesday. As of now, it’s unclear whether they’ll be available against Leverkusen on Friday, and whether it makes medical sense to play 9 days after the infection.
Bayern doctors have a track record of being cautious and prudent even in the face of competitive needs, most notably by keeping Alphonso Davies out for an extended period last season after scans revealed inflammation in his heart muscle following his bout with COVID-19. To quote from our original article:
Prof. Dr. Thomas Meinertz, a cardiologist and pharmacologist based in Hamburg, told Bild, “You have to take a four-week break from heavy training or competitive games.” The patient must then be re-examined. He should resume training only on the advice of a doctor.” He reiterated that the heart will heal itself of myocarditis in 90% of cases.
Germany’s most recent COVID-19 recovery experience involved Lea Schüller, the star Bayern striker and Germany’s footballer of the year. She tested positive on July 11th, just before the Spain match, did not make the matchday roster against Finland on July 16th, and was an unused substitute on July 21st (vs Austria) and July 27th (vs France) before returning for the Final vs England on July 31st — and even then as a last-minute replacement for the venerable Alexandra Popp, who was injured in warm-ups.
Neuer and Goretzka tested positive on September 21st; the game against Leverkusen is on September 30th. A Champions League match against Viktoria Plze is scheduled for October 4th, followed by Der Klassiker and a trip to Borussia Dortmund on October 8th — a span of only 16 days. But, no matter what the schedule says, health and safety always come first!
If Goretzka is called upon, Marcel Sabitzer or Ryan Gravenberch should be ready to step in, and backup keeper Sven Ulreich could be in line for his first Bundesliga minutes of the season.
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