Schmeichel hands it to Germany

Schmeichel hands it to Germany
Manchester United goalkeeping legend Peter Schmeichel (right) signs a jersey for a fan during a signing session conducted by Sony at Orchard 313 on 31 May, 2014.

Hosts Brazil may be the bookmakers' favourites for the World Cup, but Manchester United goalkeeping great Peter Schmeichel is tipping Germany for their fourth title instead.

And one big reason why he has chosen the Germans is that they have the best goalkeeper in the world - Manuel Neuer.

"He's an incredible talent, he's done so well, there's no one who's even close to him," said Schmeichel of the Bayern Munich and Germany No. 1, who kept 15 clean sheets in 31 appearances in the Bundesliga last season.

Neuer, who was first-choice at the 2010 World Cup, has what Schmeichel looks out for in a top keeper: concentration and communication.

He added: "The understanding of the way your team plays, supporting your team at all times - Today's goalkeeper is like an outfield player. You've got to be ready to help out anyone who's in trouble."

"If they're talented enough, you can bring them into the team much earlier," he said, citing the likes of Spain's Iker Casillas and David de Gea, as well as Belgium's Thibaut Courtois, all of whom starred for top clubs in their early twenties.

The 50-year-old - who was already 28 when he signed for Man United in 1991 - was in town yesterday for Sony Mobile Singapore publicity events, during which he signed autographs for 250 fans at 313@Somerset and Bedok Mall.

The Dane, who played in the 1998 World Cup, was in a light-hearted mood, sprinkling anecdotes and witty remarks as he gave his insights on the World Cup Finals, which starts later this month, as well as his former club.

Of Germany, he said that their strength in depth is unmatched and that would be another key factor that sets them apart from other contenders, including Argentina, Italy, the Netherlands, Brazil and even defending champions Spain.

In fact, he believes that the Spaniards will struggle in Brazil, saying: "The players have looked confused and tired. It's going to be interesting to see how they will play.

"If they play like how they did two years ago (at Euro 2012), they haven't got a chance."

When the topic shifted to United, he became even more animated, especially when he spoke of their new manager Louis van Gaal, whom he believes has similar qualities and temperament as his former boss Alex Ferguson.

He said of van Gaal: "He has his own clear direction, he knows exactly what he wants, and it'll be interesting to see how that merges with Man United and the culture, traditions and history that is such a big part of who we are."

However, with the Dutchman beginning his tenure only after guiding the Netherlands at the World Cup, he believes that time is against the 62-year-old in making an instant impact in the Red Devils camp.

Schmeichel, who captained United's 1999 Treble-winning side, sided with de Gea when picking the outstanding player of a disappointing season that saw the champions plummet to seventh in the Premier League and David Moyes sacked.

However, he disagreed with former team-mate Paul Scholes, who had suggested that Wayne Rooney is past his best form.

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