Neuer absence lets Leno spread wings with butterfly stomach


Bernd Leno knows Germany's impressive battery of goalkeepers are playing for places behind Manuel Neuer as he prepares to stand as the world champions' last line of defence against Australia in the Confederations Cup.

Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Leno will be part of an unfamiliar line-up on Monday at Sochi's Fisht Stadium after Joachim Low chose to rest a number of his established stars for the tournament.

Neuer missed the end of Bayern Munich's latest triumphant Bundesliga campaign with a broken metatarsal and also sits out, leaving little to choose between Leno, Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp of Paris Saint-Germain.

Trapp and Ter Stegen took their turns in recent fixtures against Denmark and San Marino and now it is time for Leno to stake his claim.

"It's quite clear Manuel is number one, no doubt about it," he said at a pre-match news conference. "The battle is open after that. It's true we are the goalkeepers on a level playing field

"There is competition between us but I think that pushes us ahead.

"If something happens to Manuel, like now when he is injured, a decision is taken to select one of us and tomorrow I'll be trying it."

Despite criticism of Germany's approach to the competition in some quarters, Leno insists those players in attendance have grasped the sense of a big occasion.

"We have butterflies in our stomachs and I think that's a positive sign," said the 25-year-old. "We are really looking forward to this first match."

Leno identified familiar faces in the form of Hertha Berlin forward Mathew Leckie and former Leverkusen team-mate Robbie Kruse as prime threats for the Asian Cup holders.

"I think Australia will be playing very quickly. They have a dynamic team on the field," he added.

"They will let us have the ball and go at us on the counter-attack.

"Robbie Kruse and Mathew Leckie are really fast players who we know from the Bundesliga."