The German goalkeeper recovers the prestige lost last year with decisive actions that keep the Barça team at the top of the table
An exhibition by Marc-André ter Stegen under the sticks prevented Celta from drawing at the Camp Nou and Barcelona from taking the win (1-0) with a goal from Pedri and retaining the lead in the League. The German goalkeeper thus showed that he has returned to his best times, after discussing months ago his continuity this season at the Barça club and even becoming a candidate to be part of the transferable players in the summer. But he himself decided to put an end to doubts and recover his prestige, to astonish again with fantasy stops and displaying impossible reflexes.
First, he took an important step by having surgery on the patellar tendon of his right knee in May to strengthen that joint and gain physical security. Secondly, he gave up four games for the German national team in the Nations League because he admitted that “I need to rest”. In this way he was looking for the serenity that he did not enjoy due to injuries and many years without vacations. The result of such measures was already evident in the match against Rayo Vallecano that opened the season, in which the German saved Barça from a defeat by aborting very clear chances for the Madrid team (0-0). He shone again in the match against Real Sociedad (1-4), especially in the duels with the forwards, one of the great virtues of the azulgrana.
But his performance against Celta last Sunday has confirmed that Xavi Hernández once again has one of the best in the world in goal. Ter Stegen’s second half unhinged the sky-blues, who were far superior against a very fragile Barça in their area. Two consecutive saves, one after a rebound from a defender and the other after a point-blank shot by Óscar, inaugurated the festival of the German that they will remember for a long time at the Camp Nou. Five minutes earlier, in the 50th minute, it was feared that Ter Stegen would have to retire due to a heavy blow to the back, but, as he did in the summer, he was able to recover and defended his team numerous times in the face of constant harassment from Celta. In the 69th minute he deflected a hard shot from Veiga, who was offside, and in the 83rd he frustrated the Galician team’s clearest chance, a shot by Iago Aspas that the German international prevented from turning into a goal with his leg stretched out And he had time to send a shot by Carles Pérez over the crossbar, although the previous action was invalidated by the referee.
Just one goal conceded
Ter Stegen has only conceded one goal in the eight league games played so far, the one received at Anoeta. The statistics indicate that during this period he has made 20 stops, which is equivalent to 2.50 per game. He is the tenth goalkeeper in the championship with the most interventions, when it is assumed that in a block of the quality of Barcelona, his last man should have less work and, above all, that he should not act as a lifeguard so many times. But the azulgrana team tends to be careless in defense and leaves too many spaces behind them, which rivals take advantage of to stand in front of Ter Stegen. That’s when this 30-year-old wonder uses his resources. He closes his door gaps and fire lanes for attackers, uses all four limbs like a cat, and has an instant response to the opponent’s finishing moves. A cat that under the crossbar looks as bulky as an elephant.
Perhaps because he was a striker when he was a child at Borussia from his native Monchengladbach, the culé goalkeeper is a prodigy dominating the ball with both feet. He becomes the first creator, finds solutions in the exit of the ball and can create offensive chances with his long and measured deliveries. In the League he accumulates 221 good passes (27.6 per game). He is often blamed for being a risk taker, but he is part of the spectacle of a unique footballer.