Ter Stegen: Barcelona’s €12m bargain

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The term ‘safe hands’ is often coined for goalkeepers, but rarely has it been so justified than in Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s case.

The German, who firmly established himself as Barcelona’s No.1 after seeing off competition from Claudio Bravo, has proved to be one of the Catalans most astute signings of the last few seasons.

That’s because there isn’t a week that goes by without the custodian playing the fullest part in Barcelona’s victories. Continue reading

What’s gone wrong with ter Stegen?

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When Victor Valdes left Barcelona, there was genuine concern that the Catalans were never going to find anyone as good as he, and for a season or so it looked like those concerns were justified with Claudio Bravo never really winning the critics over.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen had appeared sporadically in the cup competitions but hadn’t convinced either.

Eventually, after a stuttering start and a few harsh lessons learned, the German began to come into his own. Continue reading

The life of a goalkeeper – top stoppers and fumbling failures

Being a goalkeeper can be a thankless task. Whereas an outfield player can make mistake after mistake without real punishment, one error from a goalkeeper can leave their team trailing and fingers of blame pointed in his direction. But the other side of the coin brings praise, plaudits and points, with goalkeepers often times responsible for keeping their team in the game.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than EuroFantasyLeague.com. Of the 10 highest-scoring players in the game, six of them are goalkeepers – Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo, Lille’s Vincent Enyeama, Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon, Montpellier’s Geoffrey Jourden, Koln’s Timo Horn and Paris Saint-Germain’s Salvatore Sirigu.

By contrast, of the 10 lowest-scoring players, seven of them are goalkeepers – Werder Bremen’s Raphael Wolf, Parma’s Antonio Mirante, Stade de Reims’ Kossi Agassa, Deportivo La Coruna’s German Lux, Everton’s Tim Howard, Espanyol’s Kiko Casilla and Elche’s Przemyslaw Tyton. It’s a fine line between success and failure when you’re the last line of defence.

All of the lowest-scoring goalkeepers have delivered minus points, reaching as far as -80 for Wolf, with his 13 goals conceded. Bravo, meanwhile, shows how valuable a goalkeeper can be. The Chile international has yet to concede a goal for Barca and has helped the Catalans to top of the table with five clean sheets in as many games.

Bravo has in fact been as valuable to Barca as Cristiano Ronaldo has been to Real Madrid. They’ve both scored 200 EFL points, Ronaldo’s coming largely through his nine goals in four games, despite Los Blancos making something of a stuttering start to the season.

Indeed, Madrid have scored 18 league goals to Barca’s 11 but in conceding nine in reply, have a lot less to show for it. Four league points separate the teams and its Bravo who has made the difference.