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

Abject opening defeat puts big pressure on champions


Incumbent champions Germany kicked-off their World Cup campaign in the worst possible fashion as a lacklustre performance from the side saw them succumb to a 1-0 defeat against opponents Mexico, whose dynamic performance saw Germany full far short of the quality they’ve delivered in past campaigns.

Now, significant questions must be asked within the set-up, if they are to turn around a campaign that is already threatening to derail.

Coming off the back of a round of World Cup warm-up matches that were far than flattering for the world champions – which included a narrow victory over lowly Saudi Arabia – the defeat is the latest in a trend of poor results for a team that look low on Continue reading

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With Neuer missing out, what more can a goalkeeper do to win the Ballon d’Or?

The Ballon d’Or ceremony took place on Monday evening, with Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo claiming the World Player of the Year. Barcelona’s Lionel was named in second place, with Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in third. While not a surprise, this was arguably the closest a goalkeeper will ever come to winning the prestigious prize in the modern game, but can a goalkeeper do any more?

Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer has had an outstanding year between the sticks for club and country (Germany). In addition to winning the 2014 World Cup – winning the Golden Glove for the tournament’s best goalkeeper – the German Bundesliga – making 15 clean sheets and conceding only 18 goals in 31 games – the 28-year-old also won the DFB-Pokal – which saw him concede just one goal in the five games.

But it’s not just his shutout abilities that sees him regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world, the former Schalke man has a unique playing style unrivalled in world football. Neuer’s starting position is considerably high off his line for a goalkeeper, and he’s more than comfortable having the ball at his feet. Often he is seen racing to the halfway line to snuff out a through ball, which allows Bayern to play a high defensive line.

Neuer’s ball-playing abilities also mean he can be trusted with their ball-retention philosophy, and he’s composed in possession, and technically proficient. Put simply, he’s the evolved goalkeeper current promising shot-stoppers aspire to be in the future. Of course he could keep more clean sheets in games and concede less goals, but that could also be said of the goalscorers that were head of him in the list.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are being lauded as the two greatest players to have ever graced the game due to their constant record breaking antics and phenomenal scoring tallies in La Liga. Neuer is regarded by many as the best in his position, and one of the best in history. His CV certainly backs that up, but unfortunately goalkeepers will never been seen in the same light as players that win matches on a weekly basis, often single-handedly.

It would take a lot of players to have average performances over the course of a year see a goalkeeper top the World Player of the Year standings, but to have Neuer come third is an incredible achievement for a position very rarely singled out for praise. Can goalkeepers do any more, however?