You’ve got a whole load of other stuff going on when you’re the Barcelona goalkeeper too – the club only just getting over the legacy of Victor Valdes, the need to be a player rather than just a goalkeeper, playing a part in the possession game and such.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen has cemented his place at the top table of world goalkeepers over the last 18-24 months, and is the single best all-round stopper in the world right now. Jan Oblak might be a better stopper (might!) but he doesn’t have the ability with the ball at his feet. Alisson and Ederson might be better passers, but Ter Stegen beats both of them into a cocked hat when it comes to actual…goalkeeping.
It’s not been a banner 2019 for Barcelona as a club, but MATS has stood out more than a few times.
Captaining Barcelona Against Huesca (13/04/19)
Goalkeeper-captains are a relative rarity in – and please forgive the phrase – modern football. Managers like their skippers to be running around the pitch, dictating play and mood; and besides, goalkeepers are…weird.
At a club like Barça, with leaders like Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique, it’s not easy to break into the leadership group. That’s why, when Ter Stegen was handed the armband for a league game at Huesca in April, it felt like he was being honoured.
Fittingly for a keeper-captained game, it finished 0-0.
Two Bernabeu Clean Sheets in a Week
Actually, two Bernabeu clean sheets in 72 hours – playing in the Copa del Rey on the night of Wednesday 27th February and anchoring the 3-0 win that put the Catalan side into the final (the less said about which the better) before getting right back out on the Madrid turf on the Saturday to be the centrepiece of another away win; this time 1-0.
It might be premature to say that the league win at the Bernabeu sealed the league title, that was probably the victory against Atleti in April, but…well, winning at Spanish football’s greatest fortress couldn’t have hurt.
That Game Against Dortmund
Compiling a ‘moments’ list for a goalkeeper is trickier than for, say, a striker. A keeper’s best game often comes when nobody notices them at all, snuffing out danger before it develops and being in such a good position that the extraordinary diving save becomes a simple snaffle.
Barça’s defence is dodgy as anything though, so sometimes Ter Stegen has to take some responsibility and step up – like he did in the club’s first Champions League game of the season, when they travelled to Dortmund.
The German was the only reason that Lucien Favre’s BVB didn’t absolutely run riot and open up an early lead in a hard-fought Champions League group. Saves galore. World’s best.
When you’re already on top of the world, why not add another string to your bow? Ter Stegen went the whole of the 2018/19 season without an assist on account of being a goalkeeper, but has now added two in the last three months.
The first came against Getafe in late September, a long ball – pass if you’re being generous, hoof if you’re not – over the top of the defence for Luis Suarez to slot home.
Not happy with that though, and perhaps mindful of the fact that the only thing English football fans knew about Ederson when he signed for Man City was that he once picked up an assist with a long ball that bounced on the edge of the opposition’s 18-yard box (Editor’s note: he probably wasn’t thinking about that) Ter Stegen set up Antoine Griezmann for the first goal of a 5-2 romp against Mallorca in December.
For more from Chris Deeley, follow him on Twitter at @ThatChris1209!