Clean Sheet Streak: Ter Stegen’s Resurgence Boosts Barcelona

Ter Stegen / Getty Images
Ter Stegen / Getty Images

Marc ter Stegen’s remarkable return to form with Barcelona has been marked by an impressive clean sheet streak and crucial saves.

Marc ter Stegen will join the German national team’s concentration this week in his best form. It’s not just about the 403 unbeaten minutes he has in La Liga, having kept a clean sheet for four consecutive matches (4-0 against Getafe, 0-0 in Bilbao, 1-0 against Mallorca, and 0-3 against Atlético), but also about the sensations he conveys, with reflexes close to the posts and security. There are no longer any traces of the back operation that kept him out for three months between November 12th and February 11th. The last goal conceded in La Liga was scored by Iago Aspas in the 47th minute of the Celta-Barça match (1-2). The 31-year-old Barcelona goalkeeper is thus regaining confidence in time to challenge Manuel Neuer, who returns to the national team 16 months later after also recovering from a serious injury and already competing at a good level with Bayern Munich. Neuer hadn’t joined the team since the Qatar World Cup in December 2022.

During Neuer’s absence, Ter Stegen’s starting position in a major tournament was considered certain, in this case, the 2024 Euros, which Germany is hosting. However, Bild has already reported that Julian Nasgelmann has decided to maintain Neuer’s hierarchy. On Friday, when he announced the squad for the matches against France (March 23) and the Netherlands (March 26), the coach didn’t give any hints: “I will talk to them and we will decide.” He did mention that Ilkay Gündogan would retain the captain’s armband, “although Neuer’s voice will continue to be important.” In statements to DAZN about the 0-3 victory at the Metropolitano, Ter Stegen confessed, “We are very happy, it was a very complicated match, winning at the Metropolitano is very difficult, and we achieved it spectacularly.”

The goalkeeper valued his clean sheet, saying, “It’s always good not to concede, the team shows commitment, we all fight, it’s a collective achievement.”

Regarding Joao Félix, he noted, “It was a special match for him, although I didn’t see him different during the week. Today things went well for him.” Marc-André ter Stegen’s return has coincided with Barcelona’s improvement. Since the German goalkeeper was cleared to play, Barcelona hasn’t lost any of the eight matches played, and, what’s better, the average goals conceded has significantly decreased.

Out of the eight matches, Ter Stegen conceded three goals on the day of his return, against Granada, but in the following seven matches, he has only conceded three, being crucial in the results achieved by the team.

In this week’s match against Atlético Madrid, he didn’t have much work because Barcelona dominated at will, but his double save when the score was 0-1 proved decisive in halting Atlético Madrid’s momentum and allowing Barcelona to maintain control of the game until securing the victory. The 31-year-old German is in his ninth season at the Blaugrana club, and his performance has been spectacular. Since Andoni Zubizarreta identified him as the future successor to Víctor Valdés, Barcelona has found a sense of calmness in goal that has allowed them to win titles and, as is the case now, overcome challenging periods.