The best news for Barcelona He was, once again, their goalkeeper.
“In one-on-ones he’s been amazing, he’s the leader of the pack, an important player – it’s important that the goalkeeper saves you points.”
Ter Stegen saved a lot of points for Barcelona. The German was virtually unbeatable and his impressive performances became routine. A year ago, his position might have been threatening, but now the picture could not be different.
It was his 13th clean sheet from 17 league matches – no more by a goalkeeper in Europe’s top leagues, and Newcastle‘s Nick PopeAt 12, she played 20 times Premier League. Only once has a goalkeeper scored more than 13 clean sheets from 17 league appearances in Spain – 14 of Paco Llano’s 17 with Deportivo La Coruña in 1993/94.
Against Getafe, Ter Stegen was decisive in saving two singles matches that seemed destined for the goal, and the lead was his stop from Borja Mayoral in the first half. He was the spark that kept Barcelona going in a match Xavi wants to forget.
Here’s another impressive stat: Next to Ter Stegen’s name is the value of 13.84 in Opta’s Goals Predicted vs. Metric – a way to measure the probability of a shot faced by a goalkeeper becoming a goal. Compared to that value of 13.8, he only conceded six times more. Only four teams can say they have surpassed him in La Liga this season. At the Camp Nou, he was beaten once – and that was from the penalty spot.
Look at Barcelona’s closest rivals and their amazing goalkeepers don’t come close; Real Madrid‘s Thibaut Courtois Net conceded 14 goals out of 14.78 expected goals and Atletico Madrid Jan Oblak Entry allowed 14 of 14.8.
It became clear that Barcelona’s progress in La Liga depended on their defense, whose strength exceeds that of Ter Stegen; Things have improved immeasurably since then Jules CondeAnd Ronald AraujoMarcus Christensen returns from injury Alejandro Balde He established himself as a left-back.
And indeed, you could argue that it was Ter Stegen again who paved the way for last week’s confidence-boosting Supercopa win over Real Madrid, given his penalty was saved into his own net. Real Betis saw their progression beyond the semi-finals.
This mood is not built against Getafe.
The hosts have only had 20 touches in the opposition box – only twice have they scored fewer in the league this season. They lost possession 146 times and were knocked out in 18 aerial duels – a season-high in both cases. Their tackling success rate was the second worst recorded in this campaign, at 43.75 percent.
If anything is clear from Xavi’s pre-match press conference, it is that Fati will start. It was the first time he’d completed 90 minutes in La Liga this season, which is positive given his injury record, but it would be hard to say he impressed.
His previous three matches with Barcelona have all come from the bench. Against Ceuta, he looked strong, cleverly scoring the fourth goal. Against Real Betis in the Supercopa semi-finals, he stunned the net with an important shot in extra time. Either way, he was the perfect substitute for impact, providing the energy Barcelona needed.
This season, he’s scored six goals, the same as he scored in the entire 2021-22 season – but he’s already played twice as many minutes.
His performance against Getafe was similar to his performance in the 1-1 draw with Espanyol Before the trip to Saudi Arabia. It was a flat, timid show by his standards. He didn’t touch the ball much, sending a shot very high in a rare opener for Barcelona late on.
Instead, in one of the final action of the night, it was Ter Stegen who once again had the decisive word, volleying a through ball on the edge of his box and launching another attack from Getafe. Smile. He looked relieved as he bounced the ball and signaled to his team to come onto the field.
He took his time, fired a long kick, and the referee blew the final whistle on what was a match Xavi wants to forget. Taking the three points, going forward and coming back better, will be his main message.
(Top photo: Alex Caparros/Getty Images)