Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been the subject of vicious criticism in Spain following two high profile mistakes in Barcelona’s shock 4-3 defeat to Celta Vigo. But the German stopper insists he won’t alter his style.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen has insisted he will not change his goalkeeping style despite two high-profile blunders in Barcelona’s 4-3 defeat to Celta Vigo in La Liga this weekend.
The Germany international was the subject of vicious criticism in Spain after his howlers contributed directly to the first and fourth goals in the Catalans‘ shock defeat – but Barcelona still want to extend his contract until 2021.
First the 24-year-old stopper played a sloppy pass out to midfielder Sergio Busquets, allowing Celta to break quickly and take a surprise lead in the 22nd minute through Pione Sisto.
The German could do little about the next two goals as an Iago Aspas strike and a Jeremy Mathieu own goal saw the hosts race out to a 3-0 lead at half time before a Gerard Piqué header and a Neymar penalty reduced the deficit in the second half.
But ter Stegen’s second gaffe took much of the momentum out of Barca’s attempted comeback. When Jordi Alba played the ball back to him in the 77th minute, ter Stegen hesistated for far too long in his six yard box before attempting a chipped pass over the onrushing Pablo Hernandez.
The ball richoched off the Argentinian forward and into the back of the net to put the match beyond the previously resurgent Barcelona and unleash a tidal wave of criticism in the Spanish media.
The reaction in Spain
“Ter Stegen thinks he’s Garrincha but he’s not!” raged Spanish TV commentator Michael Robinson with a reference to the legendary Brazilian winger. “He’s not half as good as he thinks he is and it’s a serious problem.”
Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia opted for a more modern comparison, saying: “The German thought for a second that he was [Lionel] Messi!”
Meanwhile, pro-Real Madrid publication Marca basked in ter Stegen’s misfortune, joking: “Someone needs to tell him that he’s not a midfield playmaker!”
After swapping Germany’s Rhineland for Catalonia in 2014, ter Stegen spent much of his first two seasons as Barcelona’s La Liga number two behind Claudio Bravo, though the German often featured in the Champions League. But following Bravo’s move to join former manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City this summer, the Mönchengladach-born keeper has inherited the no 1 jersey and set a La Liga record for the number of passes completed by a goalkeeper against Athletic Bilbao.
“We know that Marc is very good with his feet,” said center-back Gerard Piqué – also known for his cultured, ball-playing style. “He gives us lots of options and many of our best moves start with him.”
Midfielder Andrés Iniesta, making his 600th appearance for the club, added understandingly: “These things happen but with goalkeepers it’s nearly always disastrous. But that’s football.”
Ter Stegen himself apologized for his error but insisted he would not change his style of play. “It was my mistake and it should not have happened,” he said. “I’m very sorry for the team but I won’t change my game.”
It isn’t the first time ter Stegen has come under scrutiny. Early in his international career, in 2013, he made a spectacular error in an international friendly against the USA, allowing Benedikt Höwedes’ backpass to roll under his foot and in to an empty net. In fact, in his first three games for the national team, Germany conceded 12 goals and failed to pick up a win.
Along with his compatriot Manuel Neuer, ter Stegen belongs to a new generation of sweeper keepers who enjoy having the ball at their feet and can set up attacks with penetrating passes from the back. The tactic effectively gives the team an extra man but the goalkeeper risks giving away possession in a dangerous area.
On Friday, German national team manager Joachim Löw selected ter Stegen as his third choice goalkeeper behind Bayern Munich’s Neuer and Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen) when he named his squad for the upcoming world cup qualifiers versus the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland.
With Cologne’s Timo Horn impressing in Germany’s Olympic siver medal.-winning team and pulling off a stunning reflex save to earn his side a point versus Bayern Munich at the weekend, ter Stegen can’t afford any more Spanish dramas.