Ter Stegen saves Barcelona
Barcelona were without Lionel Messi against Real Sociedad so it was left to goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to provide the heroics and send his team into the final.
The Germany international put in a formidable performance to deny Real Sociedad throughout the 90 minutes and then an additional half hour of extra-time too.
Ter Stegen made six saves to deny Real Sociedad a second goal, including a stunning effort from Adnan Januzaj in extra-time.
¿Ter Stegen tiene costillas o es de látex? pic.twitter.com/fx1VmjgWta— Alejandro Arroyo (@Arroyer) January 13, 2021
The goalkeeper also came up clutch in the shootout, saving La Real’s first two efforts and giving Barcelona the platform to go on and secure a place in Sunday’s final.
Frenkie uses his head
Frenkie de Jong was another player who had an eventful match for Barca. The Dutchman scored a great header, gave away a penalty, and then missed from the spot in the shoot-out.
The Dutchman was a little unfortunate to concede the penalty from which Real Sociedad equalized in the second half and won’t be too happy with his penalty which struck the post.
Yet De Jong certainly deserves credit for his goal. It was an extraordinary effort after good work from Antoine Griezmann and Martin Braithwaite.
That’s now three for the season for De Jong who seems to be finally finding his best form on a consistent basis for Barcelona.
3 - Frenkie de Jong has scored three goals in 24 appearances for @FCBarcelona under Ronald Koeman in al competitions, one more than he netted with Ernesto Valverde (1 goal in 26 apps) and Quique Setién (1 in 16) combined. Free. pic.twitter.com/4sdthrRnYc— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 13, 2021
Turning point for Riqui Puig at Barcelona?
Of course, the winning penalty was confidently stroked home by substitute Riqui Puig, a player who wasn’t even born the last time Barcelona were involved in a penalty shootout back in 1998.
Puig made no mistake with his penalty, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way, and readily admitted after the game he had jumped at the chance to take the final spot-kick for Barcelona.
It’s been a tricky season for Puig who has continued to struggle for minutes but this was a great moment for the youngster whose beaming smile lit up the Estadio Nuevo Arcángel after the game had finally finished.
Puig also admitted afterwards that he will keep working hard to try to get minutes and is “never going to throw in the towel.” Strong words indeed from the midfielder - will his penalty heroics finally persuade Koeman to offer him more first-team minutes?
First trophy chance for Koeman
Talking of Koeman, the Barcelona boss now has a great chance to lift his first trophy as Barcelona manager on Sunday. It goes without saying the Spanish Super Cup is way down both the manager and the club’s list of priorities but it would still provide a boost ahead of the second half of the season.
Barca go on to face the winners of tonight’s clash between Real Madrid or Athletic but may have to face the final without Lionel Messi again. The captain was not risked against Real Sociedad and Koeman admitted after the match he wasn’t sure if he’d be fit.
Koeman may also have to make changes to his team for the match after a gruelling 120 minutes against La Real. Barca clearly tired as the match progressed but do have a few days now to recover, while some of the first team may get a breather next week as it’s Copa del Rey time.
Araujo back with a bang
One player who looks certain to start after a superb display against Real Sociedad is center-back Ronald Araujo. The Uruguayan was forced to miss the win over Granada with a hamstring strain but was back with a bang against Real Sociedad.
Araujo was kept busy by a lively La Real side but put in one of his best performances in a Barca shirt. It’s refreshing to see a Barca center-back with such pace, while his composure on the ball and dominance in the air highlighted a rock-solid defensive display.
Oscar Mingueza also deserves credit after another fine performance, this time at right-back after replacing Sergino Dest who had a niggle. The 21-year-old’s already made quite an impact this season but proved his versatility against La Real which is an added bonus.