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Ter Stegen the hero on a night of standout Barcelona performances

El Clasico awaits!

Real Betis v FC Barcelona - Super Copa de España Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

With the carrot of a Clasico final in the Spanish Super Cup - despite the competition generally being seen as Spain’s equivalent of the Charity Shield - there was certainly motivation for Barca to make light work of a talented Betis side.

The opening 25 minutes or so saw total blaugrana dominance but with no goals to show for their endeavours.

In fact, were it not for the excellence of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, it might well have been Real Betis that took the lead.

It can’t be lost on anyone that Barca’s immaculate defensive record this season is as much to do with the German as it is the back three or four in front of him.

There was a period in Ter Stegen’s Barca career where he looked a tad shaky, and indeed, some culers even wanted him sold, but it’s fair to say that he’s approaching somewhere near his best again which is great news for Xavi.

Real Betis v FC Barcelona - Super Copa de España Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

On at least four separate occasions in the first half the custodian was equal to what Betis threw at him, two saves of which were the highest quality.

Unable to do anything about either goal scored against him, the keeper was the hero once more with his two brilliant penalty shoot-out saves.

If nothing else, it gave another timely reminder to all of just what a superb keeper Barca do have between the sticks.

On the night, there were also another two standout performances that are worth shouting about.

Real Betis v FC Barcelona - Super Copa de España Photo by Yasser Bakhsh/Getty Images

Both Ronald Araujo and Ousmane Dembele have become consistency personified for Xavi’s Barca.

In each game now, the Frenchman has looked a threat every time he has the ball. His confidence is sky high and that can be seen in his play.

Compare and contrast his season with that of Raphinha, a big-name signing from last summer who has flattered to deceive in much the same way that Dembele used to.

Dembele has also added defensive capabilities to his game, making him a huge asset for Xavi right now.

Talking of world class exponents, Is it worth asking the question as to whether Araujo is the best centre-back on the planet at present?

His recovery tackle after Jules Kounde’s elementary mistake in the first half was sensational, but no more than we’ve come to expect from the towering Uruguayan.

That he still started and played as he did, when Xavi was clearly concerned at how much he’s given to the team recently and would probably have preferred to ease him in to this one, speaks volumes.

Just like his contemporaries, Araujo is another special talent and one who is surely ready to assume the responsibility of wearing the armband.

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