Barcelona have struggled to repeat the same level of defensive solidity as they did last season, and one of the biggest reasons for the Blaugrana’s leaky defense has been the extended absence of Marc-André ter Stegen, who has missed almost three months after undergoing back surgery.
The German returned to training last week, and now the date for his comeback has been confirmed. That’s according to manager Xavi Hernández, who was asked about Ter Stegen in a press conference on Tuesday and said that if everything goes according to plan, his number one goalkeeper will be back in the squad for the La Liga clash against Granada at the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium on February 11th.
That means backup goalkeeper Iñaki Peña will be in goal for two more matches against Osasuna this Wednesday and away to Deportivo Alavés at the weekend. Peña had a strong start after Ter Stegen went down but has struggled mightily since the beginning of December, and he has been directly responsible for several goals conceded during a torrid January for the Barça backline.
Ter Stegen’s return will also give the German a couple of games to regain full match fitness before the Champions League Round of 16 against Napoli, with the first leg scheduled to take place in three weeks in Naples.