Marc-Andre ter Stegen is set to make a very welcome return in goal for Barcelona at the weekend after a fairly lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The Germany international hasn’t played since the 2-1 win over Alaves on November 12, due to a back injury, missing Barcelona’s last 17 games in all competitions.
Ter Stegen has been seriously missed too even though Inaki Pena has done his best between the sticks in his absence.
Barcelona’s No. 1 conceded just 15 goals in 17 games played before he was forced out, while Pena has conceded 32 in the same number of fixtures.
Of course it’s been no huge surprise to see Xavi’s side look far more fragile defensively without Ter Stegen between the posts.
The German’s authority, leadership and experience has been sorely missed, even though he has been supporting from the sidelines, and it will be a huge boost to have him back in the starting XI.
Important win!— Marc ter Stegen (@mterstegen1) January 31, 2024
Congratulations Victor Roque on your first goal pic.twitter.com/Ymc7BGB623
There have been other problems too which have contributed to Barca’s defensive issues, not least the loss of Gavi and the midfield’s struggles to help out defensively.
Injuries to Alejandro Balde, Joao Cancelo, Andreas Christensen, Inigo Martinez and Ronald Araujo have also contributed and ensured Barca’s defense has failed to match last season’s heroics.
The injury situation has also allowed 16-year-old Pau Cubarsi the chance to make the breakthrough into the first team and Xavi to trial using Christensen as a midfield pivot.
The Dane has been tipped to continue in midfield next time out against Granada, but there’s no doubt Barcelona will feel far more secure with Ter Stegen back in goal.