First things first.
Given the line-up that Ernesto Valverde was forced to use because of Jordi Alba’s suspension and Arthur’s injury, not to mention Lionel Messi still not being at 100 per cent, that’s a decent point won at San Mames.
We need to move the narrative away from the fact that Athletic are one of the clubs we routinely beat year on year.
Bilbao is a tough place to go and get a result with a full strength squad, let alone one that is depleted and tired mentally and physically because of a demanding set of fixtures.
Ter Stegen: "It's a game we have to analyze, but now it's not the time. Now we have to recover and, then, value what we failed and see what things we have to improve on."— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) February 10, 2019
Ernesto Valverde could’ve rotated more its true - why buy Kevin-Prince Boateng if you’re not going to use him and give Luis Suarez a rest in the process (?) - but, for whatever reason, he hasn’t.
And at six points ahead in La Liga, a winnable Champions League tie to come and still in with a chance to win a fifth successive Copa del Rey, at this point one can’t really argue against the coach.
If things go pear shaped later on, then that would be the time to address those issues.
In the meantime, let’s all doff our caps once again to Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Marc-André Ter Stegen's last 34 shots on target faced in LaLiga:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 10, 2019
⚽️ ⚽️ ⚽️⚽️
Keeping Barcelona top. pic.twitter.com/2GAOGOEkof
We cules always talk about Messidependence, but Ter Stegen is just as important to the team, perhaps more so on occasions, and that’s often overlooked.
Against Athletic, we saw two genuinely world class saves from the German. The tip over the bar with his wrong hand in the first half and the point blank one-hander from Inaki Williams in the second.
If David De Gea, Alisson Becker or Jan Oblak had made either one of those, planet football would be falling over itself to crown those custodians as the world’s best.
It is a bird, it's a plane, it's Marc Andre Ter Stegen pic.twitter.com/hHl1hpdHxp— beej (@FCBeej) February 10, 2019
Ter Stegen has to be part of that particular conversation and, in my opinion, is better that all three of his contemporaries (forgive the bias!) in certain aspects of his trade.
That Barca were able to secure him for a paltry €12 million is daylight robbery! Not that any of us are complaining of course.
A large number of supporters will be reviewing the match this morning and will, no doubt, see it as another two points dropped. Real Madrid’s form and momentum will be other reasons to send them into meltdown.
How Ter Stegen has not replaced Neuer as Germany’s No.1 yet, is beyond me...— David Kappel (@kappilinho) February 10, 2019
But, remember this. We’ve only let in more than one goal on 10 occasions in all competitions this season. Of those games, in all but four we got at least a point, and two of those were Copa del Rey first legs that were turned around.
Maybe we can do better defensively, but that’s not a reflection on Ter Stegen.
Not only would we have to suffer an almighty collapse to not end up with any silverware this season, but the German would need to endure three months of the sort of poor form we’ve never seen from him for more than a game or two in a season.
We remain in safe hands.