When will goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen be back playing for Barcelona?
Before the Copa del Rey tie against Athletic Club, the injured German issued an update on when he could return to action.
Barcelona’s form over the last few weeks hasn’t been quite as bad as has been made out, with Xavi Hernández’s side having won six of their last seven matches in all competitions. The manner of several of those victories has, though, been unconvincing, while they suffered a 4-1 Spanish Super Cup final thrashing against Real Madrid in that sequence of games. Keeping the ball out of their own net has also been a big issue, not helped by the ongoing absence of first-choice goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.
Barça’s defensive numbers with and without Ter Stegen
Since the German’s last appearance for the club against Alavés in LaLiga, the Catalans have played 14 matches (including a pre-Christmas friendly against Liga MX side Club América in Dallas), in which they have conceded 24 goals and kept only two clean sheets. While Barcelona had not been nearly as solid defensive as last season prior to ter Stegen’s absence, the 31-year-old had still managed eight shutouts in 17 appearances, in which he had let in 15 goals.
Iñaki Peña has taken over between the sticks and hasn’t done too much wrong, although there can be little doubt the Germany international is capable of making saves few other goalkeepers can, while he is also a more reassuring presence to those playing in front of him.
What injury has the goalkeeper had?
Ter Stegen hasn’t played since the 2-1 win over Alavés on 12 November, immediately after which he suffered a back injury while on international duty. Initially ruled out for “a few weeks,” he was ultimately forced to undergo surgery and have an extended spell on the sidelines.
Ter Stegen reveals injury return date
This week, however, he revealed at an awards ceremony run by Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo he was closing in on his return, a timely boost with the first leg of the Champions League Round-of-16 tie against Napoli just around the corner.
“I’m feeling good, I’m already back on the training field,” said the German. “I could be ready in two weeks.” If that is the case, Peña would play Barcelona’s next four matches before relinquishing his starting place to ter Stegen for the LaLiga game at home to Granada on 11 February, 10 days before that all-important Champions League tie.
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