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Courtois heaps praise on key Barcelona star ahead of El Clasico: “If it wasn’t for him…”

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Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Speaking in an interview with Movistar (h/t Mundo Deportivo), Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has hailed his Barcelona counterpart Marc-Andre ter Stegen claiming that the German international has been key to the Catalans sitting atop the La Liga table.

Ter Stegen has enjoyed a marvelous campaign thus far, having managed to keep a whopping 19 clean sheets in 25 La Liga matches this term, conceding just eight times.

The former Borussia Monchengladbach ace has, time and again, put in clutch displays in goal, helping Barça build a strong lead at the top. And Courtois recognises the value that Ter Stegen has brought to the Barcelona side ahead of Sunday’s El Clasico at Camp Nou, saying:

“This year Barça have a very good defensive base and the few chances they do concede are saved by Ter Stegen. They have been winning many games 1-0 and if it wasn’t for him they would have ended in a draw. It’s to his credit that Barça are nine points clear at the top.”

When asked if Ter Stegen had shown great improvement from last season, Courtois stated that the Barcelona star had always been a top goalkeeper and that players go through rough patches.

“I don’t think he has improved at all because Ter Stegen has always been a great goalkeeper. He’s a great goalkeeper and sometimes there are bumps in your career and you’re unlucky enough to get an unlucky goal,” he said.

“He’s having a great season and he’s a great goalkeeper. Nothing has changed, it’s just that now things are going well for him and a goalkeeper with confidence grows even more. I wish him all the best, but I hope he doesn’t stop so much tomorrow.”

Highlighting the differences between the two, Courtois added: “He’s better with his footwork and I think I’m better in the air because I’m taller than him and that’s where I make a bit of a difference. But the important thing is to stop the ball and we are both very good at that.”

Courtois also spoke highly of Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski, stating that his contributions had also been vital to the Blaugrana’s ascent to the top of the table.

“He brings a lot to the team, he’s a winner since Dortmund and Bayern Munich. He scores a lot of goals and has given Barcelona a plus. He has a great eye for goal and gives them a lot to play with,” Courtois said.

“We have to try to take away their chances to score in the box. They are a great team and I hope it will be a great game.”

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