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Inaki Pena speaks after heroic display in Barcelona 1-0 Atletico Madrid: “Ter Stegen is the best in the world”



Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

A 1-0 win over Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid propelled Xavi’s Barcelona to a famous win on matchday 15 of La Liga EA Sports.

The result helped the Blaugranas leapfrog Los Rojiblancos to third place on the standings and thus, within four points of leaders Girona and Real Madrid.

Joao Felix and Frenkie de Jong stole the headlines as Barcelona’s best players on the night. Yet, Inaki Pena was also one of the candidates who enjoyed a night to remember as he stepped up to the occasion once more.

The La Masia graduate was sensational in goal for the Catalans and cemented his place in the lineup with Marc-Andre Ter Stegen injured.

Speaking to the media after the clash (h/t FCB World), however, he revealed his deep respect for the German shot-stopper, saying:

“For me, Ter Stegen is the best goalkeeper in the world for the last 4-5 years, and I am trying to learn from him.”

Pena also went on to reveal how difficult it was for him to suddenly don the gloves as a regular after years of sitting idle on the bench week in and week out.

“The truth is that I work a lot when I am not playing, and unfortunately due to Stegen’s injury I had to go out to compete from 0 to 100 within days.”

“I try to be as prepared as possible because we are in a club that plays for their life every two or three days and we have to be prepared,” he added on his high-quality performances despite the sudden call-up.

The youngster was then questioned whether the current window of opportunity forced him to fight for his life, for it was his first chance after a long hiatus. Pena did away with any such ideas with a mature reply.

“Not in the literal sense, but for example today, if we had not won, the league would have become difficult,” he said.

Pena stepping up in Ter Stegen’s absence. (Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)

The 24-year-old did not have a whole lot of work in the first period when his side stayed on the front foot. His biggest moment in the game arrived after the break when he did exceedingly well to deny Memphis Depay’s free-kick.

“Yes, the truth is, my teammates helped me a lot when I wasn’t playing. We have a great group. We are a family and this shows on the field,” he said when asked about the support from his teammates after the critical save.

The La Masia graduate continued to stay rooted to the ground during his interview as he praised his teammates for the strong defensive display against Atletico Madrid.

“Our team was very good defensively and recovered the ball a lot in the midfield thanks to Gundogan, Frenkie, and Pedri, and their first shot was in the 83rd minute, and I think this explains their offensive inability.”

Finally, Pena opened up about his feelings over being the second-choice goalkeeper at the club year after year. Surprisingly, there was no element of regret in his statement as he proved that he only took the positives away from his situation.

“I try to train a lot, but when you do not play much and you have a goalkeeper like Ter Stegen in front of you, who for me is the best goalkeeper in the world for the last 4/5 years, it is a little difficult.

“But I try to learn from him and give everything I have, and in the end, this is the competition.”

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