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Legacy on the line: Time for ter Stegen to come up clutch in the UCL for Barcelona

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Barcelona’s astonshing resurgence this season has coincided with the return of their star goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

On paper, the German has kept clean sheets week in week out, notably managing six back-to-back clean sheets in La Liga.

However, ter Stegen’s impact on the field has been quite minimal. The goalkeeper has not been able to add that leadership factor while his clean sheets have been largely driven by some extraordinary support from defenders.

Ter Stegen’s performances in UCL

While Barcelona are still alive in the title race, a bigger goal for the club would be to secure a ticket to the Champions League semifinal. The team is slated to take on PSG in the second leg on Tuesday.

As Barça approach this game, though, ter Stegen’s performances in the Champions League serve as a worrying trend for the home team.

In seven matches this season, the former Gladbach ‘keeper has kept only two clean sheets, conceding 10 goals in the process.

Four of these seven matches have come during the first half of the campaign. But even in the three matches this year, ter Stegen has conceded four goals in three matches and has failed to keep a single clean sheet.

All eyes on MAtS. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite conceding two goals in the first leg against PSG, ter Stegen performed relatively well and made three saves. However, his save percentage rate in the UCL this season stands at 72% and in the first leg, it was only 66%.

Just to put things into perspective, ter Stegen has recorded a save percentage rate of 100% in each of his last five matches in La Liga. Somehow this record has not been translated into the Champions League.

Time for ter Stegen to step up in UCL?

Ter Stegen was by far the best goalkeeper in La Liga last season, with a save percentage rate of 84%. At 74%, He has not performed at the same level this time around, but his numbers are improving with each passing game.

However, in the Champions League, the numbers have stagnated, especially after the group stages.

A key reason could be that Barcelona are facing much tougher opponents in UCL’s knockout stages. So far this year, Barça have played Napoli twice and PSG once.

They will take on PSG once again on Wednesday, where the defence will have to contain the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Randal Kolo Muani, among others.

Ter Stegen had to encounter six shots on goal in the first leg, which is the combined total of what he had to face in the last three league encounters against Cadiz, Las Palmas and Atletico Madrid.

Therefore, shooting up the save percentage rate could be much more difficult for ter Stegen.

What could aid ter Stegen?

For a start, ter Stegen could do with greater defensive support from his teammates. The likes of Ronald Araujo, Pau Cubarsi and Jules Kounde already did a superb job in the first leg.

But these three must up their game further, knowing Mbappe will be determined to perform well, especially after a poor showing in midweek.

The first-leg could have been different without Araujo. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

More than the volume of the shots, ter Stegen would prefer low-quality shots being fired at him. In the first leg, for example, PSG managed an xG tally of 1.24, which is quite low but enough to test a goalkeeper’s ability to retain a clean sheet.

As Barcelona prepare for the second leg, restricting PSG to an xG of 0.6 or below could go a long way in helping ter Stegen register his first clean sheet in the competition this year.

But it is ter Stegen himself who must step up to the plate. His leadership and experience could be pivotal in an otherwise inexperienced Barcelona defence, which will have a daunting task of shutting out the likes of Mbappe and Dembele this midweek.

Stats courtesy: FBRef

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