After these two games, Luis Enrique opted for Claudio Bravo to start in the first official league match of the new season. There were some voices in the crowd who took that as a sign of confidence issue for Ter Stegen.
Is that the case? The truth is the German goalkeeper underperformed in both games. The slow and often insecure defence line in front of him didn’t help either. On many occasions we were reminded that the back four is still a problem for Barcelona, even with the triumphant return of Thomas Vermaelen.
However, if we look back on the previous campaign we see that Luis Enrique actually continued to do what he did throughout the whole year. Claudio Bravo started in La Liga, Ter Stegen in the cup ties. Enrique’s staff recognised that Ter Stegen needs to get more experience without sacrificing the brilliance of Bravo. This decision worked out more then well for both goalkeepers and Barcelona.
This year the situation is different. The team started with a SuperCopa disappointment - we saw multiple problems with the defence in both games, a slightly unfocused Ter Stegen and tired Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez coming back from Copa America.
It was a big surprise to see that Ter Stegen was not on his best game, trying to follow Manuel Neuer’s style contributing with a great assist for Bilbao’s first goal. He was out of position, didn’t judge his actions well enough and with a great assist helped San Jose for a sensational goal. But is it a surprise indeed?
The attitude of the German goalkeeper has changed and to certain extend rightfully so -- he is a treble winer at the age of 23. However, he couldn’t organize his defenders either. We saw more than once the trouble that the back four had over these several games. In times Dani Alves failed to cover properly, there was a dissonance between central defenders and goalkeepers and issues in set pieces.
For many of Barcelona’s supporters this was a warning sign - add the eight conceded goals and the starting of Bravo was welcomed news. Did they lose faith in the German youngster? -- maybe. Did Luis Enrique lose his confidence? -- hardly so, he has showed many times that he has a plan and it does include Ter Stegen.
Claudio Bravo is a great goalkeeper, he showed it last season - guiding Barcelona to a La Liga title with excellent performances. However, reality is cruel: He is now injured.
In the next three weeks Ter Stegen will be back between the posts in games against Atletico Madrid, Celta and Las Palmas. Three weeks that are make it or brake it for the german. Three games that can give an early indication on where this season is going. It is early, but in an increasingly competitive La Liga, every point counts.
Ter Stegen can come and stay in or can fade away as quickly -- time to show your worth!