Some of you may already be fuming after seeing the title. After all, how dare I question the unmatchable prowess of Super Manuel Neuer? How can I put a younger keeper as a possible number 1 for the defending champions when there is a proven World Class keeper who played a vital role in their 2014 march to glory?
But the question above is in no way a doubt on one of the all-time greats but a testament to how far along Marc-Andre ter Stegen has come. The boy from Gladbach is bossing it at the highest level. The 25-year-old’s incredible performance for Barcelona begs the question of his availability for the 2018 World Cup. How he has managed to solidify himself as one of the best keepers in the world suggests that Germany has more than two greats between the posts and perhaps should look to find a way in which to accommodate both.
Here are three reasons as to why ter Stegen should be given a chance in Russia:
1) Recent Performance
After displacing the experienced Claudio Bravo to solidify himself as the undisputed number 1 at the Camp Nou, ter Stegen has been consistently brilliant. This season has been no different as the German has played an immense role in Barcelona’s quest to reclaim the La Liga trophy. Marc has only allowed two goals in his last 10 games. His performance in the El Clasico is also another proof of how mature he has become.
On January 7th Barcelona managed to beat Levante 3-0. ter Stegen was relatively untroubled but made two absolutely brilliant saves when called upon. Managing to keep your concentration in a match you are barely involved in was a quality we used to admire about Neuer and his fellow countryman seem to have acquired that special attribute.
2) All Rounder
Besides his good reflexes and amazing ability to stop long shots, ter Stegen is highly skilled with the ball at his feet. According to WhoScored.com, the German has an 81.7% pass completion in La Liga and 84.6% in the Champions League this season.
This is a vital skill-set for a side like Germany who thrives on building out from the back. ter Stegen also has the ability to come out of his line to intercept a ball and quell a possible threat. Even at a relatively young age for a goalkeeper, the Barca man has the experience of over 245 first team appearances with Gladbach and Barcelona combined. Whatever Neuer can do so does Barcelona’s number 1.
3) Neuer injury issues
We wouldn’t be having this conversation if Neuer was fully fit. Sadly that isn’t the case with the 31-year-old who has undergone a surgery on his foot in November following a metatarsal injury. Although he is expected to return by March there will be lingering doubts about how fully fit and fully in-form he will be in June.
Neuer is still a top-class keeper but so is ter Stegen. The performances the latter is putting for Barcelona should not be overlooked. He might not start all of the games in Russia but at least deserves to start a few.
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