Ter Stegen is being viewed as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world, alongside Jan Oblak and Alisson Becker. His signing from Borussia Monchengladbach was an absolute steal for €12 million. The German has played as one of the most important parts of Barcelona’s recent successes.
His strengths for the team are his shot-stopping ability, regularly making reflex saves and his distribution and ability on the ball. This is the reason he has 2 assists for the team, a remarkable number for a goalkeeper.
ter Stegen’s role:
The shaded rectangle area above shows exactly within what areas he operates.
Ter Stegen plays like the classic Cruyffian goalkeeper, alternatively known as the “Sweeper Keeper’. The main characteristics that the sweeper-keeper should have is his ability in distribution and confidence in moving out of his territory. Ter Stegen fits both the descriptions well.
His distribution ability comes into play here, as he can play passes to the LB or RB, who progress the ball to the wingers. Alternatively, he can play passes to Busquets, the CDM, who uses his ball retaining ability to get the ball to the more creative players.
The general tactic to close these passing lanes is to mark the centre-backs or pressure the CDM. So, the German plays long balls to the full-backs or some time even to the wingers. This tactic relies on the pace of the wingers (Fati, Messi and Griezmann) to beat their man and get to the ball and score.
Here, Ter Stegen plays a long pass from an advanced position while being pressed to Suarez (In the circle), who makes a smartly timed run and meets the ball and lobs the keeper with one touch.
An interesting factor of Ter Stegen’s distribution is Barcelona’s exploitations of the new goal kick rule. Here, the players of the team with possession are allowed to enter the box, while the pressing team are not. Setien’s tactical acumen and his distribution help in getting more balls forward in a goal kick.
During a goal-kick, the two Barça centre-backs position themselves a short distance from Ter Stegen on either side of him. The new rule effectively increases the distance between the players which created more space for the defence to play the ball in. So, there is a short exchange between the LCB and keeper, and the opposition team begin to press.
Now that the players marking the centre forward have shifted, Ter Stegen can get the ball to him easier and can create opportunities.
Ter Stegen by far has been the best member in Barcelona’s defence, and his saves have single-handedly won his team games, making him the highest-rated player this season.
This chart shows how Ter Stegen is of great quality at saving and distribution, being at a higher percentile than most goalkeepers. He is the best goalkeeper at Launched Pass Completion, which measures passing accuracy.
His GSAA% is also one of the best in the top 5 leagues, meaning that he saves a lot more Goals compared to the average. Cross stopping is an important metric for a goalkeeper and indicates their attacking mentality. This is where he does well on average as well.
At the age of 28 and the German yet to reach his peak, Marc Andre Ter-Stegen has been one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Considering that he is younger than most great goalkeepers, and still has a lot of years in him, he should be set in stone as a goalkeeper at Barcelona for a long time.