More than one year after signing for Barcelona, goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is finally set to make his La Liga debut against Atletico Madrid Saturday. While Ter Stegen featured in Barça’s successful Champions League and Copa del Rey campaigns last season, coach Luis Enrique favored Claudio Bravo when it came to league outings.
But after straining his right calf in training on Monday, the Chilean keeper is in doubt for Saturday’s clash at the Vicente Calderon. While last season Enrique chose to start Jordi Masip for the one La Liga match Bravo was unavailable for, reports in Spain have tipped Ter Stegen as the man who will step in this time.
Based on Ter Stegen’s most recent appearances in a Blaugrana jersey -– a 5-4 win over Sevilla, and a 4-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao – this could be a risky decision for Enrique. Starting a keeper who’s leaked eight goals in his two matches against a team like Atletico is far from ideal.
But Ter Stegen -– who is second to Manuel Neuer in terms of selection for the German national team -– is regarded as one of the best up-and-coming goalkeepers in Europe, and many expected him to be Barça’s first choice when he signed for them in the summer of 2014.
Now the 23-year-old has a chance to prove himself against one of the best teams in La Liga. And should Bravo’s injury lead to an extended period on the sidelines, Ter Stegen could get a run of games and perhaps, the opportunity to claim the number one keeper spot many expected him to occupy when he signed for Barça last year.
Barcelona will also have to make do against Atleti without right-back Dani Alves, who is out with a groin injury, and center-back Gerard Pique, who is facing a suspension for verbally abusing a referee.
Watch Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid at 2:30pm ET Saturday on beIN Sports.