If in the first semifinal of the Super Cup Thibaut Courtois emerged with a prodigious performance, in the second the one who dazzled was his counterpart in the final on Sunday, the Barcelona player Marc-André Ter Stegen. The German exhibited himself in a night with five saves, four of them from shots from inside the area. The Betis coach, Manuel Pellegrini, later remembered a couple of them that were decisive: “Ter Stegen made two impressive saves on scoring chances.” A stretched shot from the Brazilian Luiz Henrique and a point-blank shot from Miranda at the far post.
Although, as in the case of de Courtois, where his impact on the result was seen even more clearly was in the penalty shootout. The German saved shots from Juanmi and Carvalho and Barça scored their first four. Xavi recognized the weight of his goalkeeper in the pass to the final: “We have a great goalkeeper, who is Mar-André Ter Stegen, who makes the difference”, he said. “In penalties you have to have a great goalkeeper to stop them. Ter Stegen has taken us to the final”.
The German explained the combination that had allowed him to decide the tiebreaker: “There has been intuition and study in penalties, but there is also luck, and it was our turn today.”
Ter Stegen suffered a slump last season, but so far this year he has raised his level again and has become the most decisive goalkeeper in the League. He has already left his doubts and physical difficulties behind: “I think that for a year or so I have been at a good level physically. It is the fruit of work and the support of colleagues”. They knew they needed it, as Xavi explained: “If we keep a clean sheet, then we create many chances.”
And now that the German is back, the dressing room recognizes him, starting with Pedri, who was chosen as the best player in the semifinal, but the first thing he did was mention the German: “Marc deserved it much more than me. For me, we are in the final because of him, thanks to his saves”. And he also referred to Courtois’ remarkable moment, which he will face on Sunday in the final: “A real madness, both Marc in our team and Courtois in his. They are two goalkeepers who are at a very high level. There are few goalkeepers who can be at that level”.
The goalkeeper was the best news of the game for a Xavi who is still worried about an old mistake that he has been pointing out for days: the matches start well, but they don’t finish buttoning them up and allow the rival to rebuild and get back in. The problem is so identified that Pedri also described it accurately: “We don’t close the games. It costs us. After the first goal, there is a moment of relaxation for the team during many games, and we have to change that and go for the second and third goals”.
One of the problems that Ter Stegen believes led them to that point against Betis was fatigue, which Xavi also pointed out, and attributed to the elements: “The field was very hard and the players got very tired. Of the two teams, huh”.
Pellegrini went so far as to request changes in the regulations due to the physical consequences: “With the high pace at which it is played today, there should be no more extensions. 90 minutes and end on penalties. The demand is too high for the pace at which it is played today. We had half the players with cramps, and those from Barcelona too, ”he said. “But having been behind twice makes us appreciate the game more.”
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