In the end, Marc-Andre ter Stegen let his actions speak louder than words. On Tuesday evening, the Barcelona keeper was indefatigable, almost single-handedly keeping a ferocious Borussia Dortmund at bay and sparing his side from defeat in their opening Champions League game of the season.
It was a statement performance. In the last few weeks, Ter Stegen’s ongoing battle with Manuel Neuer for the Germany number one jersey has flared up into a rather petty war of the words, and the 27-year-old will have wanted to make a point when he returned to his home country for the match against Dortmund. He did so spectacularly.
‘We all know Marc-Andre is a world class goalkeeper,’ said a glum Marco Reus after being repeatedly thwarted by Ter Stegen’s heroics, which included a second-half penalty save.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen almost single-handedly kept Borussia Dortmund at bay on Tuesday
Ter Stegen is involved in a rather petty war of words with German compatriot Manuel Neuer
Germany coach Joachim Low professes to know that too, and yet he continues to put his faith in veteran Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer. Despite constant assurances that he will get his chance, Ter Stegen’s patience has started to run thin, as his brilliant performances with Barcelona are not rewarded with game time for the national team.
The last international break, in which a benched Ter Stegen sat stony-faced through a 4-2 defeat to the Netherlands and a 2-0 win in Northern Ireland, seemed to have pushed him over the edge. Though he retained a dignified silence in the national team camp, his frustration came tumbling out in fluent Spanish upon his return to Barcelona.
‘It’s hard to find an explanation. I give my best in every game, I try everything to get time in goal. This trip with the national team was a tough blow for me,’ he told reporters at a promotional event in the Catalan capital last week.
The comments naturally made headlines in Germany, and prompted a response from Neuer. Usually reticent and gracious on the topic of Ter Stegen, the Bayern keeper can snark like the best of them if he feels the need to, and sent a haughty barb back to Barcelona on Monday.
‘He didn’t say anything when he was in the national team. I don’t know if (his comments) help, because we are a team and should present ourselves as such,’ he said.
Bayern Munich goalkeeper Neuer is currently keeping Ter Stegen out of Germany’s side
The last international break pushed Ter Stegen, who sat on the bench, over the edge
Ter Stegen then sniffily suggested that it was not up to Neuer to comment on his feelings, and made his point with a brilliant performance in front of the Dortmund crowd on Tuesday. That put an end to the bickering for the time being, but for Joachim Low, the selection headache has not gone away.
‘We can understand Marc-Andre’s disappointment, but the fact is that only one person can play,’ said Low this week. This is also a familiar problem for Low, who was assistant coach back in…