Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved a second-half penalty to help Barcelona hold on to a 0-0 draw with Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League opening match on Tuesday night at Signal Iduna Park.
The match also saw Lionel Messi make his debut for the 2019/20 season after missing the opening weeks of LaLiga Santander with an injury. The Argentine came on as a second-half substitute but had little influence over the final half-hour of a match in which Barcelona’s best player of the night was stationed in between the posts.
After scoring just two minutes into his first ever Barcelona first-team start last Saturday, 16-year-old Ansu Fati got the nod again in head coach Ernesto Valverde’s starting XI. Fati joined Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann up top.
It was a bright start from the hosts and midway through the first 45 minutes they carved out an excellent scoring chance thanks to an exquisite pass from Thorgan Hazard for Marco Reus, however Ter Stegen was alert and made a big block to keep things scoreless.
Valverde cut an annoyed and frustrated figure, and an injury to Jordi Alba only made his mood worse, with Sergi Roberto called on to replace the left-back.
With Messi warming up on the sideline at the start of the second half, Dortmund looked to get on the scoreboard before the Argentine’s introduction on the pitch, and they had a golden opportunity when Nelson Semedo tripped Jadon Sancho in the Barcelona area, resulting in a penalty. But in a battle of German national team players, Ter Stegen guessed correctly by diving correctly to his left to stop Marco Reus’ spot kick.
Moments later Messi did make his entrance, replacing Ansu Fati, while Ivan Rakitic also came on for Sergio Busquets to exhaust Barcelona’s three substitutions.
But it was Dortmund who were the ones creating most of the scoring chances, although they lacked the finishing touch. First there was a stinging right-footed effort from Julian Brandt that left the crossbar rattling, followed by Brandt picking out Reus, only to see his shot deflected by Ter Stegen onto the post and out.
Messi saw very little of the ball, and when he did get a touch, there was usually a pair of Dortmund players snapping at his heels, making it difficult to generate any type of attack. The final minutes saw Barcelona have much of the ball, but they posed little threat to Roman Burki in the Dortmund goal, appearing content to open their European campaign with just a point.
If Germany had forgotten who Marc-Andre ter Stegen was, the German goalkeeper returned to his homeland to show them exactly what he can do as Barcelona salvaged a point against Borussia Dormund on Tuesday night.
He shrunk Dortmund in their own stadium and sent a clear message to Joachim Low: he must be his country’s No.1
It’s hard to argue a case against him. From close range or from distance, with the ball at his feet or when it’s in the air, he is the goalkeeper that Manuel Neuer used to be.
The display couldn’t have been timed better either, with the debate around Germany‘s goalkeeper position being almost non-existent. He stopped a Marco Reus penalty and made two other impressive saves.
“People know what I can do,” he said.
“I always want to be 100 percent.”
In Germany, it seems there doesn’t appear to be a debate, but Ter Stegen has shown again that there should be.