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Who would’ve guessed that after four matches in the Spanish First Division and one in the UEFA Champions League FC Barcelona would have four matching clean sheets to pin up on the wall as a testament to its early season success? While a quartet of victories in the season’s first four encounters is hardly surprising, the fact that Barça has outscored opponents 12–0 in those games more accurately describes just how dominating the team his been, especially in its own end.
Goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen, Barça’s 25-year-old German net minder, now in his fourth season with the team, has been nothing short of spectacular. Ter Stegen’s sterling performance in Barça’s 3–0 shutout of Juventus on Tuesday night (Highlights, Match Report) was the epitome of confident goalkeeping. He rendered the reigning Italian champions and last year’s Champions League finalists silent with a panoply of big saves throughout the night, closely mirroring his performances in Barça’s first three Liga clashes this season, which resulted in 2–0 triumphs over Real Betis and Alavés, and a 5–0 rout of crosstown rivals RCD Espanyol on last Saturday.
But he didn’t do it all alone and, statistically speaking, in front of every great goalkeeper, is a great defense. New manager Ernesto Valverde’s insistence on creating and maintaining pressure on Barça’s opponents is one of the big reasons the team has yet to concede.
“We're trying to do what the coach tells us to do and it's working out nicely,” said fullback Jordi Alba after the win over Juventus.
In following Valverde’s philosophy, Barça has an impressive 219 ball recoveries through the four games played thus far. Here’s a look at the breakdown per game:
- 56 recoveries against Betis
- 60 recoveries against Alavés
- 51 recoveries against Espanyol
- 52 recoveries against Juventus
And with Barça heading on the road this weekend to face recently re-promoted Getafe, there’s every expectation that the team’s defensive and goalkeeping numbers look primed to swell.
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