Marc-Andre ter Stegen denies Marco Reus and sends message to Manuel Neuer | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 18.09.2019
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Marc-Andre ter Stegen denies Marco Reus and sends message to Manuel Neuer

Marc-Andre ter Stegen sent a powerful message upon his return to Germany. The Barcelona goalkeeper pulled off a series of top-class saves against Dortmund in a performance that will spark more national team debate.

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Marco Reus: "We were close to beating Barcelona"

Marc-Andre ter Stegen arrived back in his native Germany on Tuesday night determined to let his football do the talking. 

In the second half of an absorbing contest, the 27-year-old was on hand to deny Dortmund captain Marco Reus on multiple occasions — including from the penalty spot — as Barcelona came away from a raucous Westfalenstadion with a point.

For ter Stegen, it was the perfect response after another frustrating international break and a long-distance exchange of words with goalkeeping colleague Manuel Neuer, who was once again given the nod by Joachim Löw for Germany's recent games against the Netherlands and Northern Ireland. 

"It's not easy to find an explanation,” he said at a promotional event in Barcelona upon his return from Belfast, where he had spent another 90 minutes on the bench. "I do my best in every single game in order to make the decision more difficult, but this international break was a heavy blow.”

His rival, Neuer, after impressing in Bayern Munich's Bundesliga draw with RB Leipzig at the weekend, then questioned whether ter Stegen's remarks were "conducive” to squad harmony, comments which the Barcelona stopper labelled "unnecessary.”

"I don't think ‘Manu' needs to discuss my feelings,” he said ahead of his team's Champions League Group F opener in Dortmund. "You can't call for competition and then expect that players who don't play are just going to be happy about the situation. When you think about the last few years, you can see how I've always behaved.”

Proving a point

And if ter Stegen was looking to prove a point upon his return to Germany, he left no doubt as to his qualities in a second half in which Barcelona had their backs against the Yellow Wall.

"Our entire life! Our complete pride!” roared the massed ranks on the famous terrace as their team forced a series of quick corners right in front of them. And Barca finally cracked, Nelson Semedo bringing down Jadon Sancho in the box. Reus stepped up, placed the ball on the spot, and shot hard and low to ter Stegen's left. But the Germany number two was equal to it, parrying the ball away with a strong left arm.

"Reus is hard to read,” ter Stegen told Spanish reporters post-match in a chaotic mixed zone. "But I went left because I had a good feeling about it.”

Reus will have known all about his compatriot's reputation for saving penalties from their time at Borussia Mönchengladbach together, and ter Stegen has now saved four of the six penalties he has faced in the Champions League.

He's in the form of his life, and his frustration at being overlooked in the Germany team is more than understandable. He proved himself to be a more than adequate replacement when Neuer was out injured in the build-up to the 2018 World Cup, only for the Bayern Munich man to reclaim his place between the posts during the debacle in Russia.

Message received 

Now, after a verbal spat with Neuer pre-match, ter Stegen was just beginning a sporting battle with Reus. Following his missed penalty, the Dortmund forward saw a long-range effort deflected wide before inexplicably firing over from close range after more good work from Sancho.

When he finally hit the target from close range, ter Stegen made himself big to block both Reus' first shot and the rebound, keeping the Catalans in the game by himself – although he was well beaten when Julian Brandt's strike pounded back off his crossbar.

"They had some very clear chances and played really well,” admitted the man-of-the-match. "I am happy that we've been able take a point away from here but we know we have aspects to improve."

Nevertheless, he was rightly pleased with his own performance. "Everyone knows what I'm capable of,” he concluded. "I always want to be 100 per cent at my best and today was a good chance to prove it.”

Marco Reus and Borussia Dortmund received that message loud and clear on Tuesday night. And so, maybe, did Manuel Neuer and Joachim Löw.

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