FC Barcelona: Lewandowski and Ter Stegen, keys in the culé resurgence | Soccer | Sports


Last year an almost perfect recipe worked for any team: a solvent goalkeeper and an effective forward. A Marc-André ter Stegen and a Robert Lewandowski in their best version who were both definitive in achieving LaLiga last season. After the last game against Atlético de Madrid, there is a glimmer of similarity. The Polish striker was the executioner, scoring a goal and distributing two assists, participating in the three goals that earned him the MVP of the game. Not only that: he became the first player to participate in at least three goals in a League match in the red and white fiefdom since Cristiano Ronaldo achieved it in November 2016. And Ter Stegen, showing calmness and confidence between the sticks, managed reach the fourth consecutive League game without conceding a goal – 403 unbeaten minutes in the domestic competition – something that had not happened since April of last year. With the result against Simeone’s team, FC Barcelona managed to snatch second place in the league from Girona, and the team’s morale continued to rise after the victory against Naples and the move to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

“If it is the best game of the season? “It could be,” Lewandowski shared after the meeting. “It may be his best game at Barça,” analyzed Xavi Hernández, Barça coach. At some points during the season, the forward seemed to have faded between the ups and downs, and Barcelona missed his goal: he went six consecutive games without finding the goal. But he has woken up in the decisive section of this course. “If we play easier, we play better,” added the footballer.

The Pole – who arrived at Barcelona after scoring 312 goals in 384 Bundesliga games – scored 32 goals and added 8 assists last season. In the current one, still far from seeing the goal (20 goals), he has already surpassed his goal assists (9). Data that places him as the player with the greatest participation – direct or indirect – in LaLiga goals (20), above Bellingham (19) and Dovbyk (19), although still three goals behind the Englishman in the top scorer classification. But beyond the numbers, the forward showed the best version of himself in the assault on the Metropolitan by recovering his precision in passes, in controls and participating up to 37 times. Number that had not been reached since the first leg at Atlético de Madrid.

In the second stretch of the season he has already scored more goals than during the first —11 compared to 9. For Lewandowski, there is an obvious change, and he explained it when asked what was different since Xavi had announced his departure. He was clear about it, and he did not hesitate: the change on the playing field goes through a metamorphosis in training and physical preparation, one of the great concerns of the board. “In recent weeks, we have changed the training a little, with a little more intensity. I feel very good and I think my teammates do too. We have to continue like this after the break. It’s time to take a step forward,” Lewandowski confessed after the game against Atlético.

The one who has also taken a step forward has been Ter Stegen, fundamental in keeping the goal intact at the Metropolitano, especially in a double save in the 52nd minute. The goalkeeper returned from his operation due to his lumbar problems after three months out against the Granada last February. He didn’t start on the right foot: that day—in which the defense did not shine for its solvency—he conceded three goals in Montjuïc. But since that draw, Barcelona has not lost any of the subsequent seven games played, and with the accumulation of minutes, the German goalkeeper has regained his sensations and has kept a clean sheet in four consecutive League games.

The game against Atlético is the way and should serve as an example, according to the Polish striker. “The most important thing is to continue playing like today. We know how we can do it, we have great potential with great players. A great squad combining young people with older players,” explained Lewandowski. He reappeared when he was needed most: at a key point in the season. And with him, Ter Stegen, who returned to put a lock on the goal. Barcelona once again has the ideal recipe. Now we need to continue perfecting it.

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