Marc Andre Ter Stegen – a name that is quickly becoming a thorn in the side of FC Bayern.
Three league games since the start of 2011/12 in the first-team and three matches that the Bavarians have failed to win against Borussia Mönchengladbach. The Rekordmeister’s 12-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga softens the blow of the Gladbach stutter – but it is reasonable to say that the hosts bombarded Ter Stegen’s goal, without the 20-year-old giving an inch.
The keeper has grown in stature and maturity in his short first-team career but again looked years above his stage in the intense environment of the Allianz Arena. One of Lucien Favre’s first essential moves in January 2010 was to sort out Gladbach’s woeful defensive performances under predecessor Michael Frontzeck and it was not long before the shy 18-year-old became a household name in the Bundesliga.
Ter Stegen caught the eye immediately for his excellent shot-stopping abilities and his decent footwork, too, which made him a key element in Favre’s counter-attacking system that relied on the youngster to perform a ‘sweeper’ role in more reserved performance. That responsibility was firmly placed on the keeper’s shoulders in the first match of 2012 where Ter Stegen was in stunning form – both between the sticks and on the deck – to help secure a 3-1 win for die Fohlen.
Six months earlier, Ter Stegen upstaged the debutant Neuer with another fine performance, as Gladbach put a sting in the tail to take a 1-0 win on the opening day of the season.
On Matchday 17, the German U21 international was an unbeatable opponent at times for FC Bayern who will be cursing their luck anytime Ter Stegen appears on the team-sheets. Whilst Manuel Neuer’s form continued to raise doubts over his position in the national team, the Gladbach keeper pulled off a string of outstanding saves, denying Franck Ribery’s stunning 40-yard volley and efforts from David Alaba and Thomas Müller – but could not thwart Xherdan Shaqiri from drilling home on 59 minutes to secure the home side a point after Thorben Marx had slotted home with supreme composure on 21 minutes.
In his three ‘Man of the Match’ performances against the Bavarians, Ter Stegen had the highest number of touches amongst his Gladbach team-mates with 62 on Friday evening. His 57 Bundesliga appearances, to date, may have come in a flash but Ter Stegen is becoming the cornerstone of Gladbach’s resilience this season. Dante’s departure to FC Bayern has had a huge effect on the solidity of Favre’s back-four and his increasing confidence has been invaluable this season. Ter Stegen is dominant from corner-kicks, collecting 11 of them and securing 43 cross-balls in his grasp.
His distribution of the ball is up there with the best in the Bundesliga. Ter Stegen has made 126 accurate throw-outs this season and 12 successful goal-kicks which have landed at another team mate. To put that into context, German number one, Neuer, has managed 99 accurate throw-outs and only one accurate goal-kick. He has already received massive acclaim from former German internationals, as well as, FCB coach Jupp Heynckes who said last year: “Sooner or later, he is the number two in Germany behind Manuel Neuer.”
Well, on current form … he might soon be number one.
Ter Stegen and Mönchengladbach have turned their season around since October and end the hinrunde on the fringes of a European position. The Foals are unbeaten in their last six games and have only lost one in their last 10 games, in all competitions. There will not be much change at the top of the Bundesliga with FC Bayern set to hold a domineering lead going in to the winter shutdown.
Follow editor Ross Dunbar on twitter @rossdunbar93
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