Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde says Marc-Andre ter Stegen is “fundamental” to their fortunes after Saturday’s Clasico win over Real Madrid.
Valverde’s men eased to what ultimately proved a routine 3-0 success at the Santiago Bernabeu, Luis Suarez’s opener, a Lionel Messi penalty – which came after Dani Carvajal was sent off for handling on the line – and an Aleix Vidal strike sealing the points.
Ter Stegen was relatively untroubled at the other end, though he was forced into action by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, while Karim Benzema hit the post in the first half.
Ronaldo also had a goal ruled out for offside but Valverde was very complimentary of Ter Stegen after seeing his LaLiga-leading side go 14 points clear of defending champions Madrid.
“Marc is fundamental for us for the saves he makes and because he is the player who starts our moves,” Valverde said of the German.
“Sometimes we are a little nervous when we have the ball close to him but he’s always very calm. They always had a player nearby threatening to rob the ball but Marc reads the game well.”
Barca’s comfortable win could hardly have been predicted when Madrid claimed a dominant two-leg triumph in the Supercopa de Espana at the start of the season.
But, having avenged that 5-1 aggregate humiliation, Valverde denied this was a personal victory for him over counterpart Zinedine Zidane.
“No [it is not a personal victory over Zidane]. I haven’t won anything,” Valverde said.
“This is a game which sometimes is decided by a small detail. But for the kind of teams we are, everything is magnified when you lose”.
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