GK Rivalries - Marc Ter Stegen v Claudio Bravo
From Ter Stegen’s arrival in Catalonia from Borussia Monchengladbach and Bravo from Real Sociedad in 2014, an interesting dynamic unravelled until Bravo’s exit for Manchester City two years later, a period in which the number one spot was shared between the two.
The summer of 2014 saw wholesale changes at the Nou Camp after failing to bring home La Liga or the Champions League, which prompted the signings of Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic to name a few.
Following the departure of stalwart Victor Valdes, Luis Enrique looked to bleed in new talent in the goalkeeping department to compliment the aforementioned incomings to strengthen the backline, along with the additions of Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermalen to the defence.
A selection headache for Enrique was not forthcoming in the first instance, as Ter Stegen suffered an injury prior to the La Liga opener forced the manager’s hand to start Claudio Bravo, who after an outstanding start to the season (in which his goal was unbreeched for 751 minutes from the first game), kept his place for the duration of the La Liga campaign.
However, Bravo’s league exploits were not rewarded with the privilege of playing in the elite of European football and Ter Stegen, with his manager determined for his young goalkeeper not to stagnate on the bench, was handed a place in the first eleven for all cup competitions, including the Champions League.
Despite Bravo’s admission into the La Liga team of the year at the end of the 2014/15 season, it was Ter Stegen who manned the goalmouth for the 2015 Champions League Final against Juventus, where Barca prevailed as 3-1 winners.
Ter Stegen at that time had the misfortune of being one of the most highly rated goalkeepers in football, yet still playing second fiddle to both Bravo and Manuel Neuer for club and country respectively.
It wasn’t until September 2015, after he helped Barcelona clinch their fifth Champions League title, where the German made his La Liga debut, however could still not cement himself as the main man until his Chilean counterpart left for Manchester City in the summer of 2016 in a deal thought to be worth £17 million.
Since, both men’s careers have taken very different paths. Bravo, very much in his twilight years at the age of 35, now occupies City’s bench after the arrival of Ederson to the Etihad just one season into Bravo’s tenure.
Ter Stegen has now established himself in Barcelona’s starting team in all competitions and the possibility of a treble is very much on in Catalonia. The German has also made a further 18 appearances for the national side since he became the sole occupier of the gloves at the Nou Camp.