When FC Barcelona signed goalkeepers Marc-André ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo in the summer of 2014 from Borussia Mönchengladbach and Real Sociedad, respectively, the German was widely expected to be the Blaugrana’s No. 1 ‘keeper in all competitions. However, a back contusion kept him out for the first few matches of the season, and Bravo greatly impressed. Since then, the Chilean has been the No. 1 goalkeeper in league matches, while ter Stegen has started almost every cup match. Both men have expressed their displeasure at not being the overall No. 1. Bravo, like every other player, wants the glamor of playing in the Champions League and ter Stegen knows that the league is the bread and butter of every team’s campaign. While both have been linked with moves away from the Camp Nou (Bravo has been linked to Manchester City and ter Stegen to Liverpool), there are still no signs of either departing the Catalan capital every time soon. Here, I will compare the two shot-stoppers in different categories to see who is more important to the Blaugrana.
Obviously the most important trait for a goalkeeper, I’ll start by comparing the pair’s ability to stop a shot. Both have demonstrated unbelievable skills in this category, ranging from Bravo’s kick save on Antoine Griezmann to ter Stegen’s stretching stop of Robert Lewandowski’s show in the Champions League semifinals. Ter Stegen’s ability to stop a shot is remarkable in general, but absolutely astonishing for a ‘keeper of his age. However, Bravo’s agility to reach a shot anywhere on the goal makes him the winner in this category. 1-0 Bravo.
This category also includes one’s ability to command his defense and control the penalty area. Ter Stegen has shown himself capable of doing many things well in his time with the Blaugrana, and although he can control his penalty area and direct his defence, his decision-making skills are abysmal. On multiple times this season he has been caught way off his line and opponents have scored from 40 yards out. On the other hand, Bravo has an unbelievable gift when it comes to making the right choice and commanding his defense. The Chilean always knows where to be and when to get there. He always has unbelievable control over his penalty area as well. In this weekend’s match against Sevilla, there was a moment when a ball came to Bravo that was hard to deal with. Instead of panicking, he ordered a defender behind him and calmly headed it back to eliminate the danger. Bravo easily takes this category. 2-0 Bravo.
One of the things that Barcelona always requires in their goalkeepers is the ability to play the ball with their feet. Both Bravo and ter Stegen were known to be long-time targets of the Blaugrana due to their ball-playing ability. Both are very talented in this category, however, ter Stegen is slightly better than Bravo when it comes to using his feet. Although Bravo is very talented, ter Stegen is arguably the best ball-playing goalkeeper in the world after compatriot Manuel Neuer. 2-1 Bravo.
Overall, Claudio Bravo is a better goalkeeper than Marc-Andre ter Stegen. However, Bravo is 32 years old while ter Stegen is 23. Therefore, the German is Barca’s goalkeeper of the future, and the Blaugrana are still in very good hands in this aspect.