Champions League

Ter Stegen eyes CL crown

2015-06-04 14:37
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (fcbarcelona.com)

Berlin - Marc-Andre ter Stegen has the chance to become the fifth German goalkeeper to win the modern Champions League in what would be the crowning achievement of his first season with Spanish giants Barcelona.

The 23-year-old was between the posts in Barcelona's successful Spanish Cup campaign and though Claudio Bravo was given the nod in La Liga, it is ter Stegen who helped the team to the Champions League final against Juventus in Berlin this Saturday.

"Our goal is to win the treble," ter Stegen said in an interview with dpa. "We have a big chance to do that. Winning the Copa gave us some additional momentum for Berlin.

"I think the chances are 50-50. You saw Juve against Real Madrid. They did a very good job. They had an excellent defence in both matches and deserved to reach the final. It is a match that will be really uncomfortable for us - and I hope for Juventus as well."

Should Barca complete the treble for the second time in seven seasons, ter Stegen would join the elite group of Bodo Illgner (Real), Stefan Klos (Dortmund), Oliver Kahn and Manuel Neuer (both bayern Munich) as German keepers with a Champions League winners medal.

"I did not know that," he admitted. "Those are things that I don't really worry about that much. But I know what it means to win the Champions League."

Top goalkeepers more than most have seen their potential playing time put at risk as the biggest clubs demand not only one high-level stopper but at least two and sometimes even three.

That has led to Barca - and rivals Real in 2014 - splitting the number one duties rather than electing to have a clear first choice and a clear back-up.

"It's still my goal to play in the league," ter Stegen said. "But at the moment, I have to concentrate on the cup matches. That is my stage where I can perform. I would like to give my best there so that the club is successful.

"I had the opportunity to be on the pitch for some very good matches. And we have the chance to win everything. I think the season has gone well.

"I believe that I took another step forward. I wanted to continue to develop. I think I did that - also personally. That helps you in life.

So far, his best has been sufficient to impress those in the club and the fans who passionately follow every move made by the team.

"The people in Spain do not really follow the Bundesliga. They are only interested in the big matches between Bayern and Dortmund," ter Stegen said.

"When I came, a couple of people knew of me. But the people had to get used to me and the other way around as well. The fans also did not know what was coming their way. I think they were positively surprised with what I was able to show."

Ter Stegen remains a fan of former club Borussia Moenchengladbach and was thrilled to see his old team-mates secure third place in the Bundesliga.

"I am happy for Gladbach. The club is going through an excellent development," he said. "You have to tip your hat to how well they have worked. I hope they get a nice group in the Champions League."

It is not impossible ter Stegen could be turning out against Gladbach for Barcelona next season and though the Catalan club operates at a different level, the keeper sees some similarities in how things are done in the background.

"For me, the personal side is important," he explained. "We have good characters in the team. That was also the case at Gladbach. That is important in a team, not who is the biggest superstar. We get along well and know what a great team we have.

"It is a world club. Despite the many great players, you have the feeling that it's like a family. Nobody sees themselves as too important. That is good for the team."

While many of his Barcelona colleagues can enjoy a break after the Champions League final, ter Stegen, despite his age, will head to the Czech Republic for the under-21 European Championships. It is a tournament he wants to win but he remains realistic on his short-term chances of becoming Germany's number one.

"It's good for Germany. I am a German and I am happy when Manu (Neuer) does a good job. Then you can win more matches and titles. Once again, he played this year at a very high level. I was happy for him how well things went. He became a world champion, which he absolutely deserved," he said.

Read more on:    barcelona  |  champions league  |  soccer
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