Marc-André ter Stegen is in danger of being eliminated in the duel with Manuel Neuer for the position in goal for the national soccer team. Spanish media even speculated that the 31-year-old might need to undergo surgery because of ongoing back problems.
“The alarm bells are ringing: an operation is imminent,” was the headline in the Catalan newspaper “Mundo Deportivo” in a report about the FC Barcelona goalkeeper. The coaching staff and doctors at the traditional club want to discuss “the next steps”.
There is no reaction from ter Stegen or his club, nor is there a forecast about the downtime. After the 1-0 win in the top game against Atlético Madrid, coach Xavi Hernández simply acknowledged the prevailing uncertainty: "Marc has some problems in his back and we'll see how things go this week. He has these problems that he hasn't cured yet could, and we'll see," he said.
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Ter Stegen had already missed the DFB team's two test games against Turkey (2:3) and in Austria (0:2) at short notice due to back problems and also had to watch Barça's three following games. “Nothing is 100 percent decided yet, but since conservative treatment does not bring the expected results, it is time to consider other options,” wrote the specialist newspaper “Sport”.
Ter Stegen had been in goal for the national team in eight of nine international matches this year until his November loss. Due to his good performances in the DFB team and with the Spanish champions, he was considered the clear number one and designated goalkeeper for the European Championships next summer in the absence of Manuel Neuer after his broken leg.
After Neuer's comeback in goal at FC Bayern Munich in October, there are increasing signs that the 37-year-old could replace his long-time deputy as a regular again. Neuer had recently reiterated this claim several times. National coach Julian Nagelsmann assured at the European Championship draw on Saturday in Hamburg that Neuer would be part of the DFB squad again for the next international matches in March, "if he stays healthy and plays like he does now." Kevin Trapp was in the DFB goal in the November games. The Frankfurter is considered number three for the European Championships behind Neuer and ter Stegen.