Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez could not hide his delight after seeing his team keep a 23rd clean sheet of the season in La Liga on Sunday, April 23 in a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid at the Camp Nou.
The win restored Barcelona’s 11-point lead at the top of table and means the team have conceded just nine goals from 30 appearances in Spain’s top flight. It’s an impressive stat and one that Xavi knows is extraordinary, as reported by Barca Universal.
“It’s not normal to concede 9 goals in 30 games,” he told reporters. “But I’m very happy with the way the team works, that they work hard until the last second, it’s something that gives us a lot now and in the future.”
Barcelona now have just eight league games left to play but face two matches in the space of four days next week. First up is a trip to Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday, April 26, followed by a visit from Real Betis.
Follow the Heavy on Barcelona Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Praise For Ter Stegen
Xavi also singled out goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen for praise after another shut-out by the Germany international. Ter Stegen made two important stops from Antoine Griezmann to preserve his clean sheet and prevent the Frenchman netting against his former team.
The Barcelona manager made it clear just how highly he rates Ter Stegen and how he feels he is the perfect goalkeeper for his team because of his ability on the ball, as reported by Sport.
“He is one of the three best goalkeepers in the world. And for the way we want to play, he is the best,” he explained. “He is decisive with his footwork and extraordinary in goal. He is a guarantee. The defence has improved a lot, with a high line. The high pressure after losses has been important.”
Ter Stegen has returned to his best form this season after taking a rest during the summer. The goalkeeper opted not to join up with German national team for international duty and the break appears to have helped him enormously.
The 30-year-old looks destined to win the Zamora Trophy this season, handed to the goalkeeper with the lowest goals-to-game ratio, for the first time in his career.
Ter Stegen Matches Club Record
Sunday’s clean sheet also means that Ter Stegen has matched a club record previously set by Claudio Bravo. The stopper also kept 23 clean sheets, during the 2014-15 campaign, although he did concede 19 goals.
Ter Stegen now has the chance to break that record and own it outright. With eight games of the campaign still to play, the stopper will be optimistic he can extend his run of clean sheets further.
Barcelona head to Rayo Vallecano next and face a team on a poor run of form. Rayo have just one win in their last 10 league matches, meaning Xavi’s side will be big favourites to take all three points at Vallecas.
READ NEXT: Lewandowski Sends Barcelona ‘Nice Football’ Warning