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Friday August 8 2014
Bravo Barca

Barcelona's attacking force is garnering headlines but their goalkeepers might play as big a part in their success, Robbie Dunne writes.

The goalkeeping situation at Barcelona and Real Madrid, for the last decade, has been one steeped in consistency and high performance. As we enter a new season, we are faced with more than a few questions of not just Real Madrid's second choice goalkeeper, but Barcelona's first choice shot-stopper.

Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid have signed five new goalkeepers between them during the summer and have spent a combined €53m on their collective goalkeeping recruitment drive with Jan Oblak, Miguel Angel Moya, Claudio Bravo, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, and Keylor Navas joining the names that have gone before them amongst La Liga's top clubs.

Barcelona, who are entering a new era with a corps of attacking options that might make one salivate, lost their captain and the heart of their defence in Carlos Puyol, with important figure Victor Valdes following suit at the end of last season.

While the Catalans were without the two aforementioned players for a large chunk of the season, they also didn't win anything last year and part of the problem might have been down to their absence. The good news is that they get to start over again with a new Coach, new central defender in Jeremy Mathieu and perhaps most importantly, two new goalkeepers.

The sensible choice of bringing in Bravo, who has already played for eight years in La Liga with Real Sociedad, was complimented with the signing of 22-year-old German Ter Stegen. While Ter Stegen will be given a chance to learn under the experienced head of Bravo, he will also getting playing time against certain opposition.

The Germany international has no discernible weaknesses except for one that he can't really do anything about, and that's his lack of experience and knowledge of Spanish football. The purchase of Bravo didn't raise too many eyebrows in comparison to the arrival of Luis Suarez, Mathieu and Ivan Rakitic, but the effect he might have on Barcelona's season could be far more resounding than one might think.

A goalkeeper's best years are said to be between 29 and 33, and the 31-year-old Bravo is perfectly poised to not only teach Ter Stegen, but become an important member of Barcelona's team, who are desperate in their search for silverware after a disappointing season under former Coach Tata Martino last year.

Ter Stegen's buyout clause is €80m and La Blaugrana were said to be following him for four years before pouncing. They have the very capable Bravo, who captained Chile at the World Cup and did an excellent job, to support the younger man throughout the period of development as he attempts to become not only Barcelona's No.1 but the world's best goalkeeper.

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