Ernesto Valverde lauds Marc-Andre Ter Stegen after goalkeeper helps Barcelona grab draw

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Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde admitted his side were indebted to the heroics of goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen after ‘suffering’ in the goalless Champions League opener at Borussia Dortmund.

The German had already been called upon once too often before making a remarkable double save following a penalty from Marco Reus, albeit appearing to be well off his line.

Dortmund also hit the crossbar through substitute Julian Brandt and on another night could easily have been on the end of a defeat from their opening Group F fixture.

Valverde gave 16-year-old Ansu Fati a first Champions League start, while Lionel Messi was brought on for the closing stages having recovered from a calf problem which had prevented him from playing so far this season.

Defender Jordi Alba, meanwhile, was forced off late in the first half with a suspected thigh injury.

Barcelona will next host Inter Milan on October 2, when the outlook could be more positive following what has been a testing start to the new campaign, with just two wins so far.

“It was a difficult game in a great atmosphere. We had to suffer a lot, especially after the break when we lost control and they were very dangerous,” said Valverde.

“We seemed dominant, but then we had three or four loose balls picked off us and Dortmund counter-attacked with their traditional speed, which they are very good at.

“Dortmund made it complicated for us, but fortunately Marc has been very good. We have to thank Marc for his outstanding saves. We have a great goalkeeper and we benefit from that.”

Valverde added at a press conference: “We suffered here, I have to admit – but we knew we would need to.”

Messi had little opportunity to make an impact on the final outcome, seeing his only real opportunity blocked deep into stoppage time.

Valverde admitted it would be a while before the Argentina playmaker was up to full speed again.

“He is like any player who has not done the pre-season. He has had to play a game at an incredible pace, which had already started – and he has done it just without preparation,” the Barcelona coach added.

“It is his first 30 minutes (of the new season), he has done enough.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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PSG star Neymar's Champions League ban cut to two games

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Paris St Germain forward Neymar has had his three-match Champions League ban for insulting match officials reduced to two games by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The 27-year-old was punished over social media comments made in the wake of his side’s controversial 3-1 home defeat by Manchester United in March which denied them a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

PSG challenged the decision and – after UEFA had initially dismissed the claim – the Ligue 1 champions appealed to CAS – who ruled on Tuesday that the Brazil international will now serve a two-match suspension.

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Barcelona to make late decision on Lionel Messi

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde will make a late decision on whether to include Lionel Messi for Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund.

The Argentinian star is yet to make an appearance this season having suffered a calf injury in August but travelled to Germany with his team-mates.

Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Valverde said: “We’ll decide tomorrow whether Messi is going to play. We weren’t sure a week ago, but there’s been a lot of progress.”

Valverde is considering starting Luis Suarez after he returned from his own injury problems with two goals as a substitute against Valencia in LaLiga on Saturday.

He must also decide whether to hand another start to 16-year-old wonderkid Ansu Fati, who could become the Champions League’s youngest ever goal scorer.

Fati became Barcelona’s youngest scorer when he netted against Osasuna prior to the international break and he followed up with a goal and an assist on his full debut against Valencia.

Valverde said: “We’re thrilled with Ansu Fati, but we all have to take care of him. If he plays tomorrow, it won’t be to break records, but rather because the team needs him.”

The clash will be the first in the Champions League between Dortmund and Barcelona, whose only previous meetings came in the UEFA Super Cup in 1997.

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