Luis Enrique has a surprise up his sleeve for Saturday's visit to Sevilla: Claudio Bravo will start at the Sanchez Pizjuan. The Barcelona boss has decided to return the Chilean to the team after nearly a month on the sidelines. The fragility shown by Marc-Andre ter Stegen so far this season has convinced Luis Enrique to take this action -- he doesn't want the criticism of the German stopper to continue.
The Barcelona coach had the intention of making the change without any surprises and after a good performance from Ter Stegen, but the feeling of insecurity in defence at the moment has forced him to change his mind.
Bravo was the first choice in la Liga when the campaign kicked off, but a calf injury in training took him out of the picture.
With the Chilean in goal, Barça had exhibited great form in defence this season, much like last season, too. Prior to his injury, he had played in three complete games, one in the Super Cup (Athletic) and two in la Liga (Athletic and Malaga). In 270 minutes, he had conceded just one goal and the team had hardly suffered in defence.
His injury threw Ter Stegen into the side, who had already been blamed for the four goals conceded against Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup and the four leaked against Athletic in the Spanish Super Cup. One of those, Mikel San Jose's effort from the halfway line, was especially damaging.
Ter Stegen's first ever league game in a Barça shirt was the the Vicente Calderon and even though the team won, he was criticised for only half coming out for Fernando Torres's goal. Perhaps because it was raining and wet.
Things have not gone well since then: Florenzi's wonder goal for Roma; an error for Levante's goal at Camp Nou; the hammering against Celta Vigo; and the goal he never should have conceded against Bayer Leverkusen. It's provoked defensive instability and nerves in the stands.
The German didn't have much to do with the team's great performances last season, when he was part of the Copa del Rey and Champions League wins. So far this season, he has conceded more goals than in all of the last campaign. Last time out, he let in 16 goals in 21 games, while he's already let in 17 in just eight appearances this season.
Luis Enrique is aware that keeping Ter Stegen in goal could be bad for him. He wants to protect him from the critics and the re-appearance of Claudio Bravo gives him the chance to do so in the least traumatic way possible.