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2 Dec 2023

FC Barcelona might have to again put Inanki Pena as their goalkeeper against Atletico.

FC Barcelona could again lose Marc-Andre ter Stegen for Sunday's must-win clash against Atletico ... [+] Madrid.

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FC Barcelona appear to be on the brink of a huge absence from their La Liga match against Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

Goalkeeper and de facto captain Marc-Andre ter Stegen has not featured for his club since November 12, when he played a full 90 minutes in a 2-1 home win over Almeria.

The 31-year-old then went on international duty with his country Germany, but was sent back to Barcelona prematurely six days later after picking up a back injury.

Said knock has seen Ter Stegen sit out last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano plus the 2-1 victory versus Porto in the Champions League which guaranteed qualification to the knockout phase for the first time since 2021.

Inaki Pena has taken his place in the starting line up, and was excellent against the Portuguese by making a string of important stops.

"He was magnificent, not only in the saves [he made," remarked head coach Xavi Hernandez in a post-match interview with Movistar.

With the Champions League not returning until the week after next, Barca shift their focus back to the defense of their La Liga crown while currently languishing in fourth.

Back-to-back assignments against third-placed Atletico Madrid on Sunday and surprise second-placed Girona next Saturday await, and it appears that Xavi might not be able to call on Ter Stegen for at least the first of those must-win fixtures.

This is because contrary to expectations, Ter Stegen has still not trained with the rest of the group on Saturday with around 33 hours until kick off.

SPORT says that Ter Stegen is "almost ruled out" of the high-profile fixture, but MARCA reports that the locker room and club are "calm" about the potential development because of the trust they have in Pena.

Pena "has confirmed his great quality in the two games in which the German has been out due to low back pain," the Madrid-based daily newspaper writes, and the 24-year-old has another chance to impress between the sticks.

Whether Ter Stegen is really a no-go against the Colchoneros will be confirmed by the publishing of the squad list at some point this weekend.