Marc-Andre ter Stegen turned in a superb performance complete with heroics and splendid goal-saving stunts during normal playing time and the shootout to ensure Barcelona edged past Real Sociedad on penalties on Wednesday to reach the Supercopa de Espana final, with an injured Lionel Messi watching on the sidelines.
Frenkie de Jong’s header was equaled by a penalty from Mikel Oyarzabal, who later on missed in the shoot-out, with that being one of two crucial saves made by Ter Stegen before 21-year-old Riqui Puig sent the fifth and decisive penalty home.
“I wasn’t down to take one but we needed one more taker and I stepped forward,” said Puig.
Barca advance to meet either Real Madrid or Athletic Bilbao in the final on Sunday, when Messi is expected to be available again, although coach Ronald Koeman cautioned restraint at full-time.
“We have to wait,” he said.
Koeman’s team still have some obstacles to surmount in their La Liga title race but they are definitely improving, now with a nine-game unbeate stretch and with a trophy within their grasp.
This is the second year of the Spanish Super Cup’s new format, with four teams playing each other in a semi-final and final.
Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad joined after reaching the final of last season’s Copa del Rey, which is still to be played, while Barcelona finished runners-up to Madrid in La Liga.
Last season’s version in Saudi Arabia met with some controversy, and this year’s semis are in Cordoba and Malaga due to the pandemic, with the final to be played in Seville.