Off-pitch dramas aside, Barça’s focus must now be on the next game as they travel to Balaídos. The Catalans take on a reinvigorated Celta in the 32nd matchday of La Liga. Here’s the preview of the match between Celta de Vigo and Barcelona.
Date and kick-off time: Saturday, 27 June 2020, 16:00 CET
Stadium: Estadio Municipal de Balaídos, Vigo
Competition: La Liga, matchday 32
Referee: Guillermo Cuadra Fernández
Barcelona still find themselves second to Real Madrid, as both clubs won their respective fixtures on the last matchday. With seven games remaining, Barça should not lose hope and continue to do their job, which is to win all the remaining encounters. Winning the contest against Athletic Club de Bilbao was essential to get back the momentum they lost. Despite being static and passive for most of the match, the substitutions worked, and Barça got that all-important goal courtesy of Iván Rakitic.
“We will only beat Barça with a perfect game”
The Catalans move forward, as they gear up to travel to Vigo, to face an in-form Celta de Vigo. While the hosts struggled in the relegation zone before the break, they have been racking up crucial points since the league resumed. In the four games, they have two wins, one draw, and a lone loss. The reverse fixture between the two was the first game under Óscar García Junyent for the Célticos, as Lionel Messi’s hat-trick trumped them.
While Barcelona’s objectives for the game already set, Celta de Vigo’s is to get maximum possible points out of the game. The more points they get, the farther they move away from the dreaded drop zone and don’t have to go through the struggle they did the last term. Barça, by no means, should underestimate Celta, who are a team with immense quality and potential to succeed.
What to expect from Celta de Vigo?
Celta de Vigo are a squad with quality in their ranks in all departments. Simply put, it baffles La Liga fans how they seem to struggle in the relegation zone. Now, they seem to have struck their cord and are in a slightly comfortable 16th in the table. They have made a lot of signings this season, to counter their significant departures. Celta even have levelled up with Barça by signing an emergency replacement in Nolito, after their keeper Sergio Álvarez got injured.
The arrival of Nolito, along with winter signings like Jeison Murillo and Fyodor Smolov have bolstered their roster significantly. Former Barça players, Rafinha Alcântara, loaned, and Denis Suárez have been some of their best performers this season. Iago Aspas undoubtedly leads the scoring charts for them with Rafinha and Santi Mina chipping in. Denis Suárez leads their assist rankings.
Ex-Barcelona player and La Masía manager Óscar García has not been consistent with the formations. He has switched things up with either a three-man backline or the traditional four-man defence. The team has grown a lot under the Spanish tactician, adding to their already underlying quality. They create better chances now, are defensively solid, and have a genuine chance finishing midtable. Much similar to the reverse fixture, expect Óscar to go with a back three with wing-backs stretching the field, and players like Rafinha operating as interiors.
Without Lucas Olaza, David Juncà and captain Hugo Mallo, Celta have problems at left-back | Photo by Imago
The problem with them is that their two main left-backs, Lucas Olaza and David Juncà, are injured, and so is right-back Hugo Mallo, who could act there too. So, either they transform a centre-back or another player into that position, or they use Celta B’s José Fontán, a natural centre-back who has been deployed at left-back too. Tragically for them, the man they will have to face on that flank may be none other than Lionel Messi.
What to expect from Barcelona?
With every passing game, it gets increasingly evident that Barcelona lack in the department of chance creation. The lack of pace upfront, the nature of the attackers to move centrally, and the complete lack of width in the attack are some visible problems. In the last game against Athletic Club de Bilbao, the star-studded trio comprised of Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Antoine Griezmann started the match and made the team’s attack compact, less mobile and simple to defend.
Suárez, coming from the injury, has been out of touch and out of pace. The zones of Messi, Suárez and Griezmann overlap, resulting in a more central attack, thereby reducing the passing options for the midfielders. Due to the lack of movement and no potential out ball options, Messi tries to take on the defenders, resulting in the opponents over-crowding him. While it might work in some cases, Barcelona cannot depend on the Argentine as their only source of attacking inspiration.
Barcelona’s squad list for the game between Celta Vigo and Barcelona
However, the team that finished the game against Athletic looked like the perfect mix of pace, width and creativity. After that impressive performance, both youngsters Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig should be in contention for the starting spots. With Sergio Busquets suspended and Frenkie de Jong injured, Puig has a real chance to start a crucial away game. Senior players like Suárez, Messi and Gerard Piqué should not be overplayed with matches every three days.
On the bright side, Barça have managed to keep five clean sheets in a row, in a season defined by their ineffective defence. All the possession has resulted in the Catalans being more sturdier at the back.
RC Celta de Vigo
Last 5 games: WWDLD
Real Sociedad 0–1 Celta de Vigo | La Liga
Celta de Vigo 6–0 Deportivo Alavés | La Liga
Real Valladolid 0–0 Celta de Vigo | La Liga
Celta de Vigo 0–1 Villarreal | La Liga
Getafe 0–0 Celta de Vigo | La Liga
Position in La Liga
33 points in 31 games
7 wins, 12 draws, 12 losses
29 Goals Scored, 35 Goals Conceded
–6 Goal Difference
Celta are in their best form of the season | Photo by Lalo R. Villar / Cordon Press via Imago
Last 5 games: WDWWW
Barcelona 1–0 Athletic Club de Bilbao | La Liga
Sevilla 0–0 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 2–0 Leganés | La Liga
Mallorca 0–4 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 1–0 Real Sociedad | La Liga
Position in La Liga
68 points in 31 games
21 wins, 5 draws and 5 losses
70 Goals Scored, 31 Goals Conceded
+39 Goal Difference
Last 5 meetings
Barcelona 4–1 Celta de Vigo | La Liga, 19/20
Celta de Vigo 2–0 Barcelona | La Liga, 18/19
Barcelona 2–0 Celta de Vigo | La Liga, 18/19
Celta de Vigo 2–2 Barcelona | La Liga, 17/18
Barcelona 5–0 Celta de Vigo | Copa del Rey, 17/18
• Barcelona have managed to keep a clean sheet in their last five La Liga games
• Celta de Vigo have kept a clean sheet in six of their last seven matches
• Celta come from winning two consecutive La Liga games for the first time since 8 December 2018
• There have been under 1.5 goals scored in six of Celta Vigo’s last seven games in La Liga
• The hosts are undefeated in their last five home matches against Barcelona in all competitions
Team news and possible line-ups
RC Celta de Vigo
Injured: Sergio Álvarez, David Juncà, Hugo Mallo, Fran Beltrán, Lucas Olaza
Aidoo · Araújo · Jeison Murillo
Kevin Vázquez · Yokuşlu · Bradarić · José Fontán
Rafinha · Denis Suárez
Coach: Óscar García
“Celta have skillful attackers who know what to do with the ball. The game will be complicated”
Injured: Ousmane Dembélé ( hamstring ), Frenkie de Jong ( calf ), Sergi Roberto ( rib fracture )
Suspended: Sergio Busquets
Semedo · Piqué · Lenglet · Jordi Alba
Vidal · Rakitić · Puig
Messi · Griezmann · Ansu Fati
Coach: Quique Setién
The reverse fixture between the two, despite the 4–1 scoreline, was far from easy for Barcelona. Óscar García came in prepared for that game, his first in charge, and will do so for this as well. The four games after the break have highlighted the weakness of the blaugranas, and the former Barça man will use that against them. However, having learnt from the mistakes, if Quique Setién approaches the game with a better-attacking structure, Barcelona have a more genuine chance of winning. The writer’s prediction: 1–3 win for the Catalans.
Preview: Barcelona’s strongest XI against Real Madrid
The title race is well and truly wide open. With Atletico Madrid still leaking points and Real Madrid trying to cope up with the tight schedule the Champions League brings with it, Barcelona would hope to be the favourites.
Barcelona travels to Madrid to face a team missing some big names. Sergio Ramos, Rafael Varane, Eden Hazard and Daniel Carvajal all miss out on the decisive clash. Nevertheless, if Los Blancos‘ performance against Liverpool is anything to go by, El Clasico will be a battle to remember. Meanwhile, Barcelona will once again have the services of Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto.
The result on Saturday will count for so much in the title race. In this creme-de-la-creme of clashes, here is how Barcelona could lineup against Real Madrid.
Marc Andre ter Stegen is always the first name on the list for Ronald Koeman. At the Alfredo de Stefano, the German wall will don the gloves and aim to keep the Madrid attack at bay.
Gerard Pique finds himself back in the Squad, however, it seems unlikely he will be given a start considering lack of match fitness. The three-man defence system has worked wonders for the Catalans, and Koeman will not look to change the system. A trio of Ronald Araujo, Oscar Mingueza, and Clement Lenglet could possibly start on Saturday.
Oscar Mingueza has been rock solid and on a constant rise. With every passing game, the youngster’s confidence grows, and so does the performance. Meanwhile, Clement Lenglet had a tremendous game against Real Valladolid, hardly placing a foot wrong. The Frenchman finally looks to be hitting his stride. Ronald Araujo is fit and ready to start once again and will have to be the leader on the field on the night.
The midfield is where the game will be won or lost for Barcelona. The hosts boast of one of the most fearsome trios in midfield, who reiterated their greatness against Liverpool midweek.
Up against Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, it will be crucial for Frenkie de Jong to start in midfield. The Dutchman is one of the best in the business in controlling the tempo of the midfield.
The No.21 will be accompanied by Barcelona’s veteran maestro Sergio Busquets. Busquets will account for so much of controlling the midfield. Moreover, his distribution and defensive contributions will be invaluable.
Pedri will complete the midfield alongside the others. The recently internationally capped Spaniard will have to be on the top of his game at the di Stefano. He will be the fulcrum of Barcelona’s creative outlet.
Sergino Dest did face stagnation in performance last month. In the last few games, however, there has been a resurgence. The USMNT fullback has been more lively than ever in attack and has been completing take-one for fun. It will be crucial for him to exploit the right-wing on the night.
Jordi Alba will unsurprisingly continue to start at left wing-back. With Real Madrid being weakened at right-back, Alba will have his chance on a platter to once again come up trumps.
Ousmane Dembele has often been Koeman’s go-to option as a central player in the new formation. Once again, a two-man forward line could see the Frenchman return to duties in the front line.
Lionel Messi had a relatively quiet game against Valladolid, his first one in 2021. However, he will look to step up on the biggest stage in El Clasico, as he always does. The Argentine has been at the peak of his powers this year, and he could inspire the side to another title with a great game tonight.
Dembele · Messi
Alba · Pedri · Busquets · de Jong · Dest
Lenglet · Araujo · Mingueza
Antoine Griezmann, who recently welcomed his third child, will be more motivated than ever to return to his peak powers. The Frenchman undoubtedly has a celebration or two in store for the latest member of his family and will hunt for a chance to showcase it on Saturday.
Fransisco Trincao could come on for Ousmane Dembele late in the second half to bring in fresh legs. His intricate dribbling could prove invaluable on the night.
Ilaix Moriba could be utilized to ramp up the pressure in the midfield, while Riqui Puig is bound to get a few minutes as well.