After winning their opening game handsomely at home, Barça now prepare to travel away for their first game away from the Camp Nou. The Catalans travel to Balaídos, in what has always proven to be a difficult trip over the years. Here’s the preview of the match between Celta Vigo and Barcelona.
Date and kick-off time: Thursday 01 October 2020, 21:30 CET
Stadium: Estadio de Balaídos
Competition: La Liga, matchday 4
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande
Ronald Koeman’s era at Barcelona began with a thumping win over Villarreal at the Camp Nou. The Catalans blew away the Yellow Submarine in the first half and saw through the rest of the game with ease. The lingering doubts of the fans over the team and the coach subsidised after the game. A new hope has emerged for this rebuild under Koeman. With Dest signing almost confirmed, the squad slowly starts to take shape despite a few deficiencies in some areas.
Now the Blaugranas get ready for yet another test in their bid for a revival campaign in LaLiga. Ronald Koeman faces his former teammate at Barcelona Óscar García in one of the toughest stadiums in the Division. Barcelona are winless at the stadium for six games running across all competitions.
Unlike the Catalans, Célticos have already played three games this season and are unbeaten till now. They have won a game and drawn twice as they still try to fix their lingering issues with their team. Celta have struggled for the last two seasons, barely escaping relegation finishing 17th on both occasions. With the team of their quality, they would be kicking themselves to pick up the pace and finish higher up the table.
La Liga clubs are warming up slowly and the start to the season has been offbeat. With three or four games in, none of the teams have maintained a 100% record except Barça and Sevilla who have played only one. Barça will look to build-up on the momentum of the previous game, while Celta will look to use their home advantage to maintain their unbeaten streak.
What to expect from Celta de Vigo?
Óscar García’s first match in charge of the Célticos was against Barcelona in the Camp Nou. Despite bringing it to the Catalans, the visitors lost the game 4-1. But, the reverse fixture saw them comeback twice during the game to draw which eventually led to Barça losing ground in the title race. On both occasions, the manager chose to go with a back-3 and will do the same this time around as well.
“We expect a difficult game from our opponent. Barça have a difficult history at the Balaídos. Celta possesses a great team so we must give our best in order to win the game.”Ronald Koeman
Celta Vigo’s attack will be led by Iago Aspas, who has been doing the same for years now. The Spaniard has a habit of stepping up in big games and has already kick-started his campaign with three goals. However, García will hope to have all the players contribute to the goal-scoring department to reduce the burden on the 33-year-old. While the creative force in the squad is brilliant, the finishing touches require some tinkering.
The quality of the squad in undeniable and García has been working on the collective effort of the team. With the wingbacks and their quick forwards, Celta can hope to attack Barça on the break. With the visitors pushing forward in numbers, during turnovers, Celta can create one-v-ones and can cause serious trouble. With a sturdy defence and an attack on its toes, Celta can certainly look for more than a point from this game.
What to expect from Barcelona?
Barcelona are coming into this game not only on the back of a win but a thorough and complete performance. The spirits are very high and understandably so. But, in football context matters. In the game vs Villarreal in the Camp Nou, the visitors pressed high and left lots of space between the lines. Barcelona’s attackers who specialise in these areas exploited this weakness with ease by playing out cleverly from the back. It was similar to the game last season, where Barça even while underperforming, comfortably beat Villarreal at the Ceramica.
In addition to Balaídos being a tricky stadium, Celta do not leave so much space between the lines. Barcelona will look to gain numerical superiority in both attack and defence, especially in the former. With Celta’s back three, and a lack of proper striker for the visitors, Barça need to overload their backline with their attackers without being vulnerable at the back. Pressing was intense and effective in the first game, and should continue in this game as well to avoid counters.
“There is no need to make any rotations for tomorrow’s game. This team should not play differently away from home. We should not play differently no matter where we are. We have a great team and we will see how the squad performs outside of the Camp Nou.”Ronald Koeman
With five substitutions available, and the players barely breaking a sweat the last game, no significant changes expected in the starting lineup. The lack of options in the fullback area seems to be of concern as Junior Firpo is not in the squad due to an injury. Barça only travel with two fullbacks. Braithwaite is back after recovering from a small setback, with Konrad and Mingo called up from the B-team other the usuals.
RC Celta de Vigo
Previous games: DWDDW
Real Valladolid 1–1 Celta de Vigo | La Liga
Celta de Vigo 2–1 Valencia | La Liga
Eibar 1–1 Celta de Vigo | La Liga
Celta de Vigo 1–1 Sporting Gijon | Club Friendly
Celta de Vigo 2–0 Lugo | Club Friendly
Position in La Liga
5 points in 3 games
1 win, 2 draw and 0 losses
3 Goals Scored, 2 Goals Conceded
+1 Goal Difference
Previous games: WWWW
Barcelona 4–0 Villarreal | La Liga
Barcelona 1–0 Elche | Joan Gamper Trophy
Barcelona 3–1 Girona | Club Friendly
Barcelona 3–1 Gimnastic| Club Friendly
Position in La Liga
3 points in 1 game
1 win, 0 draws and 0 losses
4 Goals Scored, 0 Goals Conceded
+4 Goal Difference
Last 5 meetings
Celta de Vigo 2–2 Barcelona | La Liga, 19/20
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
• Celta Vigo have scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 home matches against Barcelona in all competitions.
• Barcelona have won 5 of their last 6 matches (LaLiga).
• Celta Vigo are undefeated in their last 6 home matches against Barcelona in all competitions.
• Celta Vigo have failed to win 9 of their last 10 matches (LaLiga).
Team news and possible line-ups
RC Celta de Vigo
Injured: Sergio Álvarez, David Juncà, Rubén Blanco
Aidoo · Jeison Murillo · Araújo
Kevin Vázquez · Yokuşlu · Tapia · Olaza
Iago Aspas · Santi Mina
Coach: Óscar García
Injured: Samuel Umtiti (knee), Marc-André ter Stegen (Tendon), Junior Firpo
Roberto · Piqué · Lenglet · Jordi Alba
Frenkie de Jong · Busquets
Messi · Coutinho · Fati
Coach: Ronald Koeman
Barcelona and Koeman face their first big test of the season, as the result and performance in the fixture could determine a few things. That said, Barça do look in good shape and with the momentum, they could hopefully break a six-game winless streak at the Balaídos. The writer’s prediction for the game: 2-4 for the Catalans.
How should Barcelona Line-up against Real Madrid?
El Clasico: A term that sends shivers down the root of every football lover’s spine; an emotion that only football fans can relate to. The rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid has come a long way from its initial days. Through the decades, it has evolved to be known as the pinnacle of football. Undoubtedly, it is the one game in the world that every sports lover tunes in to relish, irrespective of their loyalties.
No doubt the Clasico peaked when it featured two of the greatest in the form of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, Culeés know the significance of the game beyond the individual scale. Violent splashes of paint often produce the best paintings. It is that masterpiece from which the spirit of the game ebbs out. Social, political, sporting, philosophical: endless are the reasons that make it the most relished rivalry in the sporting world.
And on Saturday, the world finally gets to witness the most awaited game of La Liga Santander. The defending champions Real Madrid travel to the Camp Nou to take on the mighty Catalans.
A forgettable season last time around saw the Blaugranas fail to register a win in either of the Clasicos. Nevertheless, do not dismiss that as any gauge of strength. If anything, it makes the fire more thirsty to suck in oil.
What to expect from Real Madrid?
The Clasico could not come at a worse time for Zinedine Zidane’s men. The last matchday of the league saw the defending champions bow down too newly promoted Cadiz in a 1-0 loss.
Rubbing salt in the wound was Los Blancos’ opening champions league fixture. On Wednesday, Real Madrid took on a Shakhtar Donetsk side that was missing 13 first team players through COVID-19. In a shocking turn of events, they found themselves 3-0 down at the half time and went on to lose the match 3-2.
Madrid are boosted by the return of captain Sergio Ramos. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)
Zidane has continuously played around with the formation based on the rotations. Unlike teams that decide players based on the system, the Frenchman has continued to tweak the approach to the players chosen. He started the season with a 4-2-3-1 against Real Sociedad, with Vinicius and Rodrygo to open up the left and right wings respectively. Though the wings were potent in attack, the team desperately missed the finishing touch. This prompted the Frenchman to introduce another target man, and he switched the system over to a 4-3-1-2 for the next two games.
Yet, on both occasions, Los Blancos were fortunate to get away with the win. Real Valladolid, in particular, terrorised Real Madrid’s right-wing, forcing Odriozola into multiple errors. The last few games have seen them revert to a 4-3-3, with Modric and Federico Valverde playing on an exceptionally high line.
For the Clasico, one could expect the Madrid based side to turn back to the 4-3-1-2. An overload in the midfield will trouble Barcelona’s double pivot and hinder their connection to the mediapunta. In the attack, Casemiro has dropped back to form a 3-man-defence, enabling the fullbacks to let loose. This trend will surely continue on Saturday. Furthermore, Federico Valverde and Luka Modric could start in midfield with the Brazilian, the former being in a more advanced role on the right side.
Real Madrid is still coming to terms with the absence of Dani Carvajal, and this has prompted Zidane to play Ferland Mendy out of position to cover up the gaping hole. Meanwhile, they seem to be hit with a new setback after Sergio Ramos appears to be doubtful for the Clasico. One would expect Marcelo to start against Barcelona on Saturday. However, it remains to be seen who starts at right-back. Undoubtedly, that will have to be the target to catch Los Blancos off guard for Koeman’s men.
How should Barcelona line-up?
The Catalans left-wing is undoubtedly their best chance to exploit their rivals’ weaknesses. There is hardly a speck of doubt that the 17-year-old Ansu Fati will get his first Clasico start on Saturday. The youngster’s terrifying pace and dribbling will be invaluable against a weakened right-back position. In the central attack, Lionel Messi will undoubtedly retain his place against his favourite opponents.
Will Koeman go down the path of youth over experience? (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
The right-wing is where it gets interesting, where Koeman has a plethora of options. The first name that comes to mind is that of Antoine Griezmann who didn’t play a single minute against Ferencvaros. That his confidence is dented is a well-known fact. Undoubtedly, the only way back to form is performing in the opportunities provided. Nevertheless, given the weight of the clash, playing a successfully tested option is a much better approach. It would be in the best interest of the club for the Frenchman to start on the bench. Ousmane Dembele showed his brilliance against the Hungarians and claimed stake over the starting role for the Clasico. However, his lack of match fitness is the one big card against him.
Bearing everything in mind, Fransisco Trincao may be the best option for the night. Against Ferencvaros, the young Portuguese winger injected life into the right flank, helping the team create equally on both sides. His presence will be crucial, with the use of Dembele as a super-sub.
In the Mediapunta role, we could well see Phillipe Coutinho start again as he looks to extend his great run of form. Going up head to head against his International teammate Casemiro will be a huge test for the Brazilian.
He will be supported in midfield by a double pivot that would most likely consist Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets. Though Miralem Pjanic had a promising game against Ferencvaros, everything indicates that Busquets was rested keeping the tight schedule in mind. With the Bosnian still not entirely fit, chances he starts are feeble.
In a massive boost for the team, Jordi Alba has been given the medical all-clear ahead of the Clasico. One would expect the Spaniard to resume duties on the left side, with a rather crucial role to play. On the other side, Sergi Roberto is predicted to start the game purely on the merit of experience. He has often shone against Los Merengues, and that could just provide the confidence boost he needs. Don’t count out of Sergino Dest, however, as he could be an invaluable substitute for the high profile clash.
Rushing Alba onto the pitch for the El Clasico may be a necessary step that Barcelona will have to take. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
In central defence, Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique will get the nod to start. Though Los Blancos have struggled in front of goal so far, the duo will have to be extremely cautious. With Marc-Andre ter Stegen still not back from injury, Neto will don the gloves on the big night.
As we have learnt from past years, form heading into the clash is no indicator of what is to come. Barcelona will have to work hard to churn out a favourable result. Nothing can be predicted; here are no favourites.
Roberto · Pique · Lenglet · Alba
Busquets · de Jong
Trincão · Coutinho · Fati