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Celta Vigo vs Barcelona: Match Preview

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Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

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


Overview

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. 


Form

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

7th
5 points in 3 games
1 win, 2 draw and 0 losses
3 Goals Scored, 2 Goals Conceded
+1 Goal Difference

FC Barcelona

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

10th 
3 points in 1 game
1 win, 0 draws and 0 losses
4 Goals Scored, 0 Goals Conceded
+4 Goal Difference

Head-to-head record

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


Match facts

• 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

Absences

Injured: Sergio Álvarez, David Juncà, Rubén Blanco
Suspended: None

Possible line-up

3–4–1–2
Villar
Aidoo · Jeison Murillo · Araújo
Kevin Vázquez · Yokuşlu · Tapia · Olaza
Brais Méndez 
Iago Aspas · Santi Mina
Coach: Óscar García

FC Barcelona

Absences

Injured: Samuel Umtiti (knee), Marc-André ter Stegen (Tendon), Junior Firpo
Suspended: None

Possible line-up

4–2–3–1
Neto
Roberto · Piqué · Lenglet · Jordi Alba
Frenkie de Jong · Busquets
Messi · Coutinho · Fati
Griezmann
Coach: Ronald Koeman


Predictions

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.

I got into watching football for the emotions of it. A goal followed by a crazy celebration from the player gave me goosebumps. But, watching the beautiful game over the years, I realised it was much more than just goals. The passing, the movements, the positioning and the effort involved behind the scenes opened my eyes to what football was. I keep trying to learn more about this incredible game and pass on what I learnt with a tinge of passion attached to it.