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Celta Vigo vs Barcelona: Match Preview

Hariharan Balaji

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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.

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Match Previews

Predicted Barcelona lineup against Elche

Adithya Eshwarla

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Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

The Copa del Rey game was an eye-opener in ways unimaginable. On the one hand, it brought some amazing takeaways. One such was the performance of Ronald Araujo, who has now not been dribbled past in his last 10 appearances.

At the same time, however, it bright to light some worrying signs. The youngsters given a chance failed to grab it tightly. The finishing was beyond poor. What more can be said of a night where the Catalans failed to score two penalties. At the end of the day, it once again required two assists from Pedri and a moment of brilliance from Dembele to take the Catalans home.

Barcelona’s tenure away from the Camp Nou goes on as they now move to the Estadio Martinez Valero. Ronald Koeman’s side now faces Elche, the 18th placed side in the Spanish top tier. Here is how Barcelona can lineup against Elche, as Ronald Koeman prepares yet another game with an unstable XI.

Defence

After a deserved rest in the Copa del Rey, Marc-Andre ter Stegen will be back in duty for the Blaugranas. The German was absolutely stellar for his side in the Super Cup and will look to produce more of his magic.

Ronald Araujo’s growth as a defender can just be described as meteoric. The trajectory of the young defender is mindblowing, as he continues producing 10/10 performances game after game. He will be in the heart of defence on the night, with Clement Lenglet by his side.

There is no replacing Araujo in the Barcelona lineup against Elche. (Photo via Getty)

Sergi Roberto and Sergino Dest are both very close to their respective returns. However, we are likely to see Oscar Mingueza get a successive start at Right-back against Elche. The Spaniard has been solid in defence, and that is all is expected from a part-time full-back.

Junior Firpo started the game against Cornella but contributed very little. Hardly anything to convince the manager. That said, Jordi Alba, himself is coming off a terrible performance in the final of the Super-cup. The Spaniard will undoubtedly start, but will he impress?

Midfield

Sergio Busquets will start the night as the defensive midfielder in the 4-3-3 setup. Though maybe not his best, his performance has seen a massive spike since the formation change. He will be a crucial factor on the night, given Jorge Almiron’s rather attack-minded setup.

Frenkie de Jong has been by far the most consistent midfielder for Barcelona, and his ability to decide games is finally getting the limelight it deserves. Just over the last month, the Dutch protege has grown in leaps and bounds. He will be a crucial part of the team on Sunday.

An impressive cameo in midweek means Pedri will return to the Barcelona lineup vs Elche. (Photo via Imago)

As one talks of prodigies, Pedri is the next biggest name to pop up. Coming on as a substitute, the youngster contributed to both of Barcelona’s goals in extra time, almost single-handedly setting up the second. Pedri is wise beyond his years, and it doesn’t take more than the naked eye to see that he is something special. He will round up the midfield for the League game.

Attack

Lionel Messi continues to serve his ban and misses the trip to Elche. That said, the onus is once again on Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Greizmann to step up. The French duo is expected to start, on the left-wing and right-wing respectively.

Dembele was the man who made the difference in the cup game. The ease with which he nets bangers doesn’t quite match his inability to finish chances on a platter. He will be looking to make the most of his chance to impress in the hope he can bag a contract extension soon, and end all rumours of his departure.

Braithwaite contributes in more than one way to the Barcelona setup. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Martin Braithwaite will round up the starting XI. Amidst all the confusion, the Dane continues to work at his highest rate to contribute to the team. Though his quality can be doubted, his commitment cannot. He netted the second goal against Cornella in a neat fashion. Once again, he hopes to be on the scoresheet on Sunday.

Griezmann · Braithwaite · Dembele
Pedri · Busquets · de Jong
Alba · Lenglet · Araujo · Mingueza
ter Stegen

Substitution

Konrad de le Fuente impressed mightily in his time on the field against Cornella. His performance will surely seed the possibility of his getting more minutes in the League.

Riqui Puig could have made so much more of his chance to impress, but just couldn’t show his magic on the night. However, his quality off the bench cannot be doubted. It is a real possibility for him to see minutes on the night.

Miralem Pjanic dictated the midfield neatly in the previous game. He could feature towards the latter half of the game in place of Sergio Busquets.

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