Barcelona’s final game of the season is on the road at a stadium that has not been their best getaway in recent years. Of their last eight games at Municipal de Balaidos, the Blaugranas have drawn four times and lost thrice.
Their opponents, Celta Vigo, have been far from their best this season. Yet, Xavi Hernandez’s men could only manage a narrow 1-0 win over the Galicians when they met earlier this season.
One can expect a hard-fought game on Sunday night, especially given that Celta risk being relegated if they drop points. After all, they are just a point clear of 18th-placed Real Valladolid.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Celta Vigo vs Barcelona.
1. A story of endings and beginnings
There was no shortage of storylines when Barcelona took on Mallorca last weekend. The last game at Spotify Camp Nou not only marked the end of an era in terms of the stadium but also for the Blaugrana team as a whole.
Both Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba walked off to thunderous applause on the night as they emotionally made their way off the pitch for the final time as Barcelona players. The veteran stars will leave at the end of the season and thus begins a new chapter in the story of the Catalan kings.
Xavi’s side now have no members remaining from the golden team of the last decade. All there remains now is a group of young prodigies who wish to touch the stars, and in the process, engrave their names in the world of football.
Busquets and Alba will not play a part in Sunday night’s clash against Celta Vigo and have not been named in the squad. The game at Municipal de Balaidos, thus, marks the beginning of a new era.
Alejandro Balde is Jordi Alba’s true heir but will be unavailable for the game against the Galician side. Marcos Alonso appears best placed to fill the void at left-back for tomorrow’s game.
The question of Busquets’ successor, however, is unclear. Xavi has it as his priority to sign a new pivot in June, and Frenkie de Jong could feature as a standby cover for the veteran for the final game of the season.
2. The chance to make history
Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been one of, if not the most in-form Barcelona player this year. The German’s place in the team was questioned by many pundits not too long ago, but he has well and truly turned his situation around over the past year.
Ter Stegen has all but sealed the first Zamora trophy of his career and his numbers back his claim. The 31-year-old has maintained 26 clean sheets in 37 league appearances so far, conceding just 17 goals in that duration.
Yet, there is another objective for the German international come Sunday night.
The best-ever record for clean sheets in La Liga history ahead of the 2022-23 season was against the name of Francisco Liano for his 1993-93 spell at Deportivo La Coruna. Ter Stegen has as many this season with a game to spare.
A clean sheet on Sunday will give the shot-stopper an exclusive column in the history books. Moreover, it would also give the team a place in the records charts with the joint-fewest goals conceded in a season at 18 goals.
3. Objective Pichichi
Robert Lewandowski continues to be one of the best strikers in the modern game. The Polish international may have had his scoring droughts during the season, but his impact in just his first season at the club has been immense.
Since signing for Barcelona last summer, the striker has found the back of the net on 33 occasions. 23 of his goals have come in La Liga, five in the UEFA Champions League, two each in the Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana, and one in the UEFA Europa League.
As it stands, the former Bayern Munich forward stands atop the La Liga goalscoring charts. The next-highest scorer, Karim Benzema, has 18 scalps to his name.
With just 90 minutes of football left to play for both contenders, the Pichichi title appears to be safe in Lewandowski’s closet. After all, the five-goal deficit is too big a gap to bridge in one game, even for a player of Benzema’s standards.