The scenes at Estadi Olimpic de Lluis Companys at full-time on Saturday were ecstatic. You couldn’t hear your own voice at Barcelona’s foster home, with players clearly still coming to terms with what they had just achieved.
The game was lost. Ten minutes from full-time, the Azulgranas were down by two goals and clueless.
What followed was unimaginable. Xavi’s men found the back of the net three times in a span of nine minutes to turn the tide around and take home the three points.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Barcelona 3-2 Celta Vigo.
The comeback Barcelona needed
Unlike Real Madrid who thrive under the pressure to score clutch goals, the Blaugranas have found the avenue difficult to conquer. In terms of mental resilience, they always have been at a relative disadvantage.
That is what makes wins like last night’s vital. Coming back from two goals down to win the game late on provides reassurance to Xavi’s men that they are capable of turning games around even from a lost position.
As the team head deeper into the season, especially in the UEFA Champions League, it is wins like this that will provide the team fortitude through different times.
Barcelona were completely outplayed for the opening 80 minutes against Ceta Vigo. They may have had the lion’s share of possession, but the Galician team created most of the dangerous attacks on the counter.
On another night, Barcelona should have been four goals down by the 80th minute.
With their backs against the wall, they found the resources to capitalise on the smallest of opportunities. Be it Joao Felix, Joao Cancelo, Robert Lewandowski, or Gavi – they all enabled the comeback only through a surgeon’s precision with every pass in the final 10 minutes.
The win may not have been pretty, but it was perfect.
A massive part of the credit, needless to say, falls to Robert Lewandowski who hit the bullseye twice under pressure. The best striker in the world irrespective of his age.
Exploited down the flanks
Celta Vigo got their game plan against the hosts spot-on, for Xavi’s men looked lost for ideas for large parts of the game.
While Barcelona struggled to create anything meaningful in the final third, Celta were incisive in attack. Their every venture into Barcelona’s area created an opening to score, and a large part of it was down to the Catalan fullbacks.
Xavi opted to deploy Marcos Alonso and Joao Cancelo last night, with both full-backs pushing high up in attack. The space they left behind them was the root cause of Celta’s vicious counters.
Alonso, in particular, was horrendous in defence and relatively bland in attack. In fact, the dynamic of the game shifted once Balde came on.
Cancelo was poor in defence as well, but more than made up for his errors by assisting Lewy’s equaliser and scoring the winning goal. A gem in attack.
The team needs a more sustained solution
As Robert Lewandowski rightly pointed out in his post-match interview with ESPN, Barcelona struggled to create openings against Celta Vigo’s low block last night.
Rafael Benitez deployed a five-man defensive line to create a roadblock to the hosts’ buildup. Barça, in turn, could not capitalise on the spaces Celta left free.
As the Pole pointed out, however, this is not the first or the last time Barcelona will face such disciplined defensive lines.
It has been a growing trend to park the bus against the Catalans in recent years, and Xavi must find a sustained solution to the same.
Pedri’s return will go a long way in helping the team’s cause creatively. Yet, it is clear that the Catalans need to find quicker passes and combinations in the final third to alleviate the problem.
It will thus be interesting to see how the manager sorts out the situation in the games to come. After all, this will be a repeating theme through the remainder of the campaign.