A topsy-turvy FC Barcelona travels to Balaídos to face Celta Vigo on Saturday in one of the most enticing clashes of the weekend. Barca is desperate to get back to winning ways in La Liga and push further up the table. Celta Vigo also is winless in their last 2 games and they would be hoping to change that in this game. This is the last game for both sides before the international break. As such, both sides will be looking to go into the break with a win.
Why should you be watching?
There is absolutely no reason to miss this one. FC Barcelona has gone from a team that everyone feared to a team against which the oppositions can now think of getting something from the game. Celta Vigo’s record against Barca is an added positive. FC Barcelona is going through a transition after the exit of Lionel Messi. And after the sacking of Ronald Koeman, Celta Vigo might just be the side that Barca would not want to face. On the other hand, it is the same story every season for Celta Vigo: showing a lot of promise but failing to deliver the results. Can this match prove to be the game-changer for either side? Nevertheless, it promises to be a mouth-watering tie and not worth missing.
It has been a disappointing start to the season for the home team. They currently are placed at 12th position managing to earn just 11 points from 36 available so far. Their recent form has been disheartening having just won 1 of their previous 5 fixtures. In his second season in charge, Coach Eduardo Coudet will be looking for a much-improved display against the Catalans. A positive result here could be a turning point in their dismal campaign till now. Having played their last 3 matches in a week’s span, Os Celestes have got a much-needed 5 days’ break to counter the fatigue and prepare for this clash. Considering the teams’ history, the hosts will give it their all to get 3 points from the tie.
Recent Form (La-Liga): DLWLL
FC Barcelona comes on the back of a narrow 1-0 victory against Dynamo Kyiv in their Champions League campaign. But, there is no doubt that they have been far from convincing this season. An apt justification for this is the departure of Lionel Messi. Having played 11 games so far, the visitors sit at 9th place with 16 points. Long-term injuries are not helpful either. Challenging for the title might seem a far cry at least now but nothing can be said for sure. It will be the last game of the Barca B team coach Sergi Barjuan who is currently in charge of the first team after the sacking of Ronald Koeman and as such he will looking to depart with a win. The news of Xavi might just provide the extra push to the team to help them get over the line.
Recent Form (La-Liga): DLLWL
Team News for Celta vs Barca
The hosts might field the same team that faced Rayo Vallecano in the previous match with a couple of changes. Dituro will start in the goal. Murillo and Araujo will form the backline alongside Hugo Mallo who will replace Kevin Vasquez at the right-back spot and Javier Galan. Renato Tapia is expected to play the role of holding midfielder. We might see the return of Nolito in place of Mendez in midfield along with Denis Suarez and Beltran. Iago Aspas will be back for this game after being given a rest in the previous game. He will be upfront along with Augusto Solari who will replace Santi Mina is out with a hamstring problem.
The visitors will be expected to make some changes to the team that defeated Dynamo earlier this week. MATS will start between the sticks. Ronald Araujo played 11 minutes in the last game but his availability for a full 90 is still under doubt. As such, Eric Garcia is expected to start in defense of Oscar Mingueza, Lenglet, and Alba. Nico might be rested for this one meaning Gavi shifting back to midfield alongside De Jong and Busquets. The injury of Ousmane Dembele is a big blow to the Blaugranas. Yusuf Demir might start upfront with Fati on the wings and Memphis Depay through the middle.
The last 5 games have been even for both the teams; 2 wins for both sides and a draw between them. In the previous meeting between both the sides at Camp Nou, Celta Vigo ended any remaining hopes of title for FC Barcelona beating them 2-1. Lionel Messi opened the scoring in the 28th minute before Santi Mina equalized 10 minutes later and then put his team ahead in the dying minutes of the game.
Players to Watch Out For
The 34-year Spain forward is a threat always. The numbers are not in his favor but he has always been in great form against Barcelona. He has scored 3 goals and bagged 1 assist in this campaign so far. He loves to carry the ball in the final third and is not afraid to shoot from a distance if provided an opportunity. If he hits his top form, it will be a daunting task to control him.
The ex-Barcelona midfielder has enjoyed his time in Celta colors. He can play either side of midfield giving an added advantage to the team. He is fond of occupying forward places in the final third during attacks. Denis is very much capable of delivering set pieces along with finding players between spaces. He will be looking to prove a point to his former team.
The midfielder will be very crucial for the hosts. He is very good on the ball and will be key when Celta decides to play out the back. He has also scored a couple of goals and also been providing good through balls, His heading ability might also help the hosts considering the vulnerability of Barca through set-pieces. But his main job will be to stop the opposition attacks and a lot will depend on his performance if Celta is to put a halt to the opposition’s assaults.
The new No. 10 for the team was the difference on Tuesday night scoring the only goal of the game. It is not easy to fill the boots of Lionel Messi as the new no. 10 but safe to say he has not disappointed. He can switch between wings and central striker on will. His pace might be very crucial in breaking a resilient Celta defense. He will once again look to take his team over the line and push them up the table.
It has been a stop-start beginning to Depay’s Barcelona career. The Dutch were prominent in the starting couple of games and at times, rescuing Barcelona. Since then, he has not been at his best. Having already notched up 5 goals and 2 assists so far, he will be looking to make a mark in this one. His sublime control and physicality might come in handy against a strongly built Celta defense.
The impact which the left-back has on the game is known to everyone. His runs down the left-hand side are sort of a tradition. He will once again be pivotal in most of Barca’s attacks. Not only for his attacking prowess but is his defensive track-backing also very commendable. The visitors will expect him to deliver a yet again solid performance and help the team get over the line.
It is a very tough fixture for both sides and given their history, it will be a surprise if any of the defense is able to keep a clean sheet. Celta Vigo will stick to counterattacks more often than not with the pace of Aspas and Solari ahead. Barcelona will be seen keeping most of the possession. However, after the first goal by either side, the game will become much open and it won’t be a one-goal affair. Here at Ball That Matters, we predict a tight 2-1 win for the away team.
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