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On Sunday at 6.30pm CEST, FC Barcelona host Celta in the final game of the season at Camp Nou. In theory, they are still in the hunt for the Liga title, but after drawing 3-3 with Levante on Tuesday, and with Atlético and Real Madrid both winning their fixtures, the hopes of that actually happening have practically dwindled to nothing.
Indeed, if Atlético win their game at home to Osasuna (which is being played at the same time), then it will be impossible for Barça to catch them on the final day.
Barça need to win both their remaining games and hope that Atlético get no more than one point out of their own two fixtures. A tall order. And even if that happens, they would also need Real Madrid to lose a game too.
In all reality, it’s a lost cause. But there is no use throwing in the towel. All Barça can do is go out and win this one and who knows? Maybe, just maybe…
After an awful start to the season, and when Celta hit rock-bottom of the table, former Barça man Óscar García was relieved of his duties as head coach. Their form picked up when Eduardo Coudet took over in December. But it didn’t last. Just three wins in sixteen games sent them hurtling back down to mid-table.
However, they are now back up to eighth after winning four games in a row.
As usual it’s Iago Aspas who is leading the goalscoring with 13, but Santi Mina is close behind with 10 and former Barça man Nolito has seven.
He’s not the only familiar face who will be returning to Camp Nou. Denis Suárez. David Juncà and Colombian defender Jeison Murillo also have pasts at FC Barcelona.
Head to head
Barça have only lost one of their last ten meetings in all competitions with Celta, a 2-0 defeat at Balaidos in 2019, but they are a team that has typically given the Catalans a hard time over the years.
The 4-3 defeat in 2016, the 4-1 loss in 2015 and frustration last season when Aspas scored late to grab a 2-2 draw are other bitter memories of trips to Galicia.
It is not unknown for Celta to collect points at Camp Nou either, and in 2015 they came away with a 1-0 win, but last season Barça won this fixture comfortably enough, 4-1, thanks to a hat-trick from Leo Messi and one from Sergio Busquets.
The reverse fixture earlier this season was a happy story too. Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and an own goal produced a 3-0 victory.
Ronald Koeman will not be announcing his squad until after the warm-up session on Sunday morning.
However, in addition to long-term absentees Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho, Sergi Roberto has been added to the casualty list after picking up a hamstring injury against Levante.
Frenkie de Jong sits this one out through suspension and Oscar Mingueza has rejoined the Barça B squad this weekend to help them with a crucial promotion playoff against UCAM Murcia.
"We know we only have a tiny chance of winning the league but as long as it’s still possible we just have to keep winning and hoping.”
"I wouldn’t say we threw away the league. If you think that we were 13 points behind and about the way we fought our way back… Real and Atlético were dropping points too. But we wasted a great opportunity against Granada, that is true.”
"I’m not disappointed with my players. It’s been a hard season and five or six of them played 35-40 games. I tried to get the best out of them and the fans will agree that we had some fantastic games. In some games we weren’t at our best but as a unit we have a future. If we can add the right signings I have high hopes for this team next season.”
"I don’t feel like I’ve been treated well this last fortnight. You can’t base a whole season on two weeks. You have to think about the cup, they players. In the media they’re saying we were poor, but I don’t think so.”
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