- Copy link
Having mathematically secured their place in next season’s Champions League, there is still another major objective for FC Barcelona to achieve in the league. Second place would mean joining champions Real Madrid and Copa del Rey finalists Real Betis and Valencia at the Spanish Super Cup.
With just three games to go, Barça are four points clear of Sevilla and five ahead of Atlético Madrid, so they have everything in their favour to make sure of a trip to Saudi Arabia next January.
The first of those games is a Tuesday night fixture at home to Celta (9.30pm CEST). It's a good day for Barça. The team has not lost any of its last 32 league games played on a Tuesday!
Barça’s rivals in the hunt for the remaining Super Cup berth both play on Wednesday. Sevilla host Mallorca at 8.30pm CEST, and Atlético Madrid are at Elche in a 9.30pm CEST kick-off.
After an awful start to 2021/22, the side coached by Eduardo Coudet eventually started picking up points. Their 4-0 devouring of Alavés at the weekend continued their improved form in the last few weeks, but although it’s too late for any thought of Europe next season, at least they have no relegation issues to worry about.
For Barça fans, the most familiar faces in the visiting squad are former blaugranas Denis Suárez and Nolito, as well as Colombian Jeison Murillo who spent part of 2019 on loan at Camp Nou.
Head to head
Although there have been cases of Barça running away with this fixture (6-1 in 2016, 5-0 in 2017 and 5-0 in the cup in 2018), the last fifteen league meetings have also seen Celta get five wins, just one fewer than Barça in the same period.
They’re very much Barça’s bogey team of late, and have even won twice at Camp Nou, 1-0 in 2014 when goalkeeper Sergio Álvarez was simply extraordinary, and 2-1 last May, when Santi Mina scored twice to cancel out Leo Messi’s opener.
Iago Aspas, who has an alarming knack of finding the net against the Catalans, has a lot do with that. He has scored nine in total, and did it not once but twice in an extraordinary game at Balaidos in the reverse fixture played last November. Barça led 3-0 at half time with goals from Ansu Fati, Sergio Busquets and Memphis, yet the sky blues managed to fight back for a 3-3 draw in the second half. Aspas' second goal was an equaliser in the sixth minute of extra time.
Sergiño Dest, Gerard Piqué, Nico, Pedri and Sergi Roberto all miss the game through injury, while Sergio Busquets is serving a suspension.
Also included in the squad is 21-year-old midfielder Jandro Orellana. It’s not the first time the Barça B player from Gava, a town just down the coast from Barcelona, has been named in a first team squad. Quique Setién once called him up for a Champions League game.
"Celta have done what they needed to do so they are under no pressure. Denis, Iago, Brais... They have good players and it’ll be a big test. But we need to clinch second place and we’ll need to play better to make sure of that.”
“The idea to is to do more good things than bad things and we are giving the ball away far too much … It is not about whether I am successful or not, it is about whether Barça is.”
"There is no direct replacement for Busquets so he’s a big loss. We won’t have him forever so we need to think about who will take his place.”
“Ansu Fati is back at 100%, but we still have to take precautions. We have a plan to make sure we don’t over-burden him and giving him 90 minutes would be too much of a risk at this stage.”
“We have missing players, which I was why I called up Jandro. He is one of us, polished, dynamic, he can play wide or in the middle.”
- Copy link