PREVIEW | FC Barcelona v Celta Vigo

PREVIEW | FC Barcelona v Celta Vigo

Following the setback in the Champions League, it's back to La Liga in search of a sixth win in a row

Following a midweek setback in the Champions League, FC Barcelona are back at Spotify Camp Nou on Sunday at 9pm CEST to continue what has thus far been a fabulous start to the Liga.

Xavi Hernández and his men will be looking to claim their sixth win in a row. The team that will be trying to make sure that doesn’t happen is Celta Vigo, a side who have been no strangers to upsetting the Catalans in recent years.

The Galicians won this fixture two seasons ago, also last term the Catalans got their revenge with Memphis and Aubmeyang (2) scoring in a fairly comfortable 3-1 victory. The Galicians have got off to a mixed start in their own campaign, but the 1-0 defeat of high-flying Real Betis at Balaidos last week has lifted them to eleventh in the table.

The game also means a potential re-encounter with no fewer than three former FC Barcelona players: Denis Suárez, Carles Pérez and the most recent of the trio to depart Catalonia, Òscar Mingueza. Welcome back to all three!


Team news

After playing the first few fixtures with a practically full-strength squad, the injury problems have started mounting at Barça. Ronald Araujo, Jules Koundé, Memphis and Hector Bellerín will all miss their third game in a row. And now both Franck Kessié (adductor) and Andreas Christensen (sprained ankle) have been added to the list of casualties.

There was some good news this week, however, for Frenkie de Jong was back training with his team-mates and has been included in the squad.

Providing cover for so many injuries are defensive midfielder Marc Casadó, and Mallorca-born Moroccan Chadi Riad, a centre-back who has played for the first team before, against Ibiza in the Copa del Rey two years ago.

How it stands

Barça’s 1-0 victory in Mallorca, coupled with Real Madrid only being able to draw at home to Osasuna, means that for the first time in over two years, Barça went back on top of the Liga table.

Real Madrid regained their lead on Saturday night with a 1-0 win at Getafe, Eder Militao scoring the only goal of the game in the third minute. But a win for Barça on Sunday night would restore their position at the top.

There are two crunch games coming up for Barça immediately after this one. On Wednesday there is a must-win Champions League fixture against Inter, and the weekend after brings El Clásico at the Santiago Bernabéu. But Xavi will know more than anyone that the game that matters most is always the next one – and that’s Celta.

Did you know?

This game pits the top goalscorer in La Liga (Robert Lewandowski) against the third highest (Iago Aspas). The Celta striker is matched with Diego Forlán for the highest number of goals scored against Barça this century, ten. One more would make him the outright leader.

If Lewandowski scores, it will be an amazing tenth goal in the first eight games of the season. He wouldn’t be the first player to that though. Lionel Messi did it three times, and Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa and Radamel Falcao scored 10 in 8 too.

Barça are looking to complete a remarkable sixth consecutive clean sheet in La Liga.

Games between Barça and Celta tend to be entertaining affairs. The last eight meetings at Spotify Camp Nou have produced an average of four goals each.

It was only 17 months ago, but Fran Beltrán and Iago Aspas are the only members of the current Celta squad that featured in the team's 2-1 win in Barcelona in 2021.

Xavi says

"We'll play our strongest eleven. We always think about tiredness and fitness, but we're not thinking about Inter, we're thinking about still being top of the table at the end of the season. Then we'll think about Inter."

"We need to shoot more, take more risks, take players on. We need to be self-critical and realise that we didn't play well against Mallorca or in Milan."

"We can't rely on Lewandowski alone for goals. We need to improve our free kicks, shots from outside the area, our crossing... Everyone should be trying to score goals."

"Frenkie is 100 per cent but we will decide tomorrow whether to play him. He could even play at centre back. We've used him there before. But he's not the only option."

"We defend as a unit not man-to-man, so there will no special attention to Iago Aspas. But he's a decisive player. I like him a lot."


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