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Barça have collected three more points to stay top of the league table, having only conceded one goal in eight matches, thanks to a 1-0 victory over Celta in front of another 80,000+ crowd at the Spotify Camp Nou.
But this was very much, as the old cliché goes, a game of two halves. Barça utterly mastered the first half and really should have had more than the single goal they had to show for it.
Yet in a somewhat unexpected turn of affairs, it was Celta that were totally on top when the action resumed after the break, and Barça breathed a huge sigh of relief when the final whistle blew.
They took the lead on 17 minutes when neither defender Unai Núñez nor goalkeeper Agustín Marchesín did the best of jobs to deal with Gavi’s well-worked cross, and Pedri was gifted a tap-in.
It had all been about Barça to that point, with Ferran Torres having two of the best chances, and there was little change to the script after they had taken the lead. Celta put up very little reaction and considering the amount of time the ball spent in and around their area, they could feel very fortunate indeed not to be trailing by more at the break.
Xavi had very honestly spoken before the game about the need to turn possession into shots and real danger, and also over-reliance on Robert Lewandowski for goals, and we seemed to be seeing further evidence of that here.
Celta come to life
With a makeshift defence and Ter Stegen needing treatment on his back, the home side were beginning to look worryingly vulnerable against the increasingly more confident-looking Galicians. Celta, it has to be said, were the better side in the second half and had enough chances to not only equalise but even win this game.
Not once but twice, Óscar Rodríguez will feel he should have scored, and Javi Galán did have the ball in the net but the offside flag was rightly up.
Not this time, Aspas
The closest Celta chance of all came when Iago Aspas, the man who has scored more goals against Barça than any other player this century, very nearly got another when he was one-on-one on Ter Stegen. The German’s fabulous block saved Barça from dropping two crucial points.
Not that that was the end of it. Celta just kept coming and coming. Thanks to a combination of wonderful fortune, but some great defending and goalkeeping too, Barça got through it unscathed.
Next up… Inter
Overall, and despite the early brilliance, this ended up being one of the more disappointing performances of Barça’s season. But that’s always the sign of a good side – one that can even win games when they don’t produce their best football. And what’s more, to keep yet another clean sheet.
So, Barça stay top of the league table and can now start thinking about a big game with Inter Milan in three days’ time. A VERY big game. Força Barça!
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