Celta 2-1 FC Barcelona: Losing end to a winning season

Celta 2-1 FC Barcelona: Losing end to a winning season

Gabri Veiga double saves home side from relegation but Ansu Fati's goal keeps them worrying until the very end

FC Barcelona have ended the 2022/23 season with a 2-1 defeat to Celta.

It’s a defeat that is very easy to explain. The league trophy is already safely housed at Spotify Camp Nou, and the Catalans were essentially just going through the motions. But for the Galicians, this was a do or die battle against relegation, and it showed.

Celta did what they set out to do, and on an extraordinary final day in which any of six different teams could have joined Elche and Espanyol in dropping out of the top flight, it eventually turned out to be Real Valladolid who we are saying goodbye to.

Celta ahead

But even a Barça with nothing to play for is a tough challenge for any side, and Xavi clearly wasn’t in the mood for charity. Although his bench even included names that had never appeared on a Barça team-sheet before, none of them got onto the field as the coach opted instead to field pretty much the strongest side he could.

So, there was much alarm at Balaidos when Barça capped a fearsome start by appearing to take the lead after just 11 minutes. There was a huge sigh of relief from the home fans when Franck Kessie’s goal was chalked off for the narrowest of offside calls.

Celta had just had a goal of their own disallowed for offside when they did take the lead shortly before the break. Ter Stegen looked to have Gabri Veiga’s shot covered, but the Celta midfielder managed to find the exact line he needed to get the ball home.

It was an especially frustrating moment for the Barça keeper because it meant he would not be beating Paco Liaño’s record for clean sheets in a season, and neither could he set La Liga’s all-time best goalkeeping coefficient.

Gabri again

Ter Stegen would end up withdrawing to allow Iñaki Peña to guard the net for the last half hour. And although the reserve goalie conceded within minutes of coming on, he was not at all to blame.

It was young Gabri again. It looked more like a cross than a shot, but whatever it was, it was something extraordinary and there was no way Peña was getting to that.

Ansu pulls one back

Naturally the home side were bringing a far greater level of intensity to the proceedings, but Barça were doing nothing wrong. And as soon as Celta had started to relax, beginning to feel the job had been done, they got punished.

Ousmane Dembélé picked out fellow substitute Ansu Fati and Barça were back in the game. Balaidos was a very nervous place. Everyone was fearing a Barça equaliser and the wrong results elsewhere… And Barça had no intention of ending 2022/23 with a defeat and pressed and pressed in search of a second.

Celta hung on. They’re staying up.

It wasn’t the end that Barça might have wanted, but ultimately it doesn’t matter too much. They are nevertheless heading to Japan for an end-of-season friendly as Liga champions, and with Pichici Lewandowski and Zamora Ter Stegen on board.

It’s been a fantastic Liga season in every respect, and that’s what matters the most!


Força Barça
Força Barça

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