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Time for a closer look at the team that FC Barcelona will be hosting on Saturday at 6.30pm CEST.
WHERE ARE THEY FROM?
With a population of just under 300,000, Vigo is the biggest city in the region of Galicia in north-west Spain, which has its own unique language and culture. Located on the Atlantic coast, just a few miles from the Portuguese border, it is home to the European Fisheries Control Agency, being a natural choice for that honour due to its close ties to that industry.
The several small teams in Vigo decided in 1923 that in order to be more competitive on a national level they would be better off combining forces as a single club. Thus Real Club Celta was formed, named in honour of the Celtic tradition in Galicia, where it vies for supremacy with local rivals Deportivo La Coruña.
The club has never won either of the two biggest trophies in Spanish football, having lost in all three of their Copa del Rey final appearances, most recently in 2001.
The last decade or so has been the best in club history, but although Celta are regularly in contention for Champions League places, 2003 was the only year that they actually qualified. Their finest showing in the Europa League was a a run to quarter finals in 2016–17, where they eventually went out to Manchester United.
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 18 league meetings have also seen Celta get seven wins, just one fewer than Barça in the same period.
They've been something of a bogey team for Barça of late, and have even won twice at Camp Nou, 1-0 in 2014 when goalkeeper Sergio Álvarez was simply extraordinary, and 2-1 the season before last, when Santi Mina scored twice to cancel out Leo Messi’s opener.
Last season at Spotify Camp Nou, a Pedri goal after 17 minutes was all that split the teams, while Barça lost 2-1 at Balaídos. However, that game does need context. It was the final game of the season, after Barça had already sewn up the title while the Galicians were battling to avoid relegation..
Last five meetings (all La Liga)
04/06/23 Celta Vigo 2-1 Barça
09/10/22 Barça 1-0 Celta
10/05/22 Barça 3-1 Celta
06/11/21 Celta 3-3 Barça
16/05/21 Barça 1-2 Celta
After narrowly escaping relegation last season, current form suggests Celta might face a similar struggle this season. At Balaídos, they have lost all three of their fixtures to date, and without scoring a single goal in front of their home fans.
Oddly, the four points they have to show from their first five games have all been gathered on the road. Celta managed a draw at Real Sociedad and a win in Almería. That leaves them 16th in the table.
Most capped internationals
Renato Tapia (Peru, 79); Iago Aspas (Spain, 20), Anastasios Douvikas (Greece, 15), Luca de la Torre (USA, 17), Agustín Marchesín (Argentina, 8), Joseph Aidoo (Ghana, 11); Mihailo Ristić (Serbia, 9), Carl Starfelt (Sweden, 7), Franco Cervi (Argentina, 4), Jørgen Strand Larsen (Norway, 7)
Right-back Óscar Mingueza (below) a product of La Masia, had played 46 first team games for FC Barcelona in two seasons before being sold to Celta last summer.
Another familiar face is striker Carles Pérez (below) who spent his teenage years at Barça and became one of the stars of Barça B while also getting the occasional outing with the senior team. In 2020 he departed for Roma, and after playing for Celta on loan from the Italian club he was permanently signed last summer.
Rafa Benítez is the new man in the Celta hotseat and is a man who should need no introduction. After winning La Liga twice with Valencia, he went on to a number of high profile jobs including positions in the Premiership both at Liverpool and their arch-rivals Everton, as well as Chelsea and Newcastle. He was in charge of Real Madrid for a year and was in Serie A as coach of Inter Milan and Napoli.
Benítez was originally a product of the Real Madrid youth system, but injuries was the main reason why he never managed to play at the highest level. He took up coaching, and his impressive trophy haul is testimony that he has proved very adept indeed at the job. Last summer he replaced Carlos Carvalhal at Celta, and it will be very interesting to see if he can use his experience to turn the club's ailing fortunes around.
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