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FC Barcelona will be hoping to continue their simply fabulous form as they take on Celta Vigo at the Estadi Olímpic in a Saturday 6.30pm CEST start. The Catalans have just got better and better, with the new players taking no time at all the gel into the team, and it's showing in the results. Five consecutive wins in La Liga and in Europe, and the two most recent by the outstanding result of 5-0, have got the coach, the players and the fans imagining that 2023/24 could end up being a very special one indeed for the blaugrana colours.
Indeed, manager Xavi Hernandez has said that Barça are playing "the best football since I've been here."
And the news just gets better after it was announced this Friday that Ronald Araujo is fully fit and raring to go. The much-missed Uruguayan defender has not played since the opening game of the competitive season, and the only one Barça have failed to win so far, a 1-1 draw at Getafe.
Celta in trouble
The opposition are a Celta Vigo side now managed by one of the most experienced coaches in world football, none other than Rafa Benítez. But things haven't exactly gone to plan, with the Galicians losing all three of their home fixtures to date. Curiously, things have been going far better for Celta on the road, where they have yet to be beaten. But the Catalans will be determined to change that, and if they can repeat the polished, confident displays of recent weeks, then they have every reason to believe they will.
But particularly the players who have been at Barça longest will be wary of those light blue shirts. Celta have been one of Barça's bogey teams in recent years, including having inflicted two home defeats on them in the last decade. In fact, only Real Madrid have a better record against Barça in the last 20 meetings. They are not a team to be under-estimated.
Fellow Catalan side Girona, currently matched on 16 points with Barça, will have played their game at home to Mallorca by the time this game starts. A win should put Barça top of the table overnight, and with a strong hope of staying there even longer, for Real Madrid face a tough derby at the home of their local rivals Atlético on Sunday night.
Did you know?
Other than a 1-0 defeat in 2014, Barça have scored at least once in 53 of their last 54 games at home to Celta.
Iago Aspas is always the man to watch out for in this fixture. He has scored 10 times against Barça and if he gets one on Saturday, he will move ahead of Diego Forlán to become the outright leading goalscorer against Barça this century.
This is the first Liga visit by Rafa Benítez to FC Barcelona since 2004. In fact, he won on both of his last two visits as Valencia manager and is now looking to become the first coach to ever win three games away to Barça, and first since Miguel Muñoz between 1963 and 1965.
Before the announcement of his new contract extension later in the day, coach Xavi Hernández appeared before the press at the Ciutat Esportiva on Friday. The Barça boss admitted his side were in excellent form at the moment but that there should be no underestimating opponents Celta Vigo on Saturday at the Estadi Olímpic.
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