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FC Barcelona are looking to make it five wins from five when they take on Celta Vigo on Wednesday at Balaídos (kick off 8.00pm CET) against a side which has picked up ten out of a possible 12 points so far this campaign. Luis Enrique expects a tough challenge against his former team on a ground which traditionally poses problems for the Catalans.
Sandro Ramírez is the latest to join a growing list of injured Barça players after the young striker suffered a bruised leg in Sunday’s win over Levante. In a last-minute development, Jordi Alba has been ruled out with neck soreness and has been replaced in the squad by Douglas, himself just activated following a two-month recovery from a hamstring injury suffered during the preseason.
Ramírez and Alba join Claudio Bravo, Thomas Vermaelen and Rafinha on the sidelines.
Nevertheless, Barça have been boosted by the return of defender Gerard Pique who is available for selection after a four-match suspension.
The hosts will be without left-back Jonny Castro after he was sent off in the final moments of his side’s 2-1 win over Sevilla on Sunday. Celta will, however, have at their disposal former Barça trio Nolito, Andreu Fontas and Sergi Gómez.
Luis Enrique was full of praise for Celta’s impressive start to the season and is under no illusions that the upcoming fixture against his former club will be an easy affair.
“I expect a really difficult game given the characteristics of our opponents and their current form. All in all it will be an attractive and interesting game for us,” said the Barça coach ahead of the trip to Galicia.
Celta are fourth in La Liga and Luis Enrique was quick to praise Eduardo Berizzo for the work he had done in a little over a year as manager, calling his former club “one of the best teams in the league”.
The Celta boss, on his part, was quick to divert those kind words back towards his predecessor, saying that “he (Luis Enrique) laid the foundation and my players found continuity under my guidance” before describing Barça as “the best team in the world”.
Barcelona are the only team in the top division with a perfect record of four wins from the first four games. Another win in Vigo would see the title holders remain top of the league going into Saturday’s home game against Las Palmas (4pm CET).
Celta are one of five sides yet to lose this campaign, and their latest win against Sevilla puts them within two points of the top of the table.
At the start of the century, Barça managed just one victory in six matches at Balaídos but are currently on an unbeaten run of five matches away to Celta, four of which were wins including last season’s hard-fought 0-1 success thanks to a Jeremy Mathieu header.
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