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The several small clubs in Vigo, on the Atlantic coast not far from the Portuguese border, 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 the region of Galicia, where it vies for supremacy with traditional rivals Deportivo La Coruña.
The last decade 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.
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 ten league meetings have produced four wins each and two draws.
Only one of those Celta wins was at the Camp Nou, in 2014 when goalkeeper Sergio Álvarez was simply extraordinary.
Last season, Barça won this fixture three days before Christmas, 2-0 with goals from Ousmane Dembélé and Leo Messi and although Celta won by the same score when the sides met at Celta's Balaidos ground, Barça had already won the league by that stage and Ernesto Valverde rested several players with the Champions League semi-final in mind.
Celta’s season really has not been going to plan and they are currently third from bottom with just nine points.
They have only won two of their first twelve games (both at home, to Valencia and Athletic Club), and are particularly struggling up front. They have yet to score two goals in the same game and only found the net once in their last four outings.
Curiously, however, their defensive record is remarkably solid. Indeed, the 15 goals they have conceded are only one more than top-of-the-table Barça.
Man to watch
The biggest name at Celta is Iago Aspas, the highest scoring Spaniard in la Liga last season. He’s Celta’s top marksman this year too, albeit with just two goals. But Aspas has a habit of peaking against Barça, having scored six goals in nine games, although he has only netted once at Camp Nou.
Most capped internationals
Néstor Araujo (Mexico, 35), Okay Yokuşlu (Turkey, 22), Pione Sisto (Denmark, 21), Stanislav Lobotka (Slovakia, 20), Iago Aspas (Spain, 18)
La Masia graduate and Brazil international Rafinha signed a new contract with Barça at the start of the season, after spending most of last term side-lined with an anterior cruciate ligament injury. However, he is currently out on loan to Celta but will miss this game though injury.
Somebody else who knows the Camp Nou very well indeed is Denis Suárez. He was sold from Barça B to Villarreal in 2015, but the Catalans exercised the buyback clause a year later. After 46 games for the first team, he went on loan to Arsenal last season before being sold to Celta in the summer.
Young centre back David Costas was at Barça B on loan two seasons ago, and made one first team appearance as a substitute for Gerard Piqué against Murcia in the Copa del Rey – and left back David Juncà also spent a couple of years at La Masia in his youth.
Looking back at his Barça years, Denis Suárez said this week that “there was a period when I was doing very well. But I scored in two or three games and was then ignored for a month. It’s hard to explain things like that but at a big club like Barcelona you always have to be ready to take your chances.”
Now he’s at Celta: "I feel responsible for our poor form because I know I have much more to offer … We needing to start winning games and gaining confidence, because once you get on a roll it is so much easier.”
And if he scores at Camp Nou? Will he celebrate? “I don’t know. I have a lot of respect for Barcelona. Ill be happy but I won’t do anything crazy as that would be senseless.”
And the Barça connections continue with Celta’s new manager, Óscar García, who grew up at the club and was in the first team squad throughout the Dream Team era of the nineties, although his role as an attacking midfielder was generally peripheral.
It was also at the Ciutat Esportiva where he gained his first coaching experience in the youth structure. He has gone on to manage clubs in Israel (Maccabi Tel Aviv), England (Brighton and Watford), Austria (Salzburg), France (Saint Etienne) and Greece (Olympiacos).
Following the sacking of Fran Escribá this week, García has been appointed new boss of Celta. It’s the first time he’s managed at senior level in Spain, and his first challenge is none other than a trip home to Barcelona!
"I’m no magician” he said after taking the job. “I can’t do much in three days. We worked on a few concepts but there’s much more work to do.”
"I never imagined my first Liga game as a coach would be at the Camp Nou. It’s a very special game for me because I spent half my life there.”
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