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Just three days after putting six goals past Sporting Gijón (match report: highlights) the new Liga leaders are once again in action at the Camp Nou, this time against Celta Vigo (Saturday at 8.45pm CET).
Second placed Real Madrid, who are at Eibar earlier on in the day, may still have a game in hand, but their 3-3 draw with Las Palmas midweek means Barça’s title challenge is no longer depending on other results going their way.
Arda Turan comes into the squad having been passed fit on Wednesday and is included in Luis Enrique’s squad in place of André Gomes. The Portuguese midfielder misses out as he is ill and was unable to train on Friday. Barça’s number ‘21’ joins the injured Aleix Vidal and Jérémy Mathieu on the sidelines, while Jordi Masip has been left out. Jeremy Mathieu sprained an ankle against Atlético Madrid last weekend and Aleix Vidal is out for five months with a far more serious ankle injury.
Therefore, Arda for André is the only change from Wednesday’s 6-1 win over Sporting as Barça head into their second game at the Camp Nou in only four days. This is the match day squad in full: Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Arda, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto and Umtiti.
Celta midfielder Pablo Hernandez strained his calf against Sporting last weekend, while Andreu Fontás won’t be able to line up against his former team after getting sent off against Espanyol midweek.
This is the first outing for Luis Enrique since he dropped the bombshell that he’s stepping down as first team manager at the end of the season.
Having got that off his chest, he said on Friday that he feels "relieved and focused on the objectives we have until the end of the season." Speaking more specifically about the game against a side he coached himself in the 2013/14 season, he added that “it will be tough against a team that creates heavy pressure and marks man-to-man all over the field. They are one of the toughest sides to compete against in La Liga.”
His counterpart Eduardo Berizzo said at his own press conference that “this is a top class game and the Camp Nou is a fantastic stadium. Our intention is to win this match at such an important moment in the season.”
FC Barcelona are on an 18-match unbeaten streak in LaLiga, and have won the last five, scoring an average of four goals a game in the process. The Champions League campaign, however, is not going quite so according to plan, but Luis Enrique has insisted that he is no way distracted by ‘operation comeback’ against PSG on Wednesday.
Berizzo also shunned suggestions that Celta’s Europa League fixture with Krasnodar is a more pressing issue than the game at the Camp Nou. The Galicians have spent most of the season in mid-table, but the additional workload not just of continental football but also a Copa del Rey run all the way to the semi-finals has certainly tested the sky-blues' squad-depth to the limit.
In fact, Celta are the only team that have beaten the blaugrana three times since Luis Enrique has been in charge, and the eight goals they have put past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is by far the highest amount that the German stopper has conceded against a single club. And keep an eye out for Iago Aspas. The 29-year-old has scored three goals in Celta’s last two games against the Catalans.
Wherever you are in the world, we have you covered. And if you can’t see the game on TV for whatever reason, then Nick Simons’ commentaries on Radio Barça are so colourful that you’ll almost feel you are in the stadium! You'll find the link on the home page shortly before the game kicks off.
And you can always rely on our official Twitter account for constant updates as the action unfolds.
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