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FC Barcelona’s intense run of seven games in just 23 days comes to an end on Sunday night with a trip to Vigo (8.45pm CET), where Celta are on an upward curve after a slow start to their campaign.
That’s the club that Luis Enrique left to become Barça manager just over two years ago, and the last time the Catalans travelled to Balaidos, they were on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline.
Barça are still missing Leo Messi to a hamstring injury, so the biggest question is who will be fielded as the third member of the attacking trident. The only other unfit member of the visiting squad is Samuel Umtiti, who is recovering from a knee problem. Andrés Iniesta stands to make his 600th appearance for the club tonight having been selected in the squad announced prior to leaving for Vigo this morning.
Full FCB squad: Goalkeepers: Ter Stegen, Jasper Cillessen; Defenders: Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Javier Mascherano, Jérémy Mathieu, Sergi Roberto, Lucas Digne; Midfielders: Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Arda Turan, Andrés Iniesta, André Gomes, Rafinha, Denis Suárez; Strikers: Luis Suárez, Neymar Jr, Paco Alcácer.
There are three defenders with a Barça B past in the Celta first team: Sergi Gómez, Andreu Fontàs and Carles Planas. However, Planas misses out through injury, as do Néstor Díaz, Claudio Beauvue and Chilean Fabián Orellana, who caused all kinds of trouble in this fixture last year but sits it out this time round with a hamstring injury.
Speaking on Saturday, Barça boss Luis Enrique accepted that the 4-1 loss last season has been a factor in his plans. “But so are previous games against any team we play” he continued. “Celta are never an easy opponent. They create a lot of pressure and make you work hard both on and off the ball.”
“They have the same manager, so the idea is much the same. Nolito might have left and Orellana can’t play, but they have made some good signings and have some promising youngsters coming through.”
Celta manager Eduardo Berizzo told the media that “we are up against one of the best teams in the world. Measuring up to them is always a challenge, but it’s also something that we’ll be measured by. I hope it takes our motivation up a level, and if we are settled and in the game then maybe we can create enough chances to win it.”
Barça are looking to make it four wins out of four on the road in La Liga, and last week moved to within a point of leaders Real Madrid.
Celta, meanwhile, were winless after their first four outings, but back-to-back wins against Sporting Gijón and Espanyol have since pulled them out of the relegation zone.
Both sides are also competing on the European stage. Barça of course have won their first two games in the Champions League while the Galicians, playing in the Europa League, drew away to Standard Liege and then beat Panathinaikos on Thursday.
Celta’s 4-1 win last season and their 1-0 victory at the Camp Nou in 2014 are a reminder of what a dangerous side they can be. However, aside from those reverses, the last twelve meetings have very much gone Barça's way, with nine wins and just one draw.
They last met on Valentine’s Day earlier this year, with Barça cruising to a spectacular 6-1 win that will always be remembered for Messi’s cheeky penalty pass to Luis Suárez.
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No matter where you are in the world we have you covered. Twitter users can follow @FCBarcelona for live, minute-by-minute updates of all the action and there will be live English commentary on Radio Barça.
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