Celta Vigo vs Barcelona: Match preview
Stadium: Estadio de Balaidos
Referee: Antonio Mateu
Kick-off: 10:30 PM (IST), Saturday, 30th of March
League leaders Barcelona travel to relegation threatened Celta Vigo for a seemingly easy fixture, needing to win 6 of their remaining 10 league games in order to mathematically assure them of the league crown. With Atletico having fallen down the pecking order and Real Madrid now being their closest competitors, Barca still have a 13-point lead at the top and will be eager to maintain that under the watch of the returning Tito Vilanova. Celta Vigo, on the other hand, have much to play for themselves, being just three points away from safety, and will hope for a miracle against the mighty Blaugrana.
Celta Vigo: L W L L L
Terrible, miserable, horrid; just three of the many words that come to mind when one looks at Celta’s form over the recent weeks. With just 1 win and 8 defeats in their last 11 games, Celta have self-destructed after a reasonably bright start to their campaign and have no one but themselves to blame for their position in the league table. What is even worse is that they have managed to keep only one clean sheet since the beginning of December last year, and have conceded 12 goals in their last four losses. Against a Barcelona side which seems to score for fun, it could be a very long night indeed.
Barcelona: L L W W W
Barcelona have recovered very well from their losses to AC Milan and Real Madrid to progress in the Champions League and bounce back with back-to-back wins in the La Liga. These have been good wins as well with 9 goals scored and just 1 conceded between alternating goal-keepers Pinto and Valdes. The return of Tito Vilanova from his treatment in the USA should only serve as further inspiration for the Catalans to reclaim the La Liga title which is now within touching distance.
Celta Vigo: Michael Krohn-Dehli, Samuel, Hugo Mallo, Iago Aspas, Andres Tunez, Alex Lopez.
Barcelona: Xavi, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba, Adriano, Pedro, Victor Valdes.
With Celta Vigo’s top scorer Iago Aspas suspended for this game, the burden of scoring is likely to fall to second-highest scorer Fernandez, who has 4 league goals to his name. What will help his cause though is the absence of Jordi Alba at left-back with either the returning Abidal or Montoya replacing him. A good opportunity to exploit the lack of match fitness in case of the former, or lack of experience in case of the latter starting the game.
Lionel Messi, even though it is rarely said, has been making Barcelona look like a one-man team with his incredible record-breaking statistics. While it would be ridiculous to suggest that Barca are nothing without Messi, it is indeed true that Messi has scored more than five times as many league goals as the second highest scorer for them. With 6 goals in his last four games for the club, one sees no reason why he shouldn’t go out and do it yet again.
A comfortable Barcelona win. On each of the last three occasions that these two sides have met, including in the reverse fixture this season, Barcelona have put three goals past their opponents. If that happens, with Aspas suspended and Krohn-Dehli out injured, Celta will indeed struggle to find goals in reply. It would be quite incredible if the home side did manage to pull off a good result though.