Camp Nou, Spain

Saturday, November 3, 17:00 Hrs GMT


“Humility is not to be cocky, like Messi,” said the prudent Barcelona president and tried yet another stunt to shake the hornet’s nest. The diminutive Argentine meanwhile has collected his second Golden Boot award for the 2011-12 season but was absent on Friday from practice citing personal reasons. Barcelona, under Vilanova are a different team than the one that thrived under the tutelage of Guardiola. Most importantly this team has learnt to eke out results match after match and this will be tested again against Celta Vigo.

Team News And Tactical Brief

FC Barcelona

The good news is that one of the star signings of last season is finding his old form at his boyhood club. The bad news is that the other one is only slipping away as much. The polarity of the scheme of events of these two youngsters is something of a headache for Vilanova, even if a mild one. Sanchez has been lackluster of late, so much so that news of a shock move to Tottenham Hotspurs and the last time a Barcelona player moved to Spurs, his career moved into the doldrums. Perhaps this match is one of the few chances that will come Sanchez’s way to prove his worth to Vilanova, Rosell and FC Barcelona. Liverpool too are seen to be a possible destination for the beleaguered South American. If this season the Chilean doesn’t do anything substantial, he might just move to bench and next summer, out of Camp Nou.

Cesc Fabregas has been a revelation of late. Barcelona fans around the globe are now getting a glimpse of the Cesc, for whom the club went berserk. His last outing against Vallecano was nothing short of phenomenal and his assist to David Villa was as good as they get. This should make him a sure-starter against Celta. Lionel Messi did not play midweek and should be available for this match as will be Xavi. David Villa has been quite phenomenal since his recuperation from the horrible injury that put him away from the game for about 8-9 months and this weekend he can expect to shoulder offensive duties alongside Leo and Pedro.

Vilanova’s defensive problem might just be relieved a bit with the return of Dani Alves from injury and Mascherano from suspension. Barcelona are expected to line up with Alves, Mascherano, Bartra and Alba. Although the concept of Alba and Alves on their flank has been quite an exciting one, fans around the globe are yet to see their magic unfold together. On their day if the double duo of Alba-Iniesta and Alves-Messi work to their potential, then perhaps even aircrafts won’t be good enough from stopping them from finding the back of the net. But yes, there’s perhaps one person who can still stop them – Javi Varas, a superman of a goalkeeper.

Probable Starting-line up (4-3-3): Valdes(GK); Alves, Bartra, Mascherano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Cesc; Villa, Messi, Pedro

Celta Vigo

They are yet to open their account of points, on the road having scored just 3 and conceded 8. This might just sound a cake-walk for Barcelona especially when they are cruising like they are doing at the moment. However, if there’s one name that can make a difference, it’s Javi Varas. A man who perhaps played the best game of his life against Barcelona last season. Varas is on loan to Celta Vigo and he has the experience to negate the razor-sharp Barcelona offense so much so that once even Lionel Messi felt the heat and missed a penalty at the last moment. Otherwise the team has been pedestrian this term.

However, the interesting part is that Celta Vigo can be expected to meet Barcelona with a formation similar to theirs and thereby giving Barcelona the same space that Barcelona offer others. Their offense will also be ready to pounce on the Barca defence.

Iago Aspas will be the main matter of concern for the Barcelona defence and he should be ably assisted by Augusto Fernandez and Michael Krohn-Dehli on either side. Bustos, Lopez and Oubina should be handed over the midfield duties. In defence, the visitors will miss Gustavo Cabral who is suspended for this match. In his absence, the defence should comprise of Mallo, Samuel, Tunez and Lago. And of course Javi Varas – one name that should being back to memory, traumatic experiences of the past.

Probable Starting-line up (4-3-3): Varas(GK); Mallo, Samuel, Tunez, Lago; Bustos Lopez, Oubina; Fernandez, Aspas, Krohn-Dehli

Key Facts

  1. FC Barcelona have won all their last 4 matches against Celta Vigo in all competitions.
  2. Celta Vigo are yet to get a point on road.
  3. Javi Varas, now on loan to Celta Vigo, put out an outstanding performance against Barcelona last season and saved a penalty in the dying moments of the match.

Courtesy: WhoScored.com

Player To Watch Out For

Javi Varas (Celta Vigo)

He’s a good keeper. Against Barcelona, he is perhaps the best keeper on the planet. In his last outing against Barca, his performance was at a level of which even Buffon or Kahn would be proud of, leave alone Casillas. He has been the wall that stopped every Barcelona attack, including a penalty in the dying moments by the ever-imperious Leo Messi. If there’s any mind-game going into this game, Varas has already won it.


FC Barcelona 2-0 Celta Vigo

Varas was immense against Guardiola’s Barcelona. This however, is Vilanova’s Barcelona and in all probability they will grind out all three points. However, if anything else, we might just be in for yet another goalkeeping spectacle and perhaps the biggest upset of the season till now.