Bala dos, Vigo
Wednesday 23rd Sept. 2015, 1800 GMT
FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique will be welcomed back to the ground where the journey back to Camp Nou began for him. It was Enrique who revived the Galician club back in the top 10 of the Spanish league for the first time since the decline of mid 00s before moving on to FC Barcelona.
It is also the ground where Rafinha and Thiago Alcantara’s father, the legendary Mazinho plied in trade. Decades after Mazinho, his son Rafinha would grace the turf at Balaidos and make a name for himself.
Sadly, Rafinha will miss the game after suffering from a torn ACL in last mid-week’s Champions League game against Roma following a poor challenge from Radja Nainggolan.
Barcelona will hope to halt Celta Vigo’s 9 match unbeaten run in the league and continue their 100% start to the league season.
Celta Vigo Team News & Tactics
Having beaten Barca 1-0 at the Camp Nou, Celta are no pushovers, with the dangerous Nolito scoring 4 goals in 4 games. It was Nolito, who’s incredible back-heeled assist condemned Barcelona to the loss at Camp Nou.
Nolito had played under Luis Enrique in Barca B and will want to again cause damage to his former boss when he starts in the inside left position in a front three of a 4-3-3 formation that also includes former Liverpool FC player Iago Aspas and Chilean FabiA?n Orellana. The dangerous front three have bagged seven goals and three assists in four La Liga outings.
The attackers are supported by a midfield consisting of Daniel Wass, Augusto Fernandez and Pablo Hernandez (Chilean and not the ex-Valencia and Swansea man).
In the defence, left-back Jonny is suspended and will be replaced by Carles Planas. Hugo Mallo will occupy the opposite side of defence with Andreu FontA?s and Gustavo Cabral manning the central defence. The defence will have the job of protecting the Spanish ‘keeper Sergio A?lvarez.
Celta Vigo Possible XI: A?lvarez; Cabral, FontA?s, Mallo, Planas; Wass, FernA?ndez, HernA?ndez: Nolito, Aspas, Orellana.
FC Barcelona Team News & Tactics
Barcelona welcome back Gerard Pique into the first team fold after the defender completed his 4-game ban. It will be interesting to see if manager Luis Enrique plays the defender ahead of Marc Bartra who had a fine game.
Having fielded a 4-2-3-1 in his last game with Lionel Messi in the free play-making role from the centre, Enrique is expected to revert back to a 4-3-3, pushing Messi out-wide to make room for the return of Andres Iniesta. Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba are also expected to be reintroduced to the XI after sitting out the Levante tie.
Rakitic could be making way for Sergi Roberto after playing in all of the Blaugrana’s previous games.
Sandro is out injured and will not feature in the game after starting the last one. While Gerard Gumbau may get his second opportunity to play for the Barca first team having made his debut at the weekend.
FC Barcelona possible XI: Ter-Stegen, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Roberto, Iniesta, Messi, Neymar, Suarez
Man to watch: Nolito
Fans of Celta Vigo and Spanish football would not have expected much from Nolito when signed for the Galician side, but, the former Barca B player now has scored in double figures in two seasons running. Having already proved his mettle against the Blaugrana with his assist in defeating them at the Camp Nou and notching up four strikes in as many games this season, the Barcelona defence will have their task cut out against him.
- Barcelona have been drawing at half time and winning at full time in 6 of their last 7 matches in La Liga.
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in Celta Vigo’s last 5 games in La Liga.
- Celta Vigo have scored at least 3 goals in their last 3 home matches in La Liga.
- Celta Vigo are undefeated in their last 9 matches in La Liga.
Blast from the past: