Barcelona will be looking to take another giant stride towards securing the La Liga crown as they travel to the Balaidos to face Celta Vigo on Tuesday.
Celta Vigo are your staple mid-table team this season. The Galician club has had a few impressive results in their La Liga campaign, but has often crumbled against comparatively weaker teams, which has been one of the contributors to them being just 9th on the table.
Barcelona are on course to do an Invincible, something that has not been done by any other club in the top five leagues apart from Arsenal. The Catalans have 6 games to go and could take another giant step towards confirming their status as the new La Liga champions with a win on Tuesday, with the club currently 11 points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona’s last trip to Celta Vigo in a league match saw them succumb to a narrow 4-3 loss at the hands of the home side and the fans would be hoping their side is able to do the same – a result which would propel them to eighth on the table.
Team News & Tactics
There are no injury concerns for the home side as Barcelona pay a visit. But, Hugo Mallo and Pablo Hernandez are set to miss out due to accrued suspensions. Hugo Mallo should be replaced by Facundo Roncaglia at right-back while Nemanja Radoja should slot in central midfield to cover for the absence of Pablo Hernandez.
Juan Carlos Unzue will be looking towards Iago Aspas and Maxi Gomez to aid their cause against Barcelona, whose defence has been suspect in the recent matches. Celta Vigo also play possession football and it will be interesting to see how Unzue tweaks their tactics for the game, with the home side unlikely to get a lion’s share of possession against Barcelona.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Alvarez; Roncaglia, Cabral, Gomez, Jonny; Wass, Radoja, Lobotka, Sisto; Gomez, Aspas
Ernesto Valverde should ring in the changes in order to rotate his squad enough to keep everyone fit and happy. Lucas Digne is still a doubt and unlikely to feature on Tuesday.
The defence should see a few changes, with Nelson Semedo and Thomas Vermaelen likely to slot in the back four. Jordi Alba will start on the left due to Digne’s unavailability while Vermaelen should be partnered by Samuel Umtiti.
In midfield, Ivan Rakitic is still out with a finger injury, which is likely to thrust Paulinho into the starting lineup. Ernesto Valverde should field a 4-4-2 formation again, with Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho starting on either wing, with Andres Iniesta being given a much needed rest.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): ter Stegen; Semedo, Vermaelen, Umtiti, Alba; Dembele, Paulinho, Busquets, Coutinho; Messi, Suarez
1. Celta Vigo are unbeaten in their last 3 home meetings against Barcelona in all competitions.
2. Leaky defence – Barcelona have conceded 10 goals in their last 5 trips to face Celta Vigo in the league.
3. With 17 clean sheets in the league so far, Barcelona have not managed one in their last 3 league games.
4. Celta Vigo have failed to score in 3 of their last 5 La Liga matches.
5. Lionel Messi has 9 goals and 9 assists in his 13 appearances against Celta Vigo.
Player to Watch
Aspas has found his feet on his return to Celta Vigo after a tumultuous time at Liverpool. And the winger-cum-striker has been one of the most potent frontmen in La Liga, with 19 league goals so far this season. The 30-year-old has a chance to convert the season into a 20-goal domestic campaign while also aiding Celta Vigo’s cause against Barcelona.
Barcelona’s defence has looked a bit shaky recently and Aspas, with his movement, could do more than just trouble the visitors.
Celta Vigo 2-2 Barcelona
Ernesto Valverde is likely to rotate his squad enough to maintain a balance of key players combined with chances to fringe ones. But, Barcelona’s form has dwindled of late, especially after their remarkably disheartening Quarter-Final loss to AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League.
Expect Celta Vigo to trouble Barcelona a lot and while Lionel Messi & co. should usher in the goals, Barcelona’s leaky defence is likely to concede a few as well. We expect a scoring draw at the Balaidos on Tuesday.