Barça hosted Celta Vigo on Match Day 17 before the 2 week Spanish football break. Barça have struggled against Celta Vigo off late with 3 draws in their last 5 competitive fixtures.
Meanwhile, Celta Vigo has struggled this season, currently languishing in 9th place with a shaky defence. Though they have scored 28 goals this season, their finishing has been poor.
Formation and Lineups
Semedo returned to the starting lineup with Barça starting in their traditional 4-3-3 formation. Coutinho and Arthur was left on the bench again, with Arturo Vidal and Dembélé taking up their places.
Celta Vigo started with their usual 4-4-2 formation with the impressive Spanish internation Iago Aspas upfront.
Vidal started on the right side of the midfield with Rakitic occupying the left. Upfront, Messi started on the right wing and Dembélé on the left. Celta exerted some initial pressure on the Barça backline eventually leading to the their first corner in the 2nd minute. The whipped in corner was flicked on and Araujo’s header was just wide.
Barça won a few corners in the next few minutes which they failed to make any significant impact. However on the 11the minute, it was the Messi-Alba combination which created the first goal. The move was started off by Messi who dropped deep and found Alba with a wonderful ball, the left-back crosses quickly back to Messi, whose low strike is parried away by Blaco. The rebound falling to Dembélé, who makes no mistake in smashing the ball through the legs of the keeper.
Barça dominated the possession averaging 73% during the initial 15 minutes and continued the domination of the ball around the Celta’s four-man midfield. Celta were unable to create any chances and Barça’s high press hurried the Celta midfield. In one of the Barça’s high press, Celta lost the ball and suddenly Barça were on the break. Dembélé races through on goal but trips after getting his foot stuck.
Midway into the first half, Celta began to respond to Barça’s domination by venturing forward though they couldn’t create any clear-cut chances. Into the final minute of the first-half, It was unsurprisingly Alba-Messi combination which doubled Barça’s lead. The move started after Pique won a free-kick in Barça’s box after being fouled by Gomez. Pique found Busquets in the middle, who found Alba with his long ball over the top. Alba, judged Messi’s run through the middle and found him with a brilliant defence-splitting through ball. Messi with just the goalkeeper to beat, slotted the ball calmly into the goalkeeper’s right.
Celta started the second half brightly pinning Barça in their own half with quick passing. But their hopes were dealt a body blow, when their star man Iago Aspas pulled up injured. Camp Nou showed their appreciation for the Celta man as he was applauded off the pitch.
Suarez had a great opportunity to wrap up the match for Barça as Alba after taking a touch from his left-foot, slid in a pass from his right-foot to find Suarez in the middle, through on goal. However, the Uruguayan’s first time shot rolls wide of the far post.
Barça were relatively subdued in the later parts of the second half creating the only notable chance on the 67thminute, when Semedo slipped free on the inside-right, dragging his shot towards Blanco’s far post. Blanco did make the save but couldn’t hold onto the ball, Messi lurking around the box, slid into sweep the ball into the net, but the keeper prevents it from crossing the line.
Celta’s only chance came on the 77thminute after Mazan’s shot from outside the area from was flicked towards the far post, But Ter Stegen dived just in time to stop the ball going into the net.
The full-time whistle was blown with Barça easing to a comfortable 2-0 victory.
- Messi Alba Combination
When Dani Alves left Barça, it was hard to imagine a fullback matching his assist tally to Messi. But the way Alba seems to have developed a telepathic understanding with Messi, that record looks to be surely overtaken. Though the defenders do anticipate the cutback from Alba to Messi, they still seem to find a way to beat the trap. It’s been a delight to watch this combination do better and better.
- Defensive Solidarity
Barça have struggled in defense from the start of the season conceding 17 goals in their first 12 league matches with only 2 clean sheets. The long-term injury to Samuel Umtiti and Vermaelen’s injury struggles didn’t paint the picture bright. After the Betis hammering, Barça seemed to have improved in defence significantly. They have conceded a single goal(against Atletico) in the league and have maintained 4 clean sheets. There are tougher fixtures in the next year and we hope the defensive solidarity continues.
- Dembélé’s Impressive Statistics
Ousamane Dembélé was on target again for Barça notching up his 10th goal of the season. Dembélé was bright throughout the match and had to put up with a quite a few hefty challenges from Celta players as they tried to stop him. It’s something he’s going to have to get used to as the season progresses, but it’s a compliment that he’s become such a target for opposing teams.
Ter Stegen- 7/10
- He made one crucial save on the 77thminute, otherwise largely uneventful match for the german.
- He was calm and assured in defence.
- He brought out the ball from the back and made crucial tackles.
- He didn’t contribute much to the attack though was solid in defence.
- A complete performance in attack and defence capping off with a brilliant assist to Messi.
- A typical underrated Busquets performance.
- Was strong in defence, made a couple of crucial tackles.
- His usual energy and work-ethic was on display.
- Didn’t offer much in the attack and should have scored a relatively easy chance.
- Not the complete Messi performance. Though scored the second goal, his decision making was at fault couple of times.
Dembélé – 7/10
- He started off brightly with the goal though faded a bit in the second half.