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Red-hot Celta Vigo vs. Timid Barcelona – Match Preview

Kundan Raj Parajulee Contributor
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Kundan Raj Parajulee Contributor
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Tough run of Barcelona‘s games continue as they travel to face Celta Vigo in the gameweek 32 of La Liga 2019/20 tonight. A tough run of games has also resulted in a poor series of performances, with Barca held 0-0 at Sevilla and almost lost another two points at Camp Nou against Athletic only to get bailed by the impactful substitutions in the second half. Now they take on an in-form Celta Vigo side, in an AWAY game, coming fresh off a 6-0 battering of Alaves and an away victory against a potent Real Sociedad. If Barcelona become too sluggish and predictable, reacting too late to make changes as against Athletic, things might turn horrible for Blaugranas at Estadio de Balaídos.

Here is how Barcelona fares away and Celta at home.

Barcelona are the team that enjoyed most spell at the top of the league while Celta have been relegation threatened the entire season. Thus, the uncanny similarity in the table above also highlights how poor Barcelona have been away from home this term.

Season comparison

Data: FBRef/Statsbomb

No contest, obviously.

Celta Vigo don’t even come close when we compare their entire season with Barca, a team still unbeaten at home. What we can do instead is compare Celta Vigo’s home records with Barcelona’s away records (shown to be quite similar in the table above).

Data: FBRef/Statsbomb

Now, the data looks comparable. Offensively, there is no outright winner, while defensively, Barcelona looks worse. This judgment is accurate because the average expected Goals Allowed by Celta at home (0.89) is better than Barca away (1.13).

Recent Performance

After La Liga resumed, both the teams have collected 7 points from a possible 9, while keeping clean sheets on all three games. But the momentum is with Celta Vigo. While Barcelona have largely struggled against the top 10 teams ( Sevilla and Athletic ) , Celta took all three points at Anoeta and now have distanced themselves from the relegation zone by 7 points. On top of this all, Barcelona also are winless at Balaidos since 2015. So, the only factors implicating Barcelona as the favorites are Lionel Messi and the club’s history; everything else looks bleak.

Team News

Celta Vigo might be tempted to not tweak the lineup by much for tonight’s clash. Okay Yokuslu will return to the squad after serving a one-match suspension against La Real while David Junca and Sergio Alvarez are still out injured. Rafinha and Denis Suarez have a strong chance to be in the lineup to face their boyhood club while linking up with red-hot Iago Aspas, who has stood out in a mediocre team with 11 goals this Liga season.

Meanwhile, for Barcelona, Sergio Busquets is suspended after picking up a yellow card in the last match. Ousmane Dembele , Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto are all out due to injury. Ivan Rakitic and Riqui Puig are expected to be in the lineup after their strong performance against Athletic while Ansu Fati is tipped to partner Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi upfront with Luis Suarez expected to receive a precautionary rest keeping the next clash against Atletico Madrid in mind.

Final Verdict

Barcelona has a history of thriving under pressure when it comes to La Liga. So, despite everything pointing against them, I still expect them to collect all three points in tonight’s clash. Apart from the 3 points, they are also in dire need of an inspired victory to uplift their low morale. I am expecting a 1-3 win for Barca.

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