Barca’s La Liga title hopes could potentially end on Sunday as Ronald Koeman’s men host an in-form Celta Vigo side at Camp Nou. Blaugrana are on the third spot with just two games left, four points behind toppers Atletico. Celta, who are eighth, arrive at the Catalan capital, winning all their last four league outings.
To fulfil their bleak La Liga title dream, Barcelona need to win both of their final two fixtures while challengers Atletico and Real must lose all of theirs – a tall order, given the two side’s hunger to end the season with silverware. Barca laboured to a 3-3 draw against Levante midweek, and were left four points behind league leaders Atletico with only two games remaining.
Bitter-rivals Real Madrid are also distancing themselves from the Blaugrana, securing all three points in their respective match midweek and are two points behind Atletico at second, whereas Sevilla are two points behind Ronald Koeman’s men at fourth in one of the most exciting Spanish top-flight race in recent years. Therefore, Barcelona are also vulnerable to finish fourth, something that would not go down well with the fans and the board members alike, despite their Copa del Rey glory last month.
Heading onto the Celta game on Sunday, the Catalan giants will also be slightly concerned with their home form this term, dropping points in seven of their 18 La Liga games so far as nothing but three massive points are only welcome at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Guests Celta on the other hand, are on track for their highest finish in the Spanish top-flight since the 2015-16 campaign. Los Celestes ended their previous two La Liga seasons at 17th, but a resurgence among the squad this year, led to 13 wins, 11 draws and 12 defeats in 36 league games, along with 50 points in their kitty.
The Galicians sit in eighth, four points above ninth-placed Athletic Bilbao, as Eduardo Coudet and his men enjoy their excellent run of late, gathering maximum points in their last four league games, including a 1-0 victory over Getafe on Wednesday night. Former Man City winger Nolito scored the only goal of the game, which was enough to seal all three points midweek, and the Sky Blues will now be hoping to end the season on a high note with two positive results against Barca and Real Betis. However, Celta haven’t been able to triumph over their weekend’s opponents at their own backyard since 2014, while Koeman’s team easily saw them off 3-0 in the reverse fixture in October 2020.
Is there anything else to add about the great Leo Messi? The skipper has scored 37 goals assisting 14 another in 46 overall appearances, and the club has been desperate to keep him at the Camp Nou for a few more years. With his contract expiring next month, club president Joan Laporta is left with the monumental task of convincing him to stay at his boyhood club and mentor the young squad in the process.
Pedri midfielder has been a revelation at the Catalan capital since his arrival last summer. The 18-year-old, with his partnership with Frenkie de Jong, has revamped Barcelona’s ageing and sloth midfield through their energetic presence in the middle of the pitch. Being an advanced playmaker who loves rushing further up the pitch, Pedri creates 46.4 passes per game with 87.8% accuracy. His versatility at defence allows him to make 0.9 clearances and 1.2 successful tackles on average each game.
Iago Aspas has been one of La Liga’s most consistent and prolific goal scorers since his return from Liverpool in 2015. The Galician native started 31 games, scoring 13 goals and creating a further 11 more to date. Besides being Celta’s top scorer and top assist provider this season, the Spanish forward is also his club’s top dribbler, completing with 1.9 take-ons per game with 1.5 shots on goal. And to top that, only three other players have played more minutes than Aspas this season.
Brais Mendez has racked up over 2,400 minutes in the league, in 32 appearances, with an average of 1.5 shots per 90 minutes. After an irregular year and a half with the Galicians, the promising winger has been revitalized under Coudet, and with his tally of 8 La Liga goals, his best figure in the First Division has repaid the faith shown in him by the Argentine coach.
Given Celta’s recent form, this could be a very tricky tie for Barcelona, who have suffered a number of embarrassing results due to their inexperienced backline. However, Koeman’s team are expected to return to winning ways in a close encounter, with Messi probably scoring the winner once again as usual.