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La Liga: FC Barcelona 3-1 Celta Vigo: Match Review

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FC Barcelona saw off the challenge of Celta Vigo on Saturday evening, running out 3-1 winners over their newly-promoted visitors at the Camp Nou with goals courtesy of Adriano, David Villa and Jordi Alba

Adriano scored his fourth of the season, and then went off injured in the 3-1 victory
Adriano scored his fourth of the season, and then went off injured in the 3-1 victory
David Ramos

FC Barcelona ran out comfortable winners in Saturday’s early kick-off, defeating Celta Vigo 3-1 at the Camp Nou. Adriano Correia put the Blaugrana ahead after 21 minutes, sliding the ball into the back of the net from close-range but that lead was short-lived as Celta Vigo responded with an equaliser on 24 minutes courtesy of Mario Bermejo. David Villa restored Barcelona’s lead just minutes later with a tap-in after good work from Andrés Iniesta and Jordi Alba rounded off the scoring by rounding the keeper, albeit from an offside position. The win was Barcelona’s ninth from their opening ten league games, a new club-record, and it also moved the Catalans three points clear at the top of the table. However, the victory came at a cost as Adriano was forced off through injury midway through the first-half.






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Tito Vilanova surprised us with an ambitious, attacking selection, as the Blaugrana coach decided against the traditional 4-3-3, or even a 3-4-3, instead sending out his side in a 3-3-4 formation. Javier Mascherano, Adriano Correia and Jordi Alba made up the back-line, with Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta in midfield. In attack, we had Lionel Messi, David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez, leaving Cesc Fàbregas to drift between midfield and attack. Whatever formation Barca was playing, one thing was for certain – an entertaining 90 minutes was ahead of us.

As expected, Barcelona started well. With so many players not only in midfield, but also in attack, Barca began to plug away at the visitors and it wasn’t long before the Catalans started to create chances. Some good play from David Villa set Cesc Fàbregas up for an effort from long-range, but the in-form midfielder couldn’t keep his shot down and the ball sailed over the bar. Lionel Messi, who started despite becoming a father on Friday, must have been desperate for a goal to dedicate to his new-born son and he helped himself to a couple of early chances although his nemesis – Javi Varas – was on hand to deny the Argentine. However, with so many attacking players on the field Barcelona continued to press forward and within 20 minutes, they had their breakthrough.

Surprisingly, it was a member of the three-man defense who broke the deadlock as Adriano stabbed the ball home from close range to put the Blaugrana ahead. The Brazilian started the move with an intelligent pass to the right-hand side where he found Pedro in space. The Spaniard accelerated towards the byline, while Adriano continued his run forward; bursting into the Celta area where Pedro found him with a pinpoint low cross – and from such close range there was no way that Adriano could miss, sliding in his fourth goal of the season.

However, that lead was short-lived as Celta exploited Barca’s makeshift backline to grab an instant reply. The warning signs had been there as Victor Valdés had to be at his very best to deny Iago Aspas just moments prior to Adriano’s opening goal, but with such a shaky (non-existent?) defense in front of him, Celta always stood a chance in this game. Once again, it was another well-executed counter-attack from Paco Herrera’s side as Michael Krohn-Dehli played Alex Lopez through on goal, but Valdés got down low to parry the midfielder’s effort. At this stage, an ordinary defense may have cleared the danger, but with little in the way of support, Valdés could only watch as Mario Bermejo tucked home the rebound to tie the scores at 1-1.

The two sides wouldn’t stay level for long though as David Villa quickly responded with a goal of his own to put Barcelona back ahead. The goal itself was a fairly straight-forward finish for a player of El Guaje’s calibre, but the build-up was simply sensational. Villa got the ball rolling so to speak with a fabulous back-heel into the area and Andrés Iniesta seized the initiative, as the Best Player in Europe surged to the Celta byline before cutting the ball back into the area for Villa to tap into an empty net. 26 minutes gone, and it was 2-1 Barca at the Camp Nou.

Unfortunately Barcelona were dealt a blow around the half-hour mark as Adriano signalled to the bench – the Brazilian looked in pain and clearly could not continue. Dani Alves took to the field as his replacement, forcing Sergio Busquets to move back into the heart of defense alongside Javier Mascherano as Tito switched to a four-man backline. With that switch, the Catalans looked a little better defensively and went in at the break with a slender lead.

Barcelona made one change at the break as Marc Bartra replaced Cesc Fàbregas, which allowed Busquets to move back into his favoured midfield role. It was a smart change from Tito – a little unexpected maybe, but it was certainly the correct decision to make. With a "proper" defense and a "proper" defensive midfielder, Barcelona could really take control of the game – and that’s exactly what they did – albeit with a little help from the assistant referee.

David Villa was the creator, helping the ball through the Celta defense to Jordi Alba with an astute back-heel. While Jordi was clearly offside, the assistant kept his flag by his side, allowing Alba to sidestep the keeper and hand Barcelona their third goal of the evening. With a two-goal cushion, Barca were in complete control although as Bostjan noted in the game thread, it’s possible that the assistant did not see Villa helping Messi’s pass onto Alba and that’s why he didn’t flag for offside. Whatever the case, it’s naive to suggest that this particular decision was what ended the game for Celta Vigo.

Alexis Sanchez replaced David Villa with less than a quarter of an hour remaining, and aside from a late scare where Lionel Messi required medical attention after colliding with a Celta defender, the final 15 minutes passed without anything real chances to note. Barcelona travel to Scotland on Wednesday where they will play SPL champions Celtic as they look to secure their place in the knock-out stages of the UEFA Champions League; be sure to join us for full coverage of that match as well. Visca el Barca!