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La Liga: Celta Vigo 2-2 FC Barcelona: Match Review

A recap of Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo. I suppose the FIFA Virus was going to catch up to us at some stage...

Denis Doyle

FC Barcelona were held to a surprise 2-2 draw at the Balaidos tonight, as a late header from Borja Oubiña secured a point for Abel Resino’s Celta Vigo. The hosts had a goal disallowed before they eventually took the lead on 38 minutes through Natxo Insa. Barcelona hit back through Cristian Tello, and even took the lead themselves in the second-half courtesy of another goal from Lionel Messi. However, they had performed poorly throughout the match and a point was about as much as they deserved.






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The Blaugrana fielded a "weakened" starting XI, as Marc Bartra, Martin Montoya, Alex Song, Thiago Alcântara and Cristian Tello were all handed starts. However, they were joined by Alexis Sánchez, Cesc Fàbregas, Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué; oh and an Argentine striker named Lionel Messi. Even after rotating the squad, Barcelona must have been confident ahead of tonight’s match against Celta Vigo; would they be able to secure the three points and temporarily extend their lead at the top of La Liga?

Barcelona started slowly; without Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta, the Blaugrana were struggling to keep possession, and even with the likes of Thiago and Fàbregas in midfield, Barça were also struggling to create chances. Celta Vigo on the other hand were pressing intelligently – not wasting their energy by needlessly chasing the ball all over the field, but exerting pressure at the right time to retrieve possession. If it wasn’t for the linesman’s flag, Celta would have taken the lead too – Augusto Fernandez applied the finish only to see his effort correctly ruled out.

Maybe that scare would kick-start Barcelona’s match?

Not likely; the mistakes continued and Celta capitalised – first forcing a double-save out of Jose Manuel Pinto and then (deservedly) taking the lead on 38 minutes through Natxo Insa. Atrocious defending from Gerard Piqué created space for Fabian Orellana; cutting inside from the right-hand side of the Barcelona penalty area, the Chilean scuffed his shot and the ball rather fortuitously fell to Natxo Insa who finished past Jose Pinto to put Celta 1-0 up. Sure, there was an element of luck involved in the goal, but Celta deserved that lucky break; Barcelona hadn’t turned up.

Fortunately, Celta were not ahead for long; Cristian Tello levelled the scores on the stroke of half-time with a superb finish after yet another assist from Lionel Messi. Not content with his record-breaking tally of goals, Messi has now provided 17 assists for his teammates – the second-highest total on the Barcelona roster – while Tello has now notched six goals this season, just one less than Pedro who has played a staggering 1724 minutes more than his compatriot...

Jordi Roura resisted the urge to make a change at the interval, although the temptation to introduce David Villa or Andrés Iniesta must have been high. At present, Barcelona just weren’t getting the job done. By his own high standards, Lionel Messi was having a quiet game, as was Alexis Sánchez; while Cesc Fabreagas was completely anonymous – periodically resurfacing to argue with the referee. Surely a change was imminent, or were Barça content to grab a single point against relegation-threatened opposition?

He may have had to wait until after the hour-mark, but Andrés Iniesta did enter the field of play in the second-half, replacing Thiago in the centre of midfield on 65 minutes and he was soon joined by David Villa who replaced Alexis Sánchez. Celta responded with a change of their own – former Bayern Munich midfielder Danijel Pranjic was taken off for Enrique de Lucas – and the match appeared to heading for a draw. Bartra couldn’t capitalise on Cesc Fàbregas’ corner and Barcelona had registered just two shots on target in the entire match.

Luckily for them, they still had Lionel Messi. The Argentine had scored in his last eighteen La Liga appearances (a world record) and if he could score tonight, it would complete the "cycle". Initially, it looked as though he had set Cristian Tello up for a shot at goal with another exceptional through ball, but Tello knew the angle was too tight for a shot at goal, so he sent the ball into the area and Messi was on hand to tap the ball into the back of the net – it may have taken 73 minutes, but Barça were finally ahead. Messi’s streak would continue and the three points were secure – weren’t they?

Celta weren’t prepared to give up without a fight – unlike Barcelona, they need to fight tooth and nail from here on in just to secure their place in the division, and ultimately that was enough to win a share of the spoils. Barcelona clearly had one eye on Paris Saint-Germain and as a result, the motivation wasn’t really there; another defensive mistake was made and this time it was Borja Oubiña who took advantage. With less than five minutes left to play, Celta had clawed their way back into the tie and earned themselves a valuable point in the fight for survival.

Next up, Barcelona travel to France to take on PSG, before hosting Real Mallorca at the Camp Nou. Until then, Visca el Barça!

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