Oh hey, La Liga is back! A week after a very entertaining match at the Mestalla, league leaders Barcelona return to action on Saturday’s early kickoff against Celta Vigo at Camp Nou.
This will be a nice game to watch because we’ll get to see a man Barça fans seem to like a lot: Juan Carlos Unzué, who was the assistant to Luis Enrique during a successful three-year period. Unzué has worked at the club for years, and he decided to leave Barça to become a head coach. He’s found a nice home at Celta, and his team has been impressive at times.
Celta play a very aggressive, possession-based style with high pressing and some great buildup play from the back. That leads to lots of goals in their games, both for and against, and one thing that is almost always guaranteed with Unzué’s Celta is excitement.
They’ve been highly inconsistent in terms of results, but their style of play is very attractive and competitive at the same time. Unzué will have an extra motivation to get a result as well: he was rumored to take over the managerial job at Barça once Enrique left, but the board decided he was too inexperienced and went with Ernesto Valverde.
On Saturday afternoon, Unzué will be looking to prove he could have been the right choice. After all, if he’s making Celta Vigo an exciting team, then it’s certainly possible to do it at Barça.
MATCH INFO, TV/STREAMING
Date/Time: Saturday, December 2, 2017, 1pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 12pm GMT (UK), 7am ET, 4am PT (USA), 5:30pm IST (India)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia
TV listings: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), Sky Sports Football (UK), Canal+ Sport 3 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 2 (India)
Online streaming: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), Sky GO (UK), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)
(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)
There won’t be any big surprises in terms of team selection this weekend. All of the big names (apart from Gerard Piqué) were rested in the 5-0 win against Real Murcia in midweek, so expect the superstars back in the lineup. The only real doubt with Valverde seems to be whether he goes with a 4-man midfield behind Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi, or if Paco Alcácer plays up front with the two and makes the team more attacking. Given Celta’s defensive deficiencies and the fact Barça are playing at home, Valverde will most likely go with Alcácer.
There won’t be any Nélson Semedo or Gerard Deulofeu in this one as they’ll be rested for the Champions League against Sporting on Wednesday, when Barça are expected to rotate as well. Sergi Roberto will probably be the right-back on Saturday, making his first start since returning from injury.
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi; Alcácer, Suárez
Celta Vigo (4-4-2)
Blanco; Mallo, Fontàs, Cabral, Roncaglia; Wass, Hernández, Lobotka, Sisto; Gómez, Aspas
Unzué and Celta will make things tough for a long time, but their defense is a little too weak for Barça: 2-0 to the hosts.