Barcelona have wasted a big opportunity to keep pressure on La Liga leaders Real Madrid and could see the title race practically end this weekend thanks to a 2-2 draw away to Celta Vigo on Saturday. The Blaugrana were pretty good for most of the match, but defensive mistakes cost them two big points on the road and maybe the whole season.
Barça played a very good first half, dominating possession and finding ways to attack a deep block by the home team with constant movement in the final third: full-backs were overlapping, midfielders were making run after run, and Lionel Messi was trying to find everybody with beautiful pass after beautiful pass.
The Blaugrana constantly found themselves in dangerous positions, but couldn’t quite finish thanks to timely blocks and challenges by the Celta defense. Then Lionel Messi did a Lionel Messi thing: instead of taking a direct free-kick from the edge of the box, the captain lofted a perfect cross into Luis Suárez, who had a simple header and gave Barça the lead.
At halftime Barça were playing very well and deserved the win. They just needed to finish the job.
Celta started the second half pressing very high and trying to force Barça into mistakes, and that’s what they did: holding midfielder Okay Yokuslu somehow found himself in loads of space after receiving a pass from midfield with only Ter Stegen in front of him, and the Celta man gave his teammate Smolov an easy tap-in.
Barça did not let the equalizer mess with their rhythm and continued to attack and press themselves, and after a ball recovered inside the box by Ansu Fati and Messi, Suárez scored a gorgeous second goal to put his team ahead once again. Then the game went crazy: both team started to attack each other and leave loads of spaces, and Barça had their chances to score but couldn’t while the defense continued to gift Celta good opportunities to equalize.
As we reached the final minutes it looked like Barça were going to survive the craziness, but Iago Aspas won a free-kick at the edge of the box and scored a beauty around the wall and into the bottom corner to equalize again and win a valuable point for the hosts. The final whistle came, and Barça may have lost the La Liga title today. To make things worst, they didn’t really deserve to lose. Football, I guess.
Celta: Rubén; Vázquez, Aidoo, Sáenz, Araújo (Murillo 73’), Jacobo (Mina 81’); Méndez (Bradaric 60’), Yokuslu (Rafinha 60’), Denis; Aspas, Smolov (Nolito 60’)
Goals: Smolov (50’), Aspas (88’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba (Firpo 81’); Vidal, Rakitic, Puig (Arthur 86’); Messi, Suárez (Griezmann 81’), Ansu Fati (Braithwaite 69’)
Goals: Suárez (20’, 67’)