Barca head into El Clasico top
Barcelona’s win over Celta means the Catalan giants will head into next weekend’s Clasico top of the table which is what Xavi said he wanted before the game.
What he definitely didn’t want was a pretty poor second-half performance that will probably have Los Blancos licking their lips at the thought of revenge for the 4-0 defeat last time out.
Barcelona started the game well but couldn’t add to Pedri’s opener and were lucky to escape with all three points after giving up a host of chances.
Xavi’s side will have to be much better if they are to overcome a tough week that starts with a must-win game against Inter on Wednesday in the Champions League before the trip to the Bernabeu.
The coach will know as much but insisted after the game that form pretty much goes out of the window when Barcelona meet their fierce rivals.
“We have to savour these three points because they are important keep us top,” he said. “The Clasico is unpredictable. Last year we went into badly and end up winning 4-0. We will try to win and show character like we did last season.”
Doubts ahead of crucial Inter clash
Barcelona must face Inter before they can start thinking about Madrid and Sunday’s showing will be of concern to Xavi ahead of a game his team simply have to get something from.
Celta enjoyed 41% possession at the Camp Nou and managed 14 efforts on goal. You suspect that if Barcelona are that generous against Inter next time out then their place in the Europa League will be all but assured.
The Nerazzurri will be happy with a point at the Camp Nou which likely means they will sit deep too, something that usually tends to frustrate the life out of Barcelona.
Barca shouldn’t lack for motivation given the stakes, and the sense of injustice after the first leg, but will need to improve at both ends of the pitch if they are to get back on track in the Champions League.
Ter Stegen gets one over Aspas
One of the few positives from the match was the sight of Barca keeping yet another clean sheet. Remarkably Xavi’s side have still only conceded once in La Liga so far this season which is a pretty impressive record.
1 - Barcelona have conceded just one goal in LaLiga 2022/23, the fourth time a team has conceded one or fewer goals after the first eight games of a season, after Deportivo in 1993/94 (1), Real Madrid in 1997/98 (1) and Barça themselves in 2014/15 (0). Strength. pic.twitter.com/5AyKFaMP0V— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 10, 2022
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is on his best ever run without conceding a goal and extended that stretch against Celta. The stats show that the German is the top stopper in Europe right now.
19 - Barcelona’s Marc-André Ter Stegen has saved 19 of his 20 shots on target faced in @LaLigaEN this season. The German's 95% save percentage is the best tally in the competition this campaign and the best in the Top 5 European Leagues among the goalies with 5+ saves. Wall. pic.twitter.com/9Dh3L1eA5A— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 9, 2022
The German also come out on top against Iago Aspas for once. The Celta striker usually reserves his best form for Barcelona and did have a glorious chance to level late on but could not beat Ter Stegen.
That’s now seven clean sheets from eight games for the Barca goalkeeper in La Liga, 720 minutes played in total and currently 624 without being beaten.
“Two weeks ago, you said there was Lewandowski-dependency,” Xavi noted after the match. Now it’s TerStegen-dependency, and in a few days it will be Pedri-dependency.”
Gavi and Pedri lead the way
Xavi could probably also add Gavi-dependency to his list after a phenomenal showing by the 18-year-old. Pedri will take the headlines for scoring the winner but Gavi arguably edged his team-mate.
It was his run and drive that teed up Pedri for the only goal of the game but there was so much more than that to admire from the Barcelona youngster.
Perhaps the best moment of all was when he ran back and produced a delicious tackle to take the ball off Aspas inside his own half. Moments later he was to be found at the other end of pitch, connecting with a cross and going close to scoring.
The second best moment of the match arguably came from Pedri. The goalscorer had the crowd purring when he nutmegged Hugo Mallo and then beat three men before finding Ferran Torres.
Yet Gavi was deservedly man of the match. He was simply everywhere, throughout the whole 90 minutes, and seemed to annoy the life out of the Celta players.
What Barcelona need now is for their talented teenagers to repeat those performances against Inter and Real Madrid.
Torres struggles continue
Elsewhere, it wasn’t such a good night for Ferran Torres who is continuing to struggle at Barcelona. The January signing was handed a rare start but was gone just after the hour after making little impact.
It seems obvious that Ferran is lacking in confidence and an early miss won’t have helped him feel any better. There were a few whistles from the crowd aimed at Torres too which certainly won’t help him find his form either.
The Spain international is likely to be feeling the pressure too and will know that chances are not going to come along too often this season either with Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Ousmane Dembele, and Ansu Fati around.
Xavi said before the match that Torres was training well and will play an important role this season. However, it’s hard to see that happening right now. Dembele will surely return to the starting XI for the games against Real Madrid and Inter, meaning Torres will be back on the bench again.