FC Barcelona (2nd, 19pts) vs RC Celta Vigo (11th, 10pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Saturday
Competition/Round: 2022-23 La Liga, Matchday 8
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, Memphis Depay, Franck Kessie, Héctor Bellerín (out)
Celta Vigo Outs & Doubts: None
Date/Time: Sunday, October 9, 2022, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Monday)
Venue: Spotify Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Jose Luis Munuera Montero
VAR: José Luis González González
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA, Spain), TSN 2 (Canada), Premier Sports 1 (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Sports18 (India), others
How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), Premier Player (UK), DAZN (Spain), others
Following a painful defeat to Inter Milan to make their Champions League lives incredibly complicated, Barcelona return home to the Greatest Stadium on Earth for some Sunday Night Fútbol fun in La Liga against Celta Vigo.
The loss in Italy was costly in all sorts of ways, with a big refereeing controversy, a very poor performance and more nad injury luck in what’s becoming a true crisis that is really testing the depth of a squad still trying to find itself with so many new names and a brutal October schedule.
Xavi Hernández disappointed once again in another big European test and the young coach must learn quickly from his mistakes, both with team selection and tactical approach in continental matches. There are three games left in the group stage and Barça control their destiny, but Xavi must find a way to get his team to play as well in Europe as they do in Spain.
But it’s undeniable that Xavi has the right formula for La Liga games, which is why Barça finished last weekend top of the table for the first time in 28 months. Real Madrid went back on top with a narrow win over Getafe on Saturday, but all Barça need is a 1-0 victory of their won to go back to first place and arrive at the Santiago Bernabéu next Sunday as the league leaders on goal difference.
It won’t be easy to get even a 1-0 win against Celta, though. The Sky Blues are having a solid season, and are coming off a big win at home over a great Real Betis side. They did lose big on the road against Atlético Madrid and Valencia before the victory over Betis, however, which suggests they are still struggling to find a way to compete against the big teams away from home.
Xavi might be forced to rotate his squad and go with a few inexperienced players from Barça Atlètic to preserve bodies for the massive game against Inter next Wednesday, so Celta could be facing a weaker Barça side on Sunday. Whatever the lineup is, though, Barça will be considered favorites and will want to get over the disaster in Milan and try to play as well as they can beyond just getting three points.
Celta are always a tough test, Barça haven’t played well since the international break, are missing big names through injury and could be looking ahead to the two giant clashes next week. This has all the makings of a trap game, and we’ll see if Barça can show character and strength to put together a great performance and send the crowd home happy.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Eric, Alba; Gavi, Busquets, Pedri; Ferran, Lewandowski, Fati
Celta Vigo (4-1-3-2): Marchesín; Mallo, Aidoo, Nuñez, Galán; Beltrán; Cervi, Veiga, Rodríguez; Pérez, Aspas
The performances since the international break combined with the injuries and how well Celta usually play against Barça have left me incredibly nervous for this one, but I think the team will play angry after the Inter loss and respond well to gain confidence for the huge week ahead of them: 3-0 to the good guys.