Barcelona have won a seventh consecutive La Liga game and will finish the weekend top of the table for the second straight week thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Celta Vigo at the Spotify Camp Nou on Sunday night. Barça played very well for the first 20 minutes and scored their only goal of the game through Pedri, and the rest of the night was about survival as the Blaugrana forgot how to play and had to face huge pressure from a very good Celta side that deserved at least a point from the match.
Barça made an excellent start to the game, dominating possession and moving the ball quickly from side to side and finding spaces between the lines. They also pressed high and defended with good intensity, winning the ball in dangerous positions and forcing Celta goalkeeper Agustin Marchesín to make three big saves in the first 15 minutes.
The Blaugrana deserved a goal for their early efforts, and they got it in the 17th minute: Jordi Alba made a great long pass to find Gavi, who had his cross poorly cleared by Unai Núñez and Pedri was quick to the ball to score an easy opener.
The home team continued to have possession but their levels dropped for the rest of the half, and Barça were unable to create any danger in the final 25 minutes. The attack was slow and predictable, and both Ferran Torres and Robert Lewandowski struggled to get involved in the action.
Only Raphinha was a real threat in the front three, and the Brazilian had a legitimate shout for a penalty when he was tackled by Javi Galán inside the box. But both the referee and VAR ignored his complaints, and Barça were denied a chance to double their lead.
Despite their issues offensively Barça were disciplined and secure at the back, and Marc-André ter Stegen never needed to make an important intervention for the home team. Celta had a couple of half-chances, but in truth the Catalans’ defense was never in trouble.
At halftime Barça were on top and should have scored more than just one goal after starting so well, but had a narrow lead and still needed to finish the job in the second half.
Barça made an awful start to the second half, unable to keep hold of the ball and break the Celta press and losing the ball in very dangerous spots which gave the visitors big chances to equalize.
Óscar Rodríguez had the two best opportunities of the game, but missed the target on the first and saw the second blocked on the line by Marcos Alonso. Celta were clearly the best team 20 minutes into the period, and Barça needed to improve.
Xavi Hernández made a triple change with Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembélé and Frenkie de Jong all coming off the bench to try and increase the quality of Barça’s attacking play, but things didn’t change in the first few minutes after the substitutions and Celta continued to attack and pin the Blaugrana in their own final third.
The visitors finally found the back of the net in the 70th minute with a header from Jorgen Larsen, but Javi Galán was offside at the start of the play and the goal was correctly disallowed. Barça got away with another one, and they really needed a second goal.
They couldn’t even create a real chance to get a second, so the final 10 minutes were all about survival for Barça as Celta sent everyone forward and continued to threaten and create chances.
Ter Stegen was very busy, making a sensational point-blank save against Iago Aspas and getting his hands on plenty of balls to keep Barça from conceding. Celta kept on applying pressure and the equalizer felt like a certainty in the final seconds, but Barça somehow found a way to hang on to the lead and the final whistle came to give them all three points.
This was another bad performance after the international break and there’s very little reason to trust this team ahead of the massive games against Inter Milan and Real Madrid next week. But the team showed great resilience and somehow found a way to win this one, and that attitude might help them if they can figure out how to play football again.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Balde (Roberto 77’), Piqué, Alonso, Alba (Eric 86’); Pedri (De Jong 63’), Busquets, Gavi; Raphinha (Dembélé 63’), Lewandowski, Ferran (Ansu Fati 63’)
Goal: Pedri (17’)
Celta Vigo: Marchesín; Mallo (Mingueza 90+3’), Aidoo, Núñez, Galán; Beltrán; Cervi (Paciência 84’), Veiga (Solari 75’), Rodríguez; Aspas, Larsen (Pérez 75’)