Barcelona have won their last three La Liga games in a row and are just two points away from a second-place finish thanks to a 3-1 win over Celta Vigo on Tuesday night at Camp Nou. Barça didn’t play their best game but were the better team on the night and scored three nice goals to continue the good run as they look to finish the season strong.
Xavi Hernández made a big formation change without Sergio Busquets, going to a very attacking 3-3-3-1 system that did not work at all in the opening 30 minutes. Barça looked confused and disorganized on the pitch, constantly allowing spaces in behind the backline and struggling to keep possession early on.
Celta were the best team for most of the half, and could have scored at least once if not for some amazing defending by Ronald Araujo and two huge saves by Marc-André ter Stegen. After a terrible half-hour of football, Xavi went back to the familiar 4-3-3 and the difference was night and day: the home team looked comfortable and creative, and the chances finally came.
They also got two goals: the first came after a very good run and assist by Ousmane Dembélé and a good finish by Memphis Depay, and the second started with a wonderful pass by Jordi Alba to find Memphis and ended with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showing his opportunism to take advantage of a bad clearance by Néstor Araújo and find the bottom corner with his left foot to double Barça’s lead.
At halftime Barça were in control after a strong finish to the first half, but still had work to do to complete the job against a Celta side that were very much still in the game ahead of the final period.
Barça started the second half by scoring a third goal on a lightning-quick counter-attack, which was finished by Dembélé’s second assist of the night to find Aubameyang for his second goal of the game.
There was no time to celebrate and get comfortable as Celta scored less than a minute later, after Marc-André ter Stegen gave the ball away with a bad pass and Thiago Galhardo found Iago Aspas all alone inside the box to make it 3-1.
Celta played very well in the initial minutes after scoring the goal, but their hopes were dashed by a sending off when Jeison Murrilo denied Memphis a clear goalscoring opportunity and was given a straight red card.
Then things got scary, very fast: Ronald Araujo and Gavi clashed heads in the air in midfield and Araujo went down on his own a few seconds later, with his teammates desperately asking for medical help. An ambulance came onto the pitch immediately and took the Uruguayan to the hospital, and it was hard to concentrate on the game after the incident.
But there were still 20 minutes left to play, and Barça were in full control in that period. They even scored a fourth through Riqui Puig, but the goal was called off for offside. There was very little action in the dying moments, and Barça just ran out the clock.
The final whistle came to make it three wins in a row for the Blaugrana who are now just two points away from finishing second in the table. This wasn’t a vintage performance by any means and the Araujo scare took away all the fun from the night, but three good goals and three points are nice positives to take from this one.
The only thing that matters, though, is Ronald Araujo. Get well soon, Warrior. We love you.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alves (Mingueza 89’), Araujo (Lenglet 68’), Eric; Gavi, F. De Jong, Alba; Dembélé, Memphis (Fati 65’), Ferran (Puig 46’); Aubameyang (L. De Jong 84’)
Goals: Memphis (30’), Aubameyang (41’, 48’)
Celta Vigo: Dituro; Vázquez (Murillo 46’), Aidoo, Araújo, Galán; Beltrán (Veiga 90’); Méndez, Suárez (Fontán 90’), Cervi (Solari 90+7’); Aspas, Galhardo (Tapia 60’)
Goal: Aspas (50’)
Red Card: Murillo (58’)