Barcelona finished the 2022-23 La Liga season with a defeat, losing 2-1 to Celta Vigo at Balaídos on Sunday’s season finale. Barça had nothing to play for and faced a desperate side trying to avoid relegation, and the two contrasting attitudes showed on the pitch as Celta fought for their lives while Barça just cruised to the finish of a long and successful campaign.
Celta needed a win to guarantee safety but couldn’t afford to take too many risks, so the home team was happy to give Barça all of the possession and set up in a compact mid-block to deny spaces and keep the Blaugrana from creating chances.
Barça needed to be patient on the ball and not make poor mistakes, and for the most part they did the job well and managed to create some good chances. Franck Kessie had a goal disallowed for a narrow offside and missed the biggest opportunity of the half by missing an easy header after a brilliant cross from Robert Lewandowski, and Lewandowski himself almost scored the opener with a sensational curling shot from outside the box that hit the post.
The Celeste did very little with their limited time on the ball to create real chances, but thanks to a bad mistake from Barça the home team found themselves ahead: Frenkie De Jong lost the ball in midfield and the back four did a terrible job of stopping Celta’s quick transition, and Gabri Veiga was allowed to run free past three defenders to beat Marc-André ter Stegen and give Celta the lead.
At halftime Barça had a lot of the ball and missed great chances, but their lack of efficiency and a bad mistake at the back saw them behind going into the final 45 minutes of their season.
Celta were securing safety and were ready to defend the lead with their lives in the second half, which meant they would be even more difficult to beat and Barça had to be more precise and dynamic on the ball to have a real chance of a comeback.
But the champions played very much like this was the last game of their season and were very slow in possession, and started leaving plenty of gaps in behind for Celta to explore on the counter.
And with 25 minutes to go, Celta doubled their lead on a counter with an accidental but beautiful goal as Gabri Veiga’s attempted cross went over reserve keeper Iñaki Peña and into the net off the post.
Barça seemed completely out of it going into the final 10 minutes, but a piece of individual brilliance gave them a chance: Ousmane Dembélé came off the bench and played a perfect cross into the box to find another substitute in Ansu Fati, who ran in behind the Celta defenders and headed it home.
The champions tried to push for a late equalizer but Celta fought for their lives in the dying seconds, and the final whistle came to guarantee safety for the home team and end Barça’s season on a bittersweet note.
Barça had good moments on the night but very much cruised while Celta gave everything they had to save themselves. Losing the season finale is never fun, but Barça are deserving champions and finish a long and difficult season with two trophies and a bright future ahead.
Well done, boys!
Celta Vigo: Villar; Mingueza (Vázquez 67’), Domínguez, Núñez, Galán; Pérez, Beltrán, Rodríguez, De La Torre (Tapia 71’); Veiga (Cervi 71’), Seferovic (Aspas 78’)
Goals: Veiga (42’, 65’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen (Peña 63’); Roberto, Kounde, Christensen (Gavi 46’), Alonso; Kessie, Eric (Torre 72’), De Jong; Raphinha (Dembélé 63’), Lewandowski, Ferran (Fati 63’)
Goal: Fati (79’)