Barcelona will look to continue an amazing month of September and win their third straight home game in all competitions when they welcome Celta Vigo to the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Blaugrana came back on fire from the international break, with a pair of brilliant 5-0 wins with top performances from several players and a whole lot of exciting attacking football for fans to enjoy. But the schedule gets tougher now, not only with more challenging opponents but very little time to rest and recover.
Barça will play three games in a span of seven days starting with this weekend’s clash, presenting a challenge for coach Xavi Hernández to rotate his squad while looking to maintain the high level of football from the last two games. Here’s how we think the coach will line up his troops against the side from Galicia on Saturday.
Because Barça played on Tuesday and don’t have to travel for this one, we probably won’t see Xavi pull the trigger on heavy rotations which will probably come on Tuesday’s trip to Mallorca, so it’s safe to expect a similar team to the one that destroyed Royal Antwerp in the Champions League opener.
But we could still see a couple of changes, with one of them likely to come at the back: Andreas Christensen played all 90 minutes on Tuesday after also playing against Real Betis in the previous game, which suggests the Dane will be rested for this one with Ronald Araujo ready to return to the squad.
Araujo isn’t likely to start, however, so Jules Kounde will probably have a new partner in Iñigo Martínez, who had been catching up to speed with the team in terms of fitness but should be ready for his first start now. João Cancelo and Alejandro Balde will start at the full-back spots, though there’s a chance Marcos Alonso gets the nod if Xavi decides to rest Balde.
You always look for hints about the coach’s thinking for the next game based on his substitutions from the last one, so the fact Xavi decided to pull both Gavi and Frenkie de Jong in the 60th minute against Antwerp is a strong suggestion that the boss plans to start both again on Saturday.
Ilkay Gündogan played all 90 on Tuesday, and the German might be back on the bench for this one with Oriol Romeu returning to the team. Celta are a stronger, more physical side than Antwerp which calls for Romeu’s strength in the middle, and the summer signing has already proven he’s a perfect fit in the system alongside De Jong.
João Félix has announced himself as a key piece of the team and proved he was right to publicly demand a move to Barça in the summer, scoring three goals in his first two starts and looking like a superstar and a perfect fit for the Barça attack and Xavi’s system.
The Portugal international deserves to stay in the team and get even more comfortable in his new surroundings, and we’ll see him start on the left wing again alongside Robert Lewandowski who scored again on Tuesday and is qucikly returning to his best version.
The big question for Xavi at this moment is who starts on the right wing: Raphinha, Ferran Torres and Lamine Yamal have all played really well for club and country this month and all three deserve to start this one, and it’s really a shot in the dark to predict Xavi’s choice. We’re going with Yamal here, but it really could be any of the three.
Possible XI (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Cancelo, Kounde, Iñigo, Balde; Gavi, Romeu, De Jong; Yamal, Lewandowski, Félix
How do you think Barcelona should line up against Celta Vigo? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and teams in the comments below!