Barcelona will be looking to extend their winning start under Ronald Koeman when they travel to face Celta Vigo in La Liga on Thursday (8:30pm kick-off).
Koeman replaced Quique Setien over the summer and, after a delayed start due to their Champions League run last season, opened the 2020/21 campaign with a 4-0 win over Villarreal. It was a largely one-sided match with Koeman’s side showing early signs of moving away from the system that had both helped and hindered them over the years.
But they face a completely different task in Celta Vigo, who will press Barcelona as Villarreal didn’t, hounding the Blaugrana at every chance they get. And this is a Celta Vigo side still unbeaten in La Liga, currently third in the table, winning one and drawing two of their opening three games so far.
Celta Vigo also have recent history on their side, unbeaten in their last five home league games against Barcelona, winning three and drawing two. Balaidos is also one of Barcelona’s least favourite grounds to visit, losing six times there in the 21st century. Only at Santiago Bernabeu (seven) have they lost more in La Liga this century.
So, what will break on Thursday? Celta Vigo’s home run against Barcelona, or Ronald Koeman’s bubble?
Where to watch Celta Vigo vs Barcelona on TV:
- UK: LaLigaTV
- US: beIN SPORTS
Where to live stream Celta Vigo vs Barcelona:
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Celta Vigo & Barcelona’s previous line-ups:
- Celta Vigo (vs Real Valladolid): Villar; Mallo, Aidoo, Murillo, Olaza; Beltran, Tapia; Suarez, Mor, Nolito; Aspas.
- Barcelona (vs Villarreal): Neto; Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, De Jong; Griezmann, Coutinho, Fati; Messi.
Neither side has any fresh injury worries following their most recent games, but both managers may be persuaded to rotate to keep their players in good condition with a busy fixture schedule.
Players to watch:
Celta Vigo: Celta Vigo have some promise going forward but Thursday’s game will be all about stopping Barcelona from playing their game, with the focus on Joseph Aidoo and the defence. Celta Vigo have been pretty solid defensively in their opening three games so far, conceding just two goals, and keeping a clean sheet in their opener against Eibar. Ghanaian centre-back Aidoo has been pretty key to that, with his reading of the game and ability to get rid of danger, making 23 clearances so far, more than any other La Liga player this season. It won’t be an easy evening for the 25-year-old but if he’s on his game, then Celta Vigo’s chances of at least a draw will be boosted.
Barcelona: One of Barcelona’s biggest problems over the past few years has been their dependency on Lionel Messi. But Koeman has already shown signs of moving away from that, which allowed Ansu Fati to thrive against Villarreal. The youngster saw his playing time hampered over the past few seasons as Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien opted for different formations and more experienced names. But he was handed a start on the left of Koeman’s 4-2-3-1, with Messi playing as the striker. And the 4-0 win over Villarreal was the Fati show. It took the Spaniard just 15 minutes to take control of the game, opening the scoring with a wonderful strike, having linked up with Messi. He then completed a counter-attack later in the game with a cool finish. Outside of scoring, Fati was a constant threat on the ball, looking to create chances and won the penalty for Messi’s goal. Fati will feature quite heavily under Koeman, and Barcelona look set to benefit massively.