Barcelona’s home game against Celta Vigo this Saturday (5pm GMT) is one which should see them continue their very impressive run at the top of the table.
Barcelona’s 5-0 win against Rayo Vellacano last weekend gave many subplots behind the final score. It was certainly a game that played out differently than the score line suggests. It was a big win for Tito Vilanova’s team but one that only started to form towards the end of the game. For large parts with the score 2-0, Rayo took the game to Barcelona and were dangerous, difficult to play against and more than held firm in the belief that the Vallecas is a difficult place to visit.
The possession was much more evenly shared between the two teams. The final stat of 57% would have seemed astonishing under Pep Guardiola. But as I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s a different Barcelona we’re seeing now.
The most in-form midfielder in La Liga is unquestionably Cesc Fabregas, who added another two assists and an excellent goal in the 5-0 win.
Under Guardiola, Fabregas operated in the advanced three and often in tandem with Lionel Messi. But with Vilanova taking over this season, Fabregas has dropped deeper into the midfield and taken up the role that saw him flourish at Arsenal.
It’s becoming a Fabregas team from the midfield and it’s absolutely imperative Barcelona get that ball rolling. Xavi’s age and Achilles problems means he simply can’t be the engine room of this team for the entire length of the season. Rather, it’s down to the manager to use Fabregas in the manner that saw him become such a coveted target for the Catalan club during his time in England. He is once again becoming the natural heir to Xavi’s throne.
But here’s the thing: Barcelona have somehow managed to form two teams, or a team with two focal points aside from Lionel Messi. Xavi is always going to be the central figure when he plays, but Fabregas’ inclusion gives the team an equal threat from the midfield when he’s the prominent figure. The former Arsenal captain’s tally of seven league assists so far tells as much.
Prior to the game against Rayo, Paco Jemez, the Rayo manager, said he wanted to play an open game and attack Barcelona. They did and it was admirable, but they lost playing a passing game against the best passing team in football. What we can take from that is a Barcelona team who seem unbeatable and are resilient against any manner of opposition.
Vilanova opted for Adriano at centre-back and once again left Marc Bartra on the bench. It certainly worked and the clean sheet is evidence of that, but we’re seeing Victor Valdes move away from playing the ball out to the either of the centre-backs.
Last season, Gary Neville did a spectacular job of highlighting this aspect of Barcelona’s game, in which they’d play the ball out from the goalkeeper and move it up the pitch. What Rayo did was push high up the pitch, forcing Barcelona to either play it long or to move it quickly. Every Barcelona player was man-marked and it gave Rayo plenty of opportunities to catch them off guard.
With a view to this weekend’s game, it won’t be a big problem against Celta, but it’s certainly something that is accentuated when facing better opposition.
It needs to be pointed out that Barcelona are still not at their best. Despite seeing the emergence of Fabregas as an undeniable asset in the team, they’re still capable of shipping goals and dropping points. They’ve kept two clean sheets since the game against Celtic, and even then they really struggled to come from behind and get the win.
Again, Celta shouldn’t be a huge problem this weekend, but when Barcelona do finally move through the gears at pace, they may once again be unstoppable.
Celta Vigo picked up a point in the Galician derby last week against Deportivo. Celta took the lead early but saw Depor equalise just before the half hour mark. Celta were perhaps lucky to come away with a draw having seen Gustavo Cabral sent off.
Barcelona v Celta Vigo Betting Tips Advice
The visiting side to the Nou Camp this weekend are in 13th place in the league table but are yet to secure any away points this season. Celta Vigo (28/1 with BetVictor and Stan James to win this game) have conceded eight goals in their four away games. I can only see Barcelona (best at 1/10 with William Hill & Pinnacle) adding to that with a win. I don’t fancy the draw, which is biggest at 12/1 with BetVictor.
- Barcelona have scored eight goals in their last two games with six coming in the second half. Therefore, bet on the second half to be the highest scoring half @ 1/1 (evens) with Boylesports.
- Barcelona have also scored five goals in each of their last two league games. Back them to score over 4.5 goals @ 12/5 with Bet365.