Best-ever start in Club history for Tito Vilanova's Barça

FCB - CELTA / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The 2012/13 Barça squad are now the team with the best-ever start to a La Liga season in Club history with nine victories from ten matches

The 2012/13 Barça team have kicked off the season in brilliant fashion. The men managed by Tito Vilanova broke another record after beating Celta this evening in Week 10 of La Liga. Tonight’s victory was the team’s ninth from ten games, the best start in La Liga in Club history.

Up until today, the record for the best-ever start in Club history was held by Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman set the record in his first season with the Club, in 1997, when he led his team to eight victories from ten matches in the Liga.

32 goals in favour, 12 against

Barça have scored a total of 32 goals this season whilst only conceding 12. The Blaugrana will attempt to add to their winning streak next Sunday when they face Mallorca (17.50, GolT and Canal+ Liga).

Messi and Xavi offer the Golden Boot and the Príncipe de Asturias award to the Camp Nou faithful

Xavi and Messi / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
Leo Messi and Xavi Hernández offered up the Golden Boot and the Príncipe de Asturias to the fans at the Camp Nou just before kick off against Celta

Leo Messi and Xavi Hernández made the FC Barcelona fans active participants in the celebration of their individual successes by offering up the awards they won this week to the Camp Nou faithful minutes before the match against Celta.

Second Golden Boot for Messi

Messi, who became a father for the first time on Friday, offered up the Golden Boot trophy – the award given to the top scorer in European leagues – to the Camp Nou to the delight of the fans.

Prince Xavi

The Catalan vice-captain was also given a standing ovation by the fans at the Camp Nou before the match. Xavi Hernández offered up the Príncipe de Asturias award, which he won collectively with Iker Casillas, to the Culés in the stands.

Spanish League Preview Week 10

Puyol against Getafe / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
La Liga’s Champions League representatives are all in action on Saturday, with Valencia-Atletico Madrid looking like the pick of the bunch after Barça have hosted Celta

Falcao not the only threat for Atlético

On Saturday night, Valencia face high flying Atlético Madrid and their goal scoring machine Falcao, who has scored in 11 consecutive games . Valencia are one of the few La Liga teams that the Columbian hasn’t scored against , but  Portuguese defender Joao Pereira warned “Atlético aren’t just Falcao. There are other players who can play well and decide the game – we’ll need to play as a team and not just think about him”. Atletico boss Diego Simeone also forecast a close game, claiming: “we will be up against a big team, who are need of  the points and are obliged to go out and win – it’ll be a very tough game”.

Madrid without Xabi Alonso

Arbeloa is back for Real Madrid for their game against Zaragoza, ahead of a testing week with games against Dortmund and Llevant, but Mourinho is still without Marcelo and Coentrao, as well as midfielder Sami Khedira and the suspended Xabi Alonso. Malaga are seven points behind Barça and Atletico Madrid in third and they kick off the weekend’s action at home to Rayo, before Tuesday’s trip to Milan. Rayo’s midweek defeat away to second division Las Palmas was their third on the trot and they have won just once on the road so far this season, whereas Malaga remain unbeaten at home.

Time to start winning at the bottom

Sunday’s games should clarify some of the issues at the bottom, with Osasuna at home to Valladolid, Espanyol away to Real Sociedad and Granada and Bilbao meeting in Andalucia. Espanyol lost midweek in the Cup to Sevilla, Osasuna went down to Sporting, Granada were beaten in Zaragoza and Bilbao were held to a goalless draw by Eibar, so all of them will need to lift their game as they look for much needed points.  Third from bottom Deportivo drew 1-1 at home to Mallorca in their Cup game on Thursday and the two teams will be back at Riazor on Sunday, as the Islanders look to put a stop to a run of four straight league defeats.

Sevilla banker?

Sixth place Levante visit seventh spot Sevilla on Sunday night and with the Valencians having won once and lost three times on the road and Sevilla lost once and won three games at the Sanchez Pijuán so far this season, the wise money will probably be on a home win. Sevilla’s city neighbours Betis, who are fifth, play at Getafe, who are themselves comfortably positioned in eighth, a point behind Seville and a further two off Levante and Betis.

The players await kick off time at the team hotel

Leo Messi / PHOTO: ARCHIVE FCB
At noon, six hours before kick off at the Camp Nou, the FC Barcelona players gathered at the NH Hotel Constanza

Messi, who became a father on Friday, was named to the 19-man squad for this evening’s match

Tito Vilanova decided to change up the routine in the lead-up to today’s home match given that kick off against Celta is at 18.00. On this occasion the team did not hold a morning training session, but they did gather at the Camp Nou at noon before heading off to NH Constanza hotel, where they will remain until 16.30.

Messi among the 19 players named to the team

For this afternoon’s match, Vilanova has named 19 players to the team. Among them is Leo Messi, who, even though he didn’t train on Friday due to the birth of his first son, won’t miss today’s match at the Camp Nou. It’s a special day for the Barça forward as he’ll offer up the Golden Boot to the Camp Nou faithful minutes before kick off.

Messi won’t be the only footballer that the Barça fans will be able to congratulate. Xavi Hernández will also offer up the Príncipe de Asturias de los Deportes award that he received last week along with Real Madrid’s keeper, Iker Casillas.

FC Barcelona-Celta: Best ever start in sight

Leo Messi, Xavi i Song, en l'últim partit al Camp Nou.  / FOTO: Miguel Ruiz - FCB
18.00, GolT and Canal+Liga: Barça host Celta knowing that if they win, this will have been the club’s best ever start to a Liga campaign

After eight wins and a draw, Barça have the chance against Celta to seal their best ever record in the first ten games of a Liga season. It is thanks to this amazing start that they are top of the league, tied on points with Atlético Madrid, who are also on stunning form. However, it is Barça that has the better goal difference (29 for and 11 against), after winning all four games played since the last international break.

Lively build-up

The main focus of attention prior to the game has been Leo Messi. He missed training on Friday after becoming a father for the first time, but Tito Vilanova has said in his press conference that the Argentinian will most probably still be in the starting line-up.

But it looks like we might have to wait a little longer for Gerard Piqué’s return. “It is a matter of days”, said Vilanova. So, once again there is uncertainty regarding the centre of the FCB defence, with Mascherano, Bartra, Adriano and Song competing for two places. Having served his suspension in Vallecas, the Argentinian is expected to be involved on Saturday.

Home bred talent

Celta, meanwhile, are back at the Camp Nou for the first time in six seasons. They can feel reasonably happy with the way their return to top flight football has gone so far, where they are currently thirteenth with 13 points. Coach Paco Herrera has a squad that is firmly based around local talent and that likes to play passing football. At the moment, it is at home that they have been showing the best form, while their four road trips so far this season have all ended in defeats.

Like Barça, Celta have problems in the centre of defence to contend with. Herrera is missing the suspended Cabral, and also the injured Samuel. Midfielder Insúa is also sidelined.