Barcelona welcome Celta Vigo to the Camp Nou this weekend as the league leaders look to extend their gap on top.
Ernesto Valverde’s men have had an incredible season thus far and will look to continue their dominance of the league as they face up against a formidable Celta Vigo side.
German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has become a fixture in the starting XI in recent times and rightfully so.
The shot-stopper has made some key saves this season and is a big factor in the success of the Barca side.
Valverde will want to revert to his most popular choices in regard to the defensive line, following Gerard Pique’s return from suspension. Nelson Semedo is beginning to look like a permanent choice for right back going forward and will certainly be amongst the starting XI come Saturday.
Pique and Umiti will look to resume their pairing in the middle while Jordi Alba will remain at left-back following his crucial goal in their last league game against Valencia.
The four in midfield will be a key to the success of the Catalan giants in the game against Celta Vigo. Busquets will be the defensive anchor for Barcelona with help from Rakitic, meaning 33-year-old maestro Andres Iniesta can push further up the pitch and help create chances for Messi and Suarez.
Paulinho has impressed ever since his arrival in Catalonia and this could be a big reason in why the Brazillian is often featured in the starting line-up for Valverde. With the Barcelona now reaching a pivotal part of their season, the 29-year-old become more valuable than ever.
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez will form the two-man attack. The Argentinian leads the league in scoring and has seemingly done it with ease.
Meanwhile, Suarez has been struggling for form this campaign and while the Uruguayan forward has shown glimpses of greatness, he is yet to get back to his best. This weekend could be the perfect opportunity to regain form for the former Liverpool man as Barcelona look to extend their lead at the top of La Liga.
Barcelona welcome Celta Vigo into town this weekend as they look to extend their gap at the top of La Liga to seven points.
The Catalan giants have had an incredible start to the season with exceptional performances from many of their stars, in the absence of summer departee Neymar.
After being held to a 1-1 draw by second place Valencia,
The potential of a goal-fest is on the cards leading up to the clash, as the last 4 league fixtures between the two sides have accumulated 24 goals.
Their clash on the 2nd of October 2016 is arguably the most memorable as Celta defeated the Catalan side 4-3.
Pione Sisto put the hosts ahead early in the 22nd minute, followed by a strike from Iago Aspas and an own goal from Mathieu which increased the deficit to three goals. Although Neymar and Pique pulled the visitors back to within one goal, Celta Vigo’s Pedro Hernandez sealed the win for the home side.
With the game essentially over, Pique scored his second as the home side defended their lead to ensure victory.
Iago Aspas vs Luis Suarez
The history of two sides suggests that there will be an array of goals scored in the clash on Saturday.
With that being said, the two key men in the encounter will be two forwards. Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas has scored 7 goals this campaign while Barcelona’s Luis Suarez trails by two goals, in an underwhelming start to the campaign.
However, you can expect numerous chances to be created and numerous goals scored as both sides boast an array of attacking talent.
Barcelona have no new injuries going into the game but are without long-term absentee Ousmane Dembele and centre-back Javier Mascherano.
Similarly, Celta Vigo have no fresh injuries but will be without key centre-back Sergi Gomez who will surely be missed with the attack of Barcelona looming. Gerard Pique will return for Barcelona after missing their last game due to suspension, which will fill a huge void in the side’s defence.
Predicted line-up for Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Umtiti, Pique, Alba, Paulinho, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Suarez
Predicted line-up for Celta Vigo: Blanco, Mallo, Cabral, Fontas, Wass, Hernandez, Lobotka, Jozabed, Aspas, Sisto, Gomez.
Barcelona have been in incredible form this season, however, Celta Vigo certainly look to threaten their impressive record at the Camp Nou.
Celta Vigo have had no trouble with putting the ball in the back of the net this season and with the finishing of Iago Aspas, the Barcelona defence could be in for a shock as they look for their 19th straight home win in La Liga.
Prediction: Barcelona 3-2 Celta Vigo
?Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic has admitted he misses his former teammate Neymar, and accepted his team have lost a bit of their creative magic since his departure, despite a strong start to the 2017/18 season.
After Neymar turned the footballing world upside down with his record-breaking move to Paris Saint-Germain, while Barcelona were expected to suffer this season in his absence.
Surprisingly, Ernesto Valverde’s side have so far excelled, leading La Liga by four points after 13 games, and are already eight points above bitter rivals Real Madrid.
However, Croatian maestro Rakitic has recently confessed in an interview with Mundo Deportivo (via the Daily Star) that he still misses the Brazilian.
“We had a bit more ‘show’ when Ney was here, maybe we lack that a little bit now. That was brought by Ney himself.
“I would prefer him to be here. If I had a magic wand, I would have him by my side. We’ve spoken about Ney a lot, though, but he’s not here any more and we’re doing really well.”
“I miss him, too, not just on the pitch but in the dressing room,” he added.
Rakitic also commented on the hysteria surrounding Neymar’s purported regret over the move, and his strained integration at the club, despite impressing.
He added: “It’s been the same for me before. When I left Germany for Sevilla, I missed everyone.
“Then when I came here, I was going back to Seville whenever I could. Later, you get used to your new surroundings and teammates.
“The strength of this team is in its values in the dressing room. We miss Ney. Whether he regrets leaving or not, you’d have to ask him.”
Barcelona maintained their imperious start to this campaign on Wednesday night, defeating Real Murcia 8-0 on aggregate in their Copa del Rey clash to advance to the last 16.
Barcelona star Javier Mascherano has admitted that he regrets the way he left Liverpool for Barcelona, stating that the departure of Rafa Benitez played a big decision in his departure.
The Argentine was speaking about his next move when he admitted that his career at the Nou Camp is coming to an end. Mascherano spoke about the way he left the Merseyside club, and that he does not want to leave the Catalan giants in the same way, as reported by the ?Liverpool Echo.
“It was a stormy summer for me. Rafa Benitez had left Liverpool and there was the possibility of going to Inter with him. We were negotiating but things did not go the way we wanted. I already had the idea of leaving Liverpool. He was the manager who had bet on me when I did not know what to do at West Ham. When he left, I believed that it would not be the same and I needed to take a step forward”.
Im not sure whats more impressive, Mascherano’s 14 trophies at Barca or that in his 8 years there his hair and beard have swapped places??? pic.twitter.com/Uvnv0vrUtj
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) July 25, 2017
After a tough summer, Mascherano spoke then about his offer from Inter and how the move to Barcelona came about.
“Negotiations with Inter did not progress and 15 days before the end of the transfer window Barcelona contacted me. They told me about the possibility of coming [to the Nou Camp]. They needed a player to rest Sergio [Busquets] because Yaya [Toure] had gone. I had previously spoke with Leo [Messi] about it and it was a dream to come to Guardiola’s Barcelona.”
It is interesting to see how these transfers come about and that the departure to Barcelona was mostly down to Benitez; the relationship between the two is clearly very strong.
Mascherano has undoubtedly had a fantastic career and it is a shame to see such a great talent enter the twilight of his career.
?Francesco Totti has revealed which legendary footballer he will always “regret” never playing with.
The Giallorossi playmaker called time on his lengthy professional career at the end of last term as he brought the curtain down on an illustrious time with the Serie A side.
Speaking to Italian newspaper Correire della Sera (h/t ?Eurosport) about a wide variety of topics, Totti was asked with former superstar he would have loved to have played alongside, and the former Italy international needed no second invitation in revealing who that player would have been.
He said: “[My one regret was] that I was not able to play with Ronaldo (Nazario).
“It would have been a dream not only for me but also for him because I would have made him score even more. He scored fairly enough but with me playing behind him then maybe…”
Ex-Inter Milan and Real Madrid striker Ronaldo will have faced off against Totti and Roma during his five-year career with I Nerazzurri at San Siro, before doing so again when he spent 18 months with Inter’s bitter city rivals AC Milan between January 2007 and July 2008.
Totti, who amassed almost 800 appearances in all competitions for Roma, would have been the perfect foil for Ronaldo’s sharp shooting with his vision, passing range and ability to play the shadow striker role all suited to providing the former front man with plenty of ammunition.
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Unfortunately we’ll never get to see such a pairing play together unless they do so for the same side in a charity game but, like Totti, we can all dream of how good it would have been.