Celta Vigo and ?Barcelona clash in La Liga on Tuesday with the away side looking to wrap up the title, while the hosts will be looking to secure three points ?to pile the pressure on Villarreal in the hunt for the final Europa League spot in the table.
Celta Vigo missed the opportunity to close the gap with Villarreal for the final Europa League spot after their 1-0 away loss to Leganes on the weekend, with the side from Vigo sitting in 8th place and five points behind the side in sixth.
Barcelona made amends for their surprise Champions League exit to Roma with a ?2-1 win against Valencia on Saturday. The Catalan giants sit 11 points clear of Atletico Madrid, and the Catalans can win La Liga title with three wins from their remaining six games.
??Barcelona can even wrap up the title before the El Clasico on the 6th of May if Atletico drops points in their next two matches; however, the Catalan side need to get the win against Celta Vigo first.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this clash at the Balaidos:
Sergi Gomez vs Lionel Messi
With both of Tuesday’s sides looking the dominate the ball and play beautiful football in the matches they’ve played this season, it will come down to who does it better when they have got the ball in the match – and not many teams do that better than ?Barcelona.
With Celta Vigo losing their leader and captain from suspension most of the key defensive responsibility will fall to the shoulders of their defender, Sergi Gomez. Gomez’s main concern will be, as always, keeping Barcelona’s ?Lionel Messi quiet.
In Gomez, Celta Vigo has someone who came through the Barcelona academy and has impressed since joining the side from Vigo in 2014 making 87 La Liga appearances for Vigo in the process. ?The Spanish defender has been one of Vigo’s best performers this season playing 27 times in the league and scoring once in the process.
Up against the Spanish defender is one of world football’s best, if not the best, as the 26 year-old faces ?Barcelona’s Lionel Messi for the third time this season, as the two previously met in the Copa del Rey and in the league.
The ?30 year-old Argentinian attacker has found the back of the net 29 times and added a further 12 assists in the 29 league matches he has played so far this season – meaning the incredible Argentine sit on top of both the goalscoring and assist charts for the season.
Gomez will play a key part in trying to stop the seemingly unbeatable Barcelona side and if he can disrupt Barcelona’s fluid interchanging style of play, which ?Messi plays a big part in, the side from Vigo might just come up with a upset on Tuesday.
?Juan Carlos Unzue’s Celta will be without his captain Hugo Mallo and influential midfielder Pablo Hernandez due to suspension. As a result, Nemanja Radoja will partner Stanislav Lobotka in central midfield. Facundo Roncaglia should slot in at right back in place of Mallo, with Gustavo Cabral slotting in at centre back.
Barcelona will be without ?Ivan Rakitic as the Croatian midfielder is suffering from a broken finger, so Paulinho should come in for him in central midfield. Nelson Semedo and Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen are expected to get starts in defence. Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele should start on the flanks, with ?Andres Iniesta rested.
Celta, who lost in their last match against Leganes, will be hoping the form of inspirational striker ?Iago Aspas could see them past their rivals on Tuesday with the side from Vigo desperate for the three points to continue their quest for European dream.
Potential Celta Vigo Starting Lineup: Alvarez; Jonny, Sergi Gomez, Cabral, Ronacaglia; Sisto, Lobotka, Radoja, Wass; Aspas, Maxi Gomez.
Potential Barcelona Starting Lineup: Ter Stegen; Alba, Umtiti, Vermaelen, Semedo; Coutinho, Paulinho, Busquets, Dembele; Suarez, Messi.
Barcelona are unbeaten in the last four competitive meetings with Celta Vigo with 2 wins and 2 draws, and are undefeated in their last 39 matches – breaking La Liga’s record for the longest unbeaten period after their 2-1 victory over Valencia on Satuday.
Celta Vigo have lost just one of their last four La Liga matches, with Unzue’s men right in the mix for a Europa League finish, with the hosts unbeaten in their last seven home outings at Balaidos.