MX23RW : Friday, May 24 19:45:43| >> :600:46400911:46400911:
Dec 2, 2017 at 12pm UK at ​Camp Nou (Barcelona)
Attendance: 63,208
Celta Vigo
Messi (22'), Suarez (62')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Aspas (20'), Gomez (70')

Preview: Barcelona vs. Celta Vigo - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of Barcelona's La Liga clash against mid-table Celta Vigo.

Barcelona will attempt to make it a full calendar year without dropping a home point in La Liga when they welcome Celta Vigo to Camp Nou on Saturday afternoon.

Ninth-placed Celta head to the Catalan capital on the back of a mixed run of form, and their recent record here has seen them concede 11 goals on their last two visits.


Andres Iniesta celebrates with Lionel Messi after scoring during the La Liga game between Barcelona and Malaga on October 21, 2017© Offside

Talk of Barcelona being in crisis following their heavy Supercopa de Espana defeat to rivals Real Madrid now seems a long time ago, as they head into matchday 14 of the La Liga campaign sitting pretty at the top of the table.

Barca have not only opened up a four-point gap on Valencia in second, but also raced eight clear of both Real and Atletico Madrid in third and fourth respectively, effectively leaving them with one hand on the title ahead of the winter break.

Sixteen wins and four draws in all competitions is some record for Ernesto Valverde, who was thrown in at the deep end so to speak due to the surprise departure of Neymar and loss to injury of club-record signing Ousmane Dembele - a direct replacement for the Brazilian - after just one league start.

A word of warning for Valverde, though - the last time Barcelona started this well was under Gerardo Martino in 2013-14, when going on to end the season trophyless to cost the Argentine his job.

On that occasion it was an impressive Atletico side who pipped them to the title on the final day; fast forward a few years and Valencia are now the team providing the biggest threat to Barca's title hopes.

Last weekend's 1-1 draw at the Mestalla was arguably the biggest result yet of Valverde's reign, even if it should have been all three points due to a controversial decision to rule out a legitimate Lionel Messi goal, with that point keeping his side four clear of Valencia at the top.

The only other time the Catalans have dropped a point in the league this season was away to Atletico in mid-October, meaning that no side has managed to leave Camp Nou with any sort of result so far this term.

In fact, Barca have won 18 out of 18 on home soil since a late Sergio Ramos leveller here on December 3 last year - an entire year of perfect results if they can see out this one final test.

Recent form in La Liga: DWWWWD
Recent form (all competitions): DWWDDW

Celta Vigo

Iago Aspas in action for Celta Vigo in 2016© SilverHub

Celta, managed by former Barcelona assistant Juan Carlos Unzue, head to Camp Nou on the back of a mixed run of league form this term - five wins, six defeats and a couple of draws.

The Sky Blues are at a crossroads of sorts with less than a month of the first half of the campaign to go, sitting four points off a European berth but just three above Eibar down in 15th place.

Unzue's men edged past Leganes 1-0 at Balaidos last time out in the league to end a run of two defeats in three, moving them back in the right direction, but they now face top-two sides Barcelona and Valencia over the next week, while Real Madrid are their first opponents immediately after the winter hiatus.

Their only real test so far has come in the form of Atletico Madrid, who left Balaidos with a 1-0 victory on October 22 - Kevin Gameiro netting the only goal half an hour in - to leave them with a difficult upcoming run.

Winning away from home has not been easy for the Celts, meanwhile, with seven defeats in their last nine, though two of their wins came by comfortable margins against Eibar and Las Palmas earlier in the campaign.

Celta have scored in all six of their away games this term, yet that tends to count for little when they head to Camp Nou as they have conceded 11 goals in their last two visits combined.

Like this weekend's opponents, the Sky Blues came through their Copa del Rey last-32 tie unscathed by battling to a 3-1 aggregate win over Eibar, but they still had work to do in the second leg, unlike Barca who heavily rotated for the visit of Real Murcia.

These matches tend to go down as 'bonus' games for sides of Celta's ilk, but Unzue - who spent a few years at Barca in a coaching capacity before moving on in the summer - will no doubt be keen to get one over on his former club.

Recent form in La Liga: WLLWLW
Recent form (all competitions): WLWLWW

Team News

Luis Suarez celebrates scoring during the La Liga game between Barcelona and Real Madrid on December 3, 2016© SilverHub

Valverde is expected to revert to his strongest XI following the 5-0 second-leg win over Real Murcia, meaning that Messi and Luis Suarez will be used in tandem in the forward line.

Messi has now gone more than a month without finding the net, however, last doing so in the win over Athletic Bilbao five games ago, while Suarez has just two goals in his last eight.

Elsewhere, Gerard Pique will return to league action after serving a one-match ban, and Nelson Semedo is likely to get the nod over fit-again Sergi Roberto at right-back.

In terms of the visitors, Unzue is without the suspended Jony, while centre-back Sergi Gomez is also absent as he continues to nurse an injury problem.

Andreu Fontas is therefore expected to come into the side to partner Gustavo Cabral, and Facundo Roncaglia is in line to start ahead of the inexperienced Diego Pampin.

Seven of Celta's 24 goals this season have been scored by Iago Aspas, with attacking support to be offered by six-goal forward Maxi Gomez.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Paulinho, Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Suarez, Messi

Celta Vigo possible starting lineup:
Blanco; Mallo, Fontas, Cabral, Roncaglia; Wass, Hernandez, Lobotka, Sisto; Gomez, Aspas

Head To Head

Fixtures between Barca and Celta tend to be high-scoring affairs, with 24 goals being scored in the last four encounters.

The hosts came out on top 5-0 here in the most recent meeting nine months ago, courtesy of a couple of goals from Messi and one each for Neymar, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti.

That big win came on the back of a shock 4-3 loss in the reverse fixture earlier in the 2016-17 campaign, having found themselves three goals down with 33 minutes played.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Barcelona 3-0 Celta Vigo

Barcelona remain unbeaten in all competitions since their Supercopa loss at the hands of Real and, with just five games left to play between now and the end of the year, they look good value to see out 2017 on a real high. Celta will show no fear at Camp Nou, but their recent record here suggests that they could be in for a tricky afternoon.

Who will win Saturday's La Liga meeting between Barcelona and Celta Vigo?

Celta Vigo
Celta Vigo
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A general view of the stadium prior to kickoff during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014
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