MX23RW : Wednesday, January 16 04:27:05
Dec 22, 2018 at 5.30pm UK at ​Camp Nou (Barcelona)
Attendance: 78,686
Barcelona
2-0
Celta Vigo
Dembele (10'), Messi (45')
FT(HT: 2-0)

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

Sports Mole provides the team news, predicted lineup and a full preview of Barcelona's La Liga clash with Celta Vigo this weekend.

Barcelona will look to end 2018 on a high when they welcome Celta Vigo to Camp Nou in La Liga on Saturday night.

The Spanish champions have won their last three in the league without conceding a goal to open up a three-point advantage at the summit. Celta, meanwhile, currently sit ninth in Spain's top flight on 21 points.


Barcelona

Barcelona's Luis Suarez in action against Levante on December 16, 2018.© Reuters

Barcelona have not been without their problems in the first half of the 2018-19 campaign, but they are through in both the Champions League and Copa del Rey, and top La Liga ahead of the final set of league fixtures in 2018.

Barcelona have won 10, drawn four and lost two of their 16 league matches to collect 34 points, which has left them three points clear of second-placed Sevilla and third-placed Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid, meanwhile, are fourth on 29 points, but Los Blancos will not play another league game until 2019 as they are in action at the 2018 Club World Cup.

Ernesto Valverde's side suffered a 4-3 home defeat to Real Betis on November 11 but have been in impressive form in La Liga since then. Indeed, they picked up a point away at Atletico Madrid on November 24 before beating Villarreal, Espanyol and Levante in their last three without conceding a goal.

Barcelona have scored nine times in their last two league matches away at Espanyol and Levante, and the Spanish champions will be full of confidence as they look to end 2018 on a high.

Lionel Messi leads the scoring charts in La Liga with 14 goals, while Luis Suarez has 11 league strikes to his name. Ousmane Dembele has had his off-the-field concerns this season, but the Frenchman also has nine goals and five assists in 21 appearances in all competitions this term.

The winter break has probably arrived at a poor time for Barcelona when considering their form in recent weeks. However, their next five in the league are against Celta, Getafe, Eibar, Leganes, Girona, and there is every chance that they could put another 15 points on the board before the end of January.

Valverde's team were conceding too many goals in the opening weeks of the season, but they have tightened up in recent weeks and have Luis Suarez, Messi and Dembele in fine form, which spells bad news for the rest of La Liga.

Recent form: WLDWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWDW


Celta Vigo

Maxi Gomez in action for Celta Vigo on September 1, 2018© Reuters

Five wins, six draws and five defeats – that is how Celta have performed in La Liga this season. A total of 21 points from their 16 matches has left them in ninth position, just three points off the top seven.

Celta have posted three top-half finishes since returning to La Liga in 2012, but they have ended each of the last two campaigns in 13th position. There is every chance that they will improve on that position this time around, but it has once again been an inconsistent season to date.

Iago Aspas and Maxi Gomez have scored 18 of Celta's 28 league goals this term, and those two will be key to the away side's chances of success this weekend. Only Luis Suarez, Messi and Cristhian Stuani have scored more La Liga goals than Aspas (10) this term, while Gomez sits fifth in the standings on eight.

Unfortunately, Celta have been far from watertight down the other end of the field. Indeed, only Huesca, Rayo Vallecano and Levante have conceded more than Celta's 24 La Liga goals this season. They are a team capable of putting up some big results, but find it difficult to keep teams out down the other end.

In terms of recent form, Celta will enter the match off the back of a goalless draw at home to Levante on December 14. They did win 3-2 at Villarreal on December 8, however, and have only lost one of their last four in Spain's top flight.

Real Madrid beat them 4-2 last month though, and the team's defensive issues were once again on display in that match. Travelling to Barcelona with a wobbly back four suggests that it will be a difficult night for the Sky Blues.

If results go against Celta this weekend then they could find themselves sitting as low as 14th or 15th entering the winter break, but a win against Barcelona could see them rise as high as seventh ahead of their return to action against Athletic Bilbao on January 7.

Recent form: DLLWWD
Recent form (all competitions): LLWLWD


Team News

Barcelona midfielder Philippe Coutinho celebrates scoring against Real Madrid in El Clasico on October 28, 2018© Reuters

Barcelona boss Valverde has a fairly extensive injury list at the moment, with no fewer than seven first-team players currently on the sidelines.

Thomas Vermaelen came into the defence against Levante last weekend with Barcelona without their two first-team right-backs Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto, but the Belgium international is now out with a calf problem.

As a result, Barcelona have an issue at right-back, and if Semedo fails to overcome a knee problem to make the clash with Celta then there might be a starting role for Juan Miranda.

Further forward, Valverde has a number of decisions to make. Arthur and Philippe Coutinho both started on the bench against Levante last weekend, and that might well be the case again in this match.

Indeed, Dembele is unlikely to be dropped due to his impressive form, while Arturo Vidal has been impressive alongside Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets in the middle of the park. That said, it would not be a surprise to see Arthur return to the XI.

As for Celta, Mathias Jensen is still on the sidelines with a hamstring problem, but head coach Miguel Cardoso has no fresh injury concerns from the team that drew 0-0 with Leganes in the league last weekend.

As mentioned above, Aspas and Gomez will continue as the front two, while on-loan Southampton attacker Sofiane Boufal should also keep his spot. Pione Sisto and Fran Beltran are expected to start on the bench once again.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Vidal, Rakitic, Busquets; Messi, Luis Suarez, Dembele

Celta Vigo possible starting lineup:
Blanco; Mallo, Araujo, Costas, Junca; Boufal, Yokuslu, Sanchez, Mendez; Gomez, Aspas


Head To Head

The last two La Liga matches between Barcelona and Celta have finished level, including a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou in the corresponding match last season.

Barcelona thumped Celta 5-0 at Camp Nou in March 2017, but Celta recorded a 1-0 win at the home of Barcelona in November 2014.

Celta have won three and drawn two of their last eight La Liga games with Barcelona.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Barcelona 3-1 Celta Vigo

Celta's recent record against Barcelona is actually quite good, but we expect the Spanish champions to end 2018 with a win on home soil.


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

Barcelona
Draw
Celta Vigo
Barcelona
85.7%
Draw
4.8%
Celta Vigo
9.5%
Barcelona striker Luis Suarez celebrates scoring against Real Madrid in El Clasico on October 28, 2018
Read Next:
How Barcelona could line up against Levante
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Barcelona19134253203343
2Atletico MadridAtletico19108127131438
3Sevilla1996431201133
4Real Madrid1910362824433
5AlavesAlaves199552219332
6Getafe197752116528
7Real Betis197572223-126
8Real Sociedad197482322125
9GironaGirona195952123-224
10Espanyol197392127-624
11Valencia1941141717023
12Levante196583035-523
13Athletic Bilbao1941052025-522
14EibarEibar195772128-722
15Leganes195771721-422
16Real Valladolid195771721-422
17Celta Vigo195683132-121
18Rayo Vallecano1954102234-1219
19Villarreal193882025-517
20Huesca1925121736-1911

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