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Preview: Celta Vigo vs. Barcelona

Sports Mole previews the La Liga showdown between Celta Vigo and Barcelona at Balaidos.

Barcelona will be looking to maintain their 100% start to the La Liga season when they face off against Celta Vigo on Wednesday.

Luis Enrique's men will face a challenge to secure their fifth win of the campaign as Os Celestes are unbeaten in their opening four matches.


Celta Vigo

Celta de Vigo's new coach, Argentinian Eduardo Berizzo walks across the field during his presentation at the Balaidos stadium in Vigo on June 2, 2014© Getty Images

Celta have enjoyed an excellent start to the season as they have recorded three wins in their opening four matches, including their 2-1 victory over Sevilla at the weekend.

Strikes from Nolito and Daniel Wass put Eduardo Berizzo's men ahead, and they managed to hold off a comeback in the second half from the home side to secure the win at the Estadio Ramon, despite the sending off Jonny in the 91st minute.

The victory lifted Berizzo's side up into fifth place in the table, as the club have continued on from their solid eighth-place finish of the last campaign. If you include the last five games of last term, Celta are now unbeaten in their last nine games in the league.

Nolito has been impressive at the start of the campaign as he has notched four of his side's 10 goals, while Wass has also chipped in with a couple of strikes. Berizzo will be pleased with his team's attacking prowess at the start of the season.

However, they have looked shaky at the back at times and their 3-3 draw with Las Palmas is proof of that as they allowed a 3-1 lead to slip, while they were also troubled by the Sevilla attack in their 2-1 win at the weekend.

Os Celestes will be tested at the back by Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, and Berizzo will soon find out whether his side have the ability to maintain their solid form at the start of the season.

Recent form: WWDW


Barcelona

FC Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between AS Roma and FC Barcelona at Stadio Olimpico on September 16, 2015© Getty Images

Barcelona have begun the defence of their La Liga crown in imperious form by winning all four of their matches at the start of the campaign.

Enrique's side have defeated Athletic Bilbao, Malaga, Atletico Madrid and eased past Levante in their match at the Camp Nou with a 4-1 victory.

The Catalan club will argue that they have been far from their best in their opening matches as they have only found the net eight times in their first four games, which is below-par by their very high standards. However, their lead at the top of the table is a sign of the quality of the team.

After being shut out in the first half of the match against Levante, Enrique's men showed signs that they were slowly clicking into gear in the final third. Messi notched a brace to take his tally to the season to four strikes, while Neymar scored his second goal of the campaign.

Worryingly for the rest of La Liga, Barcelona managed to secure a comfortable victory with Suarez and Andres Iniesta starting the match on the bench.

Defensively, Enrique will be delighted with how his side have coped with the absence of Gerard Pique, who missed the first four games of the season due to suspension. The team have conceded just two goals and kept two clean sheets in their clashes against Malaga and Bilbao.

Barcelona conceded just 21 goals in the league last term, and Enrique will be determined to match that effort so the return of the 28-year-old will be welcomed as his side have a host of injuries at the back.

Enrique's side also boasted the best away record in the division last term, losing just two of their matches. Celta will provide a stern test of whether they will be able to match that feat this season.

Recent form: WWWW
Recent form (all competitions): DWWWDW


Team News

Barcelona's defender Marc Bartra (hidden) celebrates with Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (C) and teammates after scoring during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Levante UD at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 20© Getty Images

Jonny is suspended for Celta after he was dismissed against Sevilla, and he is likely to be replaced by Carles Planas at left-back.

Ruben Blanco is out of the match, but Pablo Hernandez and Gustavo Cabral should be fit enough to take on the Catalan club despite sustaining knocks at the weekend.

Pique returns from suspension for Enrique's men and is expected to return straight into the lineup. Javier Mascherano, Marc Bartra and Jeremy Mathieu will battle it out to start alongside the Spaniard, but the Argentine may win the berth.

Suarez started on the bench in the win over Levante, but he will likely be recalled to be part of the three-pronged attack with Messi and Neymar, while Iniesta will also return to the midfield.

However, Thomas Vermaelen, Claudio Bravo, Douglas and Rafinha are all ruled out of the contest.

Celta possible starting lineup:
Sergio; Mallo, Gomez, Cabral, Planas; Augusto, Pablo, Wass; Orellana, Aspas, Nolito

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Adriano; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Suarez, Messi, Neymar


Head To Head

In the last meeting between the sides, Barcelona secured a 1-0 victory at Balaidos thanks to a 73rd-minute winner from Jeremy Mathieu.

However, Celta recorded a 1-0 win in their last clash at the Camp Nou in November 2014 as Joaquin Larrivey notched the only goal of the game.

Over the course of history, Barcelona have dominated the contest, securing 18 wins out of a possible 36 matches, while Celta have managed just eight and 10 of the clashes have ended in stalemates.


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We say: Celta 2-3 Barcelona

Celta have shown an ability to score goals in the final third, but they could be exposed at the back to the quality of the Barcelona frontline. Enrique's men's experience in defence may just been enough for them to secure a narrow victory, in what could be a high-scoring game.



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Barcelona's defender Marc Bartra celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Levante UD at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 20, 2015.
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Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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