Preview: Celta Vigo v Barcelona

Barcelona will be aiming to continue rewriting the history books when they lock horns with Celta Vigo at Balaidos on Tuesday night.

La Liga
17 April 2018
Gameweek 33
Kick-off: 21H00 (GMT+2)
Venue: Balaidos

Head-to-head summary

Celta Vigo 43 10 12 21
Barcelona 43 21 12 10

Previous encounter

Barcelona 5-0 Celta Vigo 11/01/18 (Copa del Rey)

Barcelona goalscorers: L. Messi (13′, 15′), J. Alba (28′), L. Suarez (31′), I. Rakitic (87′)

Players to watch

Barca will need to keep an eye on Maxi Gomez, who has impressed in his debut season in La Liga. The Uruguayan striker has bagged 13 goals in 30 league appearances since joining Celta from Defensor Sporting in the off-season.

Ousmane Dembele could get the chance to strut his stuff if Lionel Messi is rested. The French forward has shown glimpses of his quality after returning from a hamstring injury in January, registering five league assists, although he is yet to get off the mark domestically.

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Team form and manager quotes

Barca set a new Spanish record on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Valencia having extended their unbeaten run in La Liga to 39 games.

Ernesto Valverde’s side remain undefeated in the league this season after 32 matches and are just four points away from being crowned champions.

The two teams square off for the fourth time in 2017/18, with the Blaugrana just edging results after one win and two draws, and Valverde is expecting another stern test from Celta.

“We have faced Celta three times already and it will be a tough game,” the Spaniard said in his pre-match press conference.

“They are having a great season and are fighting for a European place. Celta manage games well and will put a lot of pressure on us.”

The Galician outfit are looking to bounce back from a 1-0 loss to Leganes on Saturday, which halted a run of three games without defeat.

They are ninth in the table and still have a chance of qualifying for the Europa League, but will need to close the five-point gap to the top six in the final six fixtures.

As such, Celta head coach Juan Carlos Unzue wants all three points against the Catalan giants in midweek.

“We cannot set out to draw, we need to win. We have to go out and win, to stand up,” Unzue told the press.

“Playing against a big team is always an extra motivation for the rest, even if subconsciously.”

Team news

The hosts must do without suspended duo Hugo Mallo and Pablo Hernandez, which means that Unzue will have to reshuffle his pack.

Facundo Roncaglia is expected to slot in at right back for Mallo, while Nemanja Radoja will take the place of Hernandez in midfield.

Valverde is likely to rest key players with an eye on this weekend’s Copa del Rey final against Sevilla. Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique could get the night off, while Ivan Rakitic misses out with an injured finger.