Celta Vigo midfielder Michael Krohn-Dehli will miss tonight’s clash against Barcelona after injuring his knee while on international duty. Sergio Alvarez, Hugo Mallo, Samuel Llorca, and Alex Lopez are all sidelined, while Andres Tunez and Iago Aspas are suspended.
Barcelona playmaker Xavi is struggling with his hamstring strain and will not travel to Galicia. Defender Jordi Alba (hamstring) and striker Pedro (calf) also picked up knocks while on Spain duty and join Carles Puyol (knee) and Adriano (thigh). On another note, the inspirational Abidal is back in the squad and is expected to get a few minutes.
Now, with Barcelona aiming to please on Tuesday night vs PSG in the Champions league, their minds (and players) won’t be all in it for Celta tonight. A list of injuries and suspensions lurk between both squads therefore it wont exactly be the best of encounters.
With Barcelona expected to rest the majority of their starters the game will definitely have a different tactical taste towards it. In the general sense, Celta tend to congest the mid and attempt to off-balance their opposition. Especially when playing the Atleticos, Real Madrids or even the Valencias; so in other words, on big occasions they tend to perform.
With Barcelona, it will be a bit different since it will be extremely hard to off-balance and quite honestly best a team that is probably the most fluid in the world when it comes to the midfield area. Celta will eye a tired, younger Barca (with Gerrard D, Tello, and Montoya all having a chance of starting) by presuming high-pressure and waiting for a misplaced pass or whatnot to strike. Starting with Celta;
Celta Vigo Probable Line-Up:
Varas, Johny, Cabral, Demidov, Lago, Oubiña, Insa, Fernández, Bermejo, Lucas, Park
The home-side will be looking to take advantage of Barca’s absences but need to be extremely disciplined in transitional play. They won’t necessarily man-mark the Catalans in the mid because their players tend to shift positions constantly, making it impossible. They’ll be aiming for an elite level of compactness, everywhere throughout the pitch.
This will probably be done by keeping masses of players inside the heart of the midfield and making it difficult for their opponents to find a link through. This is where their high-line comes into mind; they tried it vs Real Madrid and it was relatively successful for the majority of the game. They need to keep the back-line very high to keep Barca as further away as possible from the goal, because at any given moment, Messi (if he starts) could make a quick dribble and find himself in front of goal.
Furthermore, the gunner-man on loan needs to be at his positional best and make quick runs inside the box in case Barca are dispossessed in front of goal. Celta won’t really miss any of their injured players in much sense except in the shooting department as most of their injured players master out-the-box screamers. Other than that, they will be very balanced, poised and definitely motivated if they keep that compactness throughout the pitch. As for the Catalans;
Barcelona Probable Line-Up:
Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Montoya, Alcântara, Song, Fàbregas, Sanchez, Villa, Tello
Whether Tello/Sanchez start on the flanks or Tello/Gerrard D. it will be a very forward approach. With Celta expected to put on some high pressure and play with compactness, Cesc needs to be more forward to free himself from the mass amount of Celta players.
Barca expected to play Song as a 1-man-pivotal defensive midfielder. He should be vital for tonight because his long balls that used to be used to feed Van Persie back in Arsenal should be used tonight to support the wings. By feeding Tello and Sanchez/Gerrard on the flanks, Celta’s back-line will be forced to go backwards and at a certain pace because too much patience would lead to Barca’s gradual build-ups to turn into counters for the home-side.
Tello will need to penetrate the left wing as much as possible and attempt to break the high-line by holding the ball once received and waiting for Villa/Cesc to dig deep and construct a pass. Celta won’t be as offensive as Milan was in the San Siro a few weeks ago because their wingers aren’t as solid, but they will stick to their compactness for a longer period of time and aim to be more patient as they know Barcelona aren’t a joking matter.
Back-line is no issue whether Pique/Mascherano start or Pique/Bartra. Barca won’t exactly have 2 attacking full-backs for tonight with Montoya more of a solid, defensive full-back and with Alba currently suffering an injury, but Alves should do the job offensively. Moving on, Barcelona need to stretch the pitch, be pacy with their build-ups, keep Villa as a central striker, and be cautious with their passes.
This type of game is hard to predict because most of the starters aren’t going to be participating, especially for Barca, so it’ll be a different display from both sides. Nevertheless, Barcelona will stick to their philosophy and hold the ball as much as they can. Depending on how the first 10 minutes go, I see a tough game for the Catalans and unless they balance the flanks out, they’re likely to drop points tonight.
Prediction: Celta Vigo 1-3 Barcelona/Celta Vigo 0-2 Barcelona
Double prediction for tonight’s game but see the Catalans overcoming the compactness and winning by a 2+ goal deficit with both situations. Then again, this will depend on Barca’s form and how they handle the compactness, but at best, this is probably how it will end up.
Written by Hasan Al