Fc Barcelona bagged all three points against the Sky Blues following a subpar performance in the 2nd half. The Catalans retained their spot at the top of the league table with a win and now look forward to welcoming Inter Milan at Camp Nou with their heads held high.
A rather comfortable first half, in which Barcelona themselves never seemed to get out of first gear, saw an intense start by both teams for the first quarter of the game. Gradually the intensity declined, as Barca soothed into possession and were able to dominate proceedings. Chances were not plenty, however, as the Catalans seemed more focused on nullifying Celta’s offensive attempts by distributing possession sideways rather than adding much-needed verticality to it.
Taking the lead took exactly that. In the 16th minute of the game, Gavi followed through with an exquisite lob behind Celta’s back line, that was passed towards the middle by the player on the left flank, causing difficulties for Celta to clear resulting in a poorly mistimed interception straight into the path of a waiting Pedri who slid the ball into the net for his 2nd goal of the 2022-2023 season. Barcelona led going into the break, with good control over possession as well as the overall tempo of the game.
Yet any semblance of hope that may have sparked was blown out pretty early by Celta’s start to the second half. Revitalized intensity from Celta Vigo was matched with a lethargic return by the Catalans and began an influx of dangerous plays by the visitors. The once-tamed Iago Aspas was back to causing trouble for the Blaugrana outfit. Were it not for some well-timed tackles, absolute brilliance from Marc Andre Ter Stegen, and some quite obnoxiously lucky escapes, Fc Barcelona may not have come out of this game as victors.
Consistent attacks, scurried shots, and misplaced passes inside the box provided multiple scares for Barca, and quite rightly so. It was apparent before the game that Celta Vigo would be a complicated opponent for La Blaugrana, but their resurgence in the 2nd half was quite an unpleasant occurrence for those that support the team from Barcelona.
Celta’s game plan in the latter stages of the 2nd half was solely dependent on piling numbers forward while simultaneously hoping Barcelona would not be able to conjure up a potent counter-attack. They were able to get away with both expectations. They suffocated the hosts and continuously attacked them with barrages of deliveries and passes cut across the backline. They even managed to score one goal that was ruled out as offside.
Besides that, there were multiple occasions tonight where Ter Stegen had his heroics on full display, particularly in a 1 v 1 situation against Iago Aspas himself, a man whose tally against Barcelona possesses elite figures in terms of goals, where he managed to save Barcelona from walking away with anything less than all 3 points.
Were it not for Barcelona’s own luck today, walking away with even a singular point would have felt like a difficult ordeal. The win sees Barcelona back on top of the La Liga table, level with Real Madrid on points but ahead on goal difference.
Yet apart from its importance to the league standings in terms of points, this game is a severe cause of concern as Barcelona next host Inter Milan at Camp Nou in an absolutely decisive game for their campaign in the UEFA Champions League.