As Luis Enrique looks to extend his Barcelona team’s unbeaten run the way forward lies through his former team Celta Vigo. Barça travel to the Estadio Balaidos on Sunday to face the club where Enrique spent one season in charge before taking charge at the Camp Nou in the summer of 2014.
With their stumble earlier this month against promotion side Alaves fast fading into the distance, Barça are flying high at the moment, despite having to play without the injured Lionel Messi. The Blaugrana came from behind in midweek to deal Borussia Moenchengladbach a 2-1 defeat in the Champions League with Arda Turan and Gerard Pique scoring the goals.
Paco Alcacer started in that game in Messi’s absence, but the summer signing, who has yet to score for Barça, endured another frustrating night and was eventually subbed off. Luis Suarez put in a strong performance against Gladbach but was a little off when it came to taking his chances.
Neymar too spurned opportunities in front of goal but played the perfectly lofted ball in that set up Turan’s equalizer. With Messi’s abductor injury set to keep him out for a few more weeks, Alcacer is likely to get another chance to get off the mark for Barça against Vigo.
Of more concern to Enrique may be the defense which was repeatedly undone at Borussia Park by a Gladbach counterattack that was spearheaded by the marauding Thorgan Hazard.
With the likes of Iago Aspas and Pione Sisto, Vigo have pace of their own in the attack. Manager Eduardo Berizzo will likely set his team out in a defensive posture and try to hit Barça on the counter, as Gladbach did so effectively for Hazard’s goal.New Jersey-born Italian-American striker Giuseppe Rossi signed for Vigo in the summer and is also likely to start against Barça.
Since losing back-to-back games to Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid respectively, Vigo have gone undefeated in five, winning their last three in all competitions. And Vigo have a knack for upsetting Barça, having beat them twice in the past two years, including a 4-1 rout in the corresponding fixture last year.
Even with Messi sidelined, Barça are always going to be favorites, but this Vigo team has shown it’s capable of upsetting the Blaugrana in the past and despite the run of good results, Barça of late have been inconsistent by their standards. We could be in for an interesting match here one way or another.
Tune in as Barcelona play at Celta Vigo Sunday, October 2 at 2:45pm ET on BeINSports.