Celta Vigo needed to win the three points in their match against FC Barcelona if they wanted to keep their chances to avoid relegation alive. And they fully delivered in front of their own crowd.
Taking advantage of Barcelona’s alternative squad, Celta netted twice in the second half and secured a massive 2-0 win that now puts them five points above the red zone although Valladolid – and others – need to play on Sunday. Maxi Gomez and Iago Aspas found the back of the net for Celta.
Here are three things we learned from this match.
Celta once again showed they deserve to avoid relegation
It’s not a secret that Celta have been underachieving this season. The squad was built to contend for a European spot, but instead they’ve spent virtually the entire campaign in the bottom half. But when they’ve been at full strength, Celta have looked competitive. And certainly, they do not appear as a squad that should be fighting near the bottom of the standings.
This performance against Barcelona might be the best example. Even though the league champions fielded an alternative side, it still included names such as Ousmane Dembele, Malcom, Ricard Puig and Carlos Alena, among others. It’s a strong side anywhere you look at it, but Celta delivered. And this performance should give them quite a boost ahead of the final two games of the campaign.
Ernesto Valverde did the right thing rotating the squad
Barcelona had nothing to play for in this match and they have a pivotal Champions League fixture against Liverpool next week. Therefore, most pundits expected Valverde to make a few changes into the side. But no one expected such an alternative side, with names such as Moussa Wague, Malcom, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jean-Clair Todibo in the starting XI.
Arturo Vidal entered the pitch in the second half, but other regulars such as Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Sergi Roberto and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen didn’t even make the bench. The loss certainly hurts, but Valverde did the right thing. The priority right now is the Champions League match against Liverpool next week. And he couldn’t afford to suffer any injuries. However…
Ousmane Dembele might not play again this season
…unfortunately, Dembele suffered an injury and only played six minutes before getting replaced by Alex Collado. The diagnosis hasn’t been revealed yet, but considering Barcelona only have a few matches left before the end of the season, chances are he won’t return to action before the end of the campaign.
Dembele’s loss might not be something Barca fans will be sad about, though. Philippe Coutinho has settled himself as the team’s third alongside both Suarez and Messi, and Dembele is a bench alternative at best. Plus, Malcom and even Boateng could take his place. The Frenchman hasn’t looked very impressive, so chances are Barca won’t miss the former Dortmund star down the stretch.
Celta Vigo: Ruben Blanco (7); Hugo Mallo (6), Cabral (7), Araujo (7), Olaza (5); Boudebouz (6) (Jozabed (-), 85’), Yokuslu (6), Lobotka (5), Boufal (6) (Brais Mendez (-), 71’); Iago Aspas (7), Maxi Gomez (7) (Fran Beltran (-), 90’)
Bench: Alvarez (GK), David Costas, Hjulsager, Sisto
FC Barcelona: Cillessen (5); Wague (4), Todibo (5) (Murillo (5), 68’), Umtiti (6), Vermaelen (5); Riqui Puig (5), Arthur (6) (Vidal (4), 62’), Carles Aleña (6); Dembele (-) (Alex Collado (6), 6’), Boateng (4), Malcom (5)
Bench: Iñaki Peña (GK), Nelson Semedo, Lenglet, Coutinho
Goals: Gomez (1-0, 67’), Iago Aspas (2-0, 88’)
Referee: Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez
Yellow cards: Boufal (CEL); Vermaelen, Umtiti, Todibo, Boateng, Vidal (BAR)
Red cards: None
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