Monday, December 10, 2018

Prediction: Barcelona vs Celta

Verdict: Home win + both teams to score

Best Odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: 888sport

Having secured a 1-1 draw with a second-string side in the first leg at Balaidos, Barcelona will be looking to clinch a place in the next stage with an assured performance at their Camp Nou. But, with Celta also holding Real Madrid to a 2-2 draw at the weekend, the Catalans will not have an easy job on Thursday evening.

Barcelona

This is turning out to be one of the most successful seasons in recent years for Barcelona, although the Catalans obviously need to continue in the same manner if they want to have reason for celebration next summer. Ernesto Valverde’s men are already 16 points clear of arch rivals Real Madrid in the La Liga standings, which is enough to suggest they should ease off to the league trophy, while they have also been doing well in the Champions League, where they will battle out-of-sorts Chelsea for a place in the quarter-finals. At the same time, Barcelona are vying Celta Vigo in the Last 16 stage of Copa del Rey and their under-strength side did well to earn a 1-1 draw at Balaidos in the first leg. With the Sky Blues in fine form at the moment, chances are that Ernesto Valverde will field a much stronger side in the return match, although there will be no place for marquee signing Philippe Coutinho, who is out through injury. The Brazilian has finally arrived at Camp Nou following several unsuccessful attempts and this deal should serve as a major lift ahead of the business end of the season.

Team News

Samuel Umtiti has resumed training from a muscle injury, but Paco Alcacer is not yet ready to return. Jordi Alba and Thomas Vermaelen are available after shaking off minor knocks.

Celta

Celta Vigo have done so well in recent years that their fans now expect a certain standard of performances, which is why nobody can be satisfied with the team’s current position (15th) in the La Liga standings. The good news is that the Sky Blues are still mere six points behind Europa League positions, while another positive is that the team appear to be on the mend. Celta ended the year 2017 in style, defeating Deportivo La Coruna 3-1 on the road, before playing out a 1-1 draw with Barcelona in Copa del Rey. Unzue’s side then produced another memorable performance to earn a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid, even missing a penalty in the process. The head coach didn’t want to risk anything and fielded very strong sides in both of those matches, but it remains to be seen whether the Sky Blues will have anything left in the tank when they face Barcelona at Camp Nou. It has to be noted that Celta managed to score in every single away game this season (21 goals in 10 matches), so we definitely expect the trend to continue at Camp Nou.

Team News

Swedish striker John Guidetti has left the club to join Deportivo Alaves, but new signing Robert Mazan is in contention.

Key Factors to Consider

  • The two sides already played out two scoring draws this season
  • Barcelona won 12 of last 13 home games (D1)
  • Celta scored in every single away game this term
  • The Sky Blues are averaging over 2 goals per game on the road
  • Celta held Barca and Real to 1-1 and 2-2 draws respectively in first two games of 2018

Conclusion

Barcelona will be in better shape having rested their key men in the first leg, while the Sky Blues could play a third game in a week with their strongest squad. Therefore, we expect the Catalans to emerge victorious, but are also backing Celta to continue the outstanding scoring run on the travels.

Verdict: Home win + both teams to score

Best Odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: 888sport

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