Barcelona beat Celta Vigo 3-1 on Tuesday, but the hosts struggled at times at Camp Nou and the victory was certainly not as pleasant as the result suggests.
Once the tables turned upside down because Barcelona were clinically in front of goal, while their opponents were not. The hosts scored three of their four goals, while Celta scored one of five shots.
The exclusion of former Barca player Jeison Murillo in the 58th minute also helped the Catalan giants, who looked completely confused by Xavi’s tactics and line-up in the first half.
Barcelona initially put themselves in a strange formation that simply failed and Xavi was forced to adjust at half-time. The boss admitted it after the game.
“The team was not happy with the formation,” he said. “We didn’t train that much and it didn’t go well.”
It really didn’t go well and Barcelona won in the end mainly thanks to Ousmane Dembele’s brilliance, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s excellent finish and probably also because it was Tuesday.
The big surprise in Xavi’s team for the match was the absence of Riqui Puig. The midfielder was expected to start with Sergio Busquets, Nico and Pedri, but he still found himself on the bench.
Xavi could hardly have sent a clearer message to the youngster about his future at the club, especially after claiming that Puig would be “important” at Barca in the last three games when asked about the possibility of the midfielder leaving in his pre-game press.
Of course, Puig then got a chance at halftime, and Xavi was forced to change things. Barca were better in the other 45 minutes and Puig was a little unhappy not to score when he saw that the attempt was ruled out due to offside.
There’s a chance Puig could now head out the next time out. Sergio Busquets will return from suspension, but Frenkie de Jong is banned for a trip to Getafe. Still, given what happened on Tuesday, it would also be no surprise to see Puig back on the bench.
Ousmane Dembele entered the game without being able to score in six games, but came up with two assists to move to the top of La Liga rankings. The first was a real beauty with Dembele pulling out a lovely nutmeg and then showing off his incredible speed to set up Memphis Depay.
This was followed by another assist for his good colleague Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who took Dembele to 13 assists for the season in just 20 La Liga games (of which only 15 were as starters).
After two assists in Barcelona’s win against Celta Vigo, Ousmane Dembélé leads La Liga with 13 assists this season
He missed 16 games pic.twitter.com/AHb9JuNwJq
– B / R football (@brfootball) May 10, 2022
The Frenchman has been torturing Javi Galan all night, who has recently been linked with Barca, in a very impressive display that will only strengthen the Catalans’ desire to keep the striker at the club.
Dembele’s performance even led Aubameyang to beg his teammate to stay at Camp Nou after the game.
“I love him so much and that’s why things are going so well,” he said. “I’m happy for him, I don’t know if he will stay or not, but I hope with all my heart that he will.”
Still, Dembele’s current contract with Barcelona expires on June 30 and we are still not closer to finding out what he will do next.
Barcelona’s victory was overshadowed by a terrible head injury sustained by Ronald Araujo. The defender clashed his head with Gavi, who somehow looked like he came out unscathed from the collision, but Araujo certainly didn’t.
The Uruguayan initially ran away from the challenge, but then worriedly fell to his knees and hit the turf. Fortunately, Eric Garcia and Iago Aspas were alive in the situation and reacted very quickly.
Iago Aspas was one of the first players on the field to suffer a head injury to Ronaldo Arau.
Aspas also remained close to the very end until Araujo’s ambulance left the field.
– ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 10, 2022
Araujo was then transferred to an ambulance after nearly eight minutes of treatment and taken straight to the hospital. Barcelona confirmed he suffered a concussion, but doctors told her he would be fine.
There is no doubt that it was a terrifying moment that briefly affected the players. Barcelona were happy to celebrate the victory after the match, but the best news of the evening was undoubtedly that Araujo is well and not in danger.
Xavi may also wake up with a headache after the game as the Uruguayan’s injury contributes to his problems ahead of Sunday’s last away game of the season at Getafe.
Xavi is already without Gerard Pique, Sergin Dest, Sergio Robert, Pedri and Nico Gonzalez due to injury, while Frenkie de Jong, Eric Garcia and Jordi Alba have picked up the cards and have been suspended for the match.
Why La Liga still bans players because they got five yellow cards at this stage of the season (in my opinion completely crazy) remains to be seen, but that’s a topic to talk about for another day.
All this means that Xavi is facing an election headache, although he will be able to call Sergio Busquets again because the captain will return from suspension.
Sunday’s game means we could see that some marginal players rarely drop out, especially with an almost secured second place.
Oscar Mingueza, Clement Lenglet, Riqui, Alejandro Balde and Samuel Umtiti could get a chance, and young Jandro Orellano and Alvaro Sanz will also be hoping for minutes after training with the first team this week.