The final-day heartache of last season has spurred Barcelona on to make amends and knock Atletico Madrid, whose 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp secured a much-deserved title for Diego Simeone’s side, off their perch in La Liga. Enduring a rare season without winning a trophy resulted in wholesale changes on and off the pitch, with former player Luis Enrique returning to the club as a promising manager who had built a good reputation at Celta Vigo.
Fast forward to the present day, where Barcelona have stormed to the top of the table following a superb run of form that has seen them blow many teams aside in every domestic competition and in Europe. Eighteen victories from their last nineteen fixtures across the board have silenced many critics who had begun to write off Barcelona after a slow start, with the Catalans not only reaching the Champions League quarter-finals and Copa Del Rey Final, but also proudly sit four points clear in their pursuit of the La Liga title. A fantastic performance resulted in Barcelona triumphing in El Clasico against Real Madrid, but they must now travel to Luis Enrique’s former employers in the hope that their manager can bite the hand that once fed him and put Los Cules one step closer towards the title.
Ten wins in their last eleven La Liga fixtures has put Barcelona in a wonderful position to secure the 23rd title in the club’s illustrious history, with the surprise defeat at home to Malaga the only blotch on an otherwise perfect copybook. Their resurgence in form has been undoubtedly been as a result of Lionel Messi’s otherworldly performances in 2015; the mercurial Argentine star has admitted that he was not at his best in 2014 due to personal issues, but he has more than made up for lost time by already scoring 20 goals – more than anyone else in world football – in the current calendar year. Messi has been joined by fellow team-mates Neymar and Luis Suarez in developing arguably the more feared strikeforce in world football, with all three having a wonderful telepathic understanding which is synonymous with the way Barcelona play. Although they are also extremely strong at the other end of the field and currently boast the best defensive record in La Liga, Barcelona still have an element of vulnerability that can be exploited. Luis Enrique will need his defence to be watertight once again, with Celta Vigo finding their scoring touch by netting in each of their last nine league fixtures.
Despite a recent wobble at the beginning of March, Eduardo Berizzo has enjoyed a good season in his first season as Celta Vigo manager. The Argentine was brought in as Luis Enrique’s replacement and set about continuing the foundations which the Barcelona favourite implemented, with their recent 2-0 victory against Atletico Madrid illustrating the progression they have made under Berizzo. Celta Vigo may not be blessed with an array of household names, but they are a well organised side who keep it very tight at the back and look to Joaquin Larrivey and former Barcelona striker Nolito to score goals at the other end. The latter is what may prevent Celta Vigo from finishing higher in the table; despite currently sitting in a creditable tenth place and experiencing an excellent purple patch in front of goal, scoring just twenty-nine goals in twenty-eight games means there is certainly room for improvement in attack. They do have the distinction, however, of being one of only four teams who have beaten Barcelona in La Liga this season, with Berizzo’s side hoping to do the unthinkable and make it six points from six against the potential champions.