After Real Madrid beat Getafe, Barcelona knew they had to beat the Galicians to head into next Sunday’s Clasico as league leaders, but Celta didn’t make it easy for them.
With Barcelona holding a slight advantage, the visitors nearly equalized at Camp Nou and Marc-Andre ter Stegen earned a sixth clean sheet in a row with a brilliant save from Iago Aspas late in the game.
Goncalo Paciencia hit the post in stoppage time with the Catalans on the ropes, begging for the whistle.
“We had a great second half, with four, five or six clear chances, but if you don’t score at the Camp Nou it’s normal that you lose,” Aspas told DAZN. “They ended up wasting time in throw-ins.”
🎙 Xavi: #BarçaCelta can teach us things for #ElClásico https://t.co/E8yddjue0x
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) 1665370857000
It was the kind of performance that doesn’t bode well for Barcelona’s crucial Champions League clash with Inter Milan on Wednesday.
“Playing like we did in the second half, it will be very difficult (to beat Inter), but in the first half, yes, we have to maintain this level,” said Barca coach Xavi Hernández.
“Today we were lucky to have a great goalkeeper, but we have to improve, we have to be self-critical.”
Xavi started left-back Marcos Alonso in central defence, alongside Gerard Pique, partly due to injury concerns, but otherwise chose his strongest squad available.
“UEFA is a mafia,” chanted a sector of Barcelona supporters, after president Joan Laporta again pleaded for the Super League at the club’s annual general meeting of members on Sunday morning, but their attention swung. is quickly brought back to the game.
Marc ter Stegen in @LaLiga this season: 8 games 7 clean sheets 1 goal conceded 720 minutes played Last 624 scoreless… https://t.co/yxVrpMURbX
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) 1665367200000
Barcelona missed a host of early chances, with Ferran Torres unable to reach a tempting cross and having another effort saved by Agustin Marchesin, while the goalkeeper also did well to recover a raspy drive from Raphinha.
The pressure was soon on and Pedri sent Barcelona ahead in the 17th minute, with Celta defender Unai Nunez accidentally taking the Spanish midfielder when he tried to cut off Gavi’s cross.
Jordi Alba exploded into the side netting and Pedri delighted the fans with a flurry from midfield as Barcelona continued to dominate. However, Celta started the second half in determined fashion.
Marcos Alonso made a fine block to prevent Oscar Rodriguez from close range as the visitors pushed for the equaliser.
Xavi responded with a triple change, snapping up wingers Torres and Raphinha, as well as resting Pedri for the Inter game.
🎙 Marcos Alonso: “A big three points… it’s time to rest and prepare for Wednesday” https://t.co/P1r9bVdoN8
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) 1665356458000
Then came Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati and Frenkie de Jong, the latter back from injury, but it was still Celta who forged the best openings.
Jorgen Larsen headed home but the goal was disallowed for offside in the build-up against Javi Galan. Ter Stegen made a superb save to deny Aspas with six minutes left from 10 yards out, and Hugo Mallo launched another effort wide.
Celta substitute Paciencia hit the post from inside the box and former Barca youngster Carles Perez saw a shot blocked by a sprawling Barcelona defender.
“If you lower your intensity, especially in the second half, the rival can put pressure on you,” warns Xavi. “It is a reality that must be taken into account.
“If we had scored the second goal, it would have changed the game. Keeping that intensity must be non-negotiable for the team.”
🎙 Raphinha: Sometimes you have to know how to suffer to get the three points https://t.co/ljutd0LiW4
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) 1665351305000
His team clung to the points, securing seven round wins in La Liga, this one being much tougher than the others.
“We have to improve, we can’t concede so many chances in a more or less controlled game,” added Alonso.
Elsewhere, Brais Mendez continued his brilliant goalscoring form to win Real Sociedad a 1-0 win over Villarreal and send the Basque team sixth in La Liga.
The winger now has five goals in six appearances in Spainwith his well-taken strike in the 32nd minute securing a deserved triumph for Imanol Alguacil’s side.
Fifth-placed Real Betis drew 0-0 at Real Valladolid and Joselu scored twice for Espanyol in a 2-2 draw at Cadiz.