Celta Vigo vs Barcelona Prediction: Benitez to add to Barca’s woes

 | February 16 | 

6 mins read

mack sochon la liga tips

Barcelona travel to Balaidos this weekend to take on Rafa Benitez’s struggling Celta Vigo side with both teams in need of a morale boosting victory on Saturday (KO, 17:30).

This has been a bogey ground for the Catalan giants in recent years. They’ve won on just one of their last eight league visits and were beaten 2-1 here on the final day of last season when Gabri Veiga’s brace kept the Galicians in the league.

Celta responded to that narrow brush with relegation by appointing Rafa Benitez in the summer to oversee things in their centenary year. It was a real statement appointment and there was plenty of optimism in Vigo heading into the new campaign.

However it didn’t take long for that to subside with the former Liverpool boss winning just one of his first 16 matches back in La Liga for the first time since an ill-fated stint as Real Madrid boss in 2015.

Celta Vigo vs Barcelona Betting Tips:

  • Double Chance - Celta Vigo or Draw @ 9/10
  • Highest Scoring Half - Second Half @ 21/20

In Benitez’s defence, Celta’s performances were not as bad as their results and with better finishing, they could have won several of those games. However with Iago Aspas, so long Celta’s talisman, now 36 and a declining force, Benitez has struggled to find the right attacking combinations and even as we head deep into the second half of the season, it’s still hard to know what to make of this team.

Benitez has opted to leave Aspas on the bench over the last two weeks with Norwegian striker Jørgen Strand Larsen leading the line. Celta picked up their most convincing win of the campaign a fortnight ago, seeing off Osasuna 3-0 at El Sadar but they’ve struggled to find any real consistency and were beaten 3-2 at Getafe last time out.

Celta are perhaps fortunate that the only three teams below them all continue to struggle and they should have enough quality to stay in the league. Victory over Barcelona would be a huge boost to morale and may be enough to ensure Benitez is trusted until at least the end of the campaign despite some fans already having turned against him.

If Barca play as badly as they did last weekend, there’s every reason to think Celta can get a positive result from this game. Even by the standards of an underwhelming season, there was no hiding place for Xavi or his players last Sunday after a dreadful performance in a 3-3 home draw against a Granada side that had picked up just one away point all season prior to the match.

The only bright light right now for Barcelona is 16-year-old Lamine Yamal who scored twice in that game and continues to display a raw talent that suggests he’s going to have an incredibly bright future. Even in terms of the present day, the teenager already feels more important than he should do for a Barcelona side that will have one eye on next week’s crucial Champions League trip to Napoli.

With ten points to make up on Real Madrid, there is virtually no prospect of Barca winning the league now so Europe will take priority and offer Xavi a final chance of finishing with a flourish before he departs his post in the summer.

Team News

Had they played better last time out, Xavi might have contemplated resting one or two players here, but this feels like a team desperately in need of at least a more convincing performance to boost morale heading into the trip to Naples.

Therefore Xavi is expected to go strong. He does have Marc-Andre ter Stegen fit again but the German’s presence in goal did little to settle things down defensively against Granada. Barca’s other injury problems continue though with Alejandro Balde, Gavi, Ferran Torres, Joao Felix, Marcos Alonso and Oriol Romeu all set to miss this game.

Celta are in slightly better shape on the selection front. They’re still missing long-term defensive absentee Joseph Aidoo. Right back Javier Manquillo is the only other definite absentee while midfielder Carlos Dotor is doubtful.

Match Odds

Barcelona are the 9/10 favourites to win the game, while you can back Celta Vigo to win at 11/4 with the Draw also on offer at 11/4.

Last weekend saw another six goals fly in as Barca continue to score and concede plenty. If you see that trend continuing here, Both Teams to Score is priced at 4/7. You can also back Over 2.5 Goals at 8/13 while Over 3.5 Goals is available at 13/8 with the expectation being that both goalkeepers will have plenty to do.

If you fancy the visitors to concede but still claim all the points, Barcelona and Both Teams to Score is on offer at 23/10. You can also back Barcelona and Over 3.5 Goals at 7/2, with both of those bets landing in each of the Catalan side’s last two away fixtures.

In the goalscorer markets, Robert Lewandowski is the 9/2 favourite to score first. Lamine Yamal is very much the most exciting thing about Barca right now though and he’s available at 8/1 to score first and 13/5 to score anytime.

Double Chance - Celta Vigo or Draw @ 9/10

Barcelona are making a mess of even the simplest of fixtures right now. Granada at home should have been just about the most comfortable game on the entire calendar for Xavi’s side but they ended up needing to fight just to scrape a point last weekend.

The Barca boss looks at a loss for how best to find balance in midfield. He’s experimented with playing central defender Andreas Christensen in the holding role over the past fortnight but the only natural defensive midfield option is Oriol Romeu who has rarely convinced and is currently injured in any case.

Individual errors have also contributed to their inability to keep even the weakest of attacks in this league quiet. While it’s true that they’ve been slightly more convincing away than at home of late, they don’t tend to enjoy trips to Vigo, winning on just one of their last nine visits in all competitions and I’m backing Double Chance - Celta Vigo or Draw at 9/10.

Celta Vigo or draw double chance in Celta Vigo vs Barcelona at 9-10

Highest Scoring Half - Second Half @ 21/20

Another major tendency this season in Barcelona games has been for the goals to flow after the break. Up against a Rafa Benitez side that may look to keep things tight initially, we could certainly see a repeat here.

Four of the five goals in the reverse fixture came in the final fifteen minutes when the defending champions staged a dramatic late comeback to win 3-2. Meanwhile, 65% of all goals scored in Barca league games this term have come in the Second Half.

As a result, I’m backing Highest Scoring Half - Second Half at 21/20 here and that’s a bet that has a very high success rate of late in Barcelona matches, with all of their last eight league fixtures producing more goals after the interval.

Highest scoring half - second half in Celta Vigo vs Barcelona at 21-20

Check out the rest of our Football Betting Tips here.

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