How Barcelona Will Line Up Against Celta Vigo

Jason PettigroveContributor IMarch 25, 2014

Rafinha returns to Camp Nou to face an in-form Lionel Messi and Barcelona.
Rafinha returns to Camp Nou to face an in-form Lionel Messi and Barcelona.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Barcelona take on Celta Vigo at Camp Nou on Wednesday night looking to continue their assault on La Liga, after the fine win in the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Tata Martino must lift his troops again for a home fixture that won't be without problems for the Blaugrana.

The returning Rafinha Alcantara will play against his parent club, and Barca should be wary of Thiago's younger sibling for he has been in fine form recently.

Per, three man-of-the-match awards in his last six outings show the growing confidence of a player that many, including Jen Evelyn of Inside Spanish Football, expect to return to Camp Nou next season and play a pivotal role.

Says Evelyn:

The Catalans need another option in the midfield, someone dynamic, someone physically up for the challenge both in attack and defense, and of course, someone good enough with the ball for Barcelona’s standards. Rafinha fits the bill.

Another Barca old boy, Luis Enrique, will take up his seat in the opposition dugout, ready to mastermind a Celta victory which would see his side go well clear of the relegation dogfight that is unfolding in the lower echelons of La Liga.

"Lucho's" knowledge of the Barca set up may well stand his charges in good stead of causing an upset, although Twitter user Nadalchukwu thinks it will be an easy three points for the Blaugrana:

Barca should pay Celta appropriate respect, however.

The heroics of El Clasico will be quickly forgotten if the Blaugrana approach this game with one eye on the potentially more difficult Catalan derby at the weekend, and a Champions League date with Atletico Madrid next week. 

Although the exertions at the Santiago Bernabeu may well have taken their toll on Tata Martino's side, his rotation system throughout the season was utilised precisely with a view to end-of-season freshness in mind.

Tiredness therefore shouldn't be used as, nor should it be, an issue. 

That said, Neymar has looked lethargic in his last few outings in Blaugrana, but he does need a run of games in which to restore confidence and ready himself for World Cup duty. 

Neymar hasn't been the same player since coming back from injury.
Neymar hasn't been the same player since coming back from injury.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Whilst a case could certainly be made for the Brazilian to begin from the bench, expect him to start alongside record-breaking Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodriguez.

The Spaniard's pace and experience will be too much for young Celta left-back Jonny to handle, and the covering Michael Krohn-Delhi won't have the engine to get back and forth to disrupt Pedro's incisive, and constant, running.

Alex Song should prove to be an able defensive custodian, repelling the robust, attacking threat Rafinha will bring to proceedings, and Cesc Fabregas will reprise the "Xavi" role he has undertaken at various stages of the campaign, to provide a little more "zip" than his contemporary.

His partnership with Andres Iniesta is likely to give the far less mobile Augusto Fernandez nightmares all evening, and it's a supply line that could provide the key to securing all three points for the home side.

Martino's steadfast refusal to rely on the services of Marc Bartra in the bigger games should see the youngster given a run out alongside Gerard Pique here.

Similarly, as rumours continue to surround Dani Alves' immediate future at the club, per AS (h/t Football Espana), Martin Montoya could enjoy a starting berth and some much-needed match time.

Adriano Correia could also do with a run out but it's unlikely Tata will tinker too much with his line-up, so expect Jordi Alba to complete the XI.