Celta, Koeman’s first major test

Vigo/Barcelona, Spain, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- Óscar García’s Celta de Vigo team will be the first big challenge for Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona in the new LaLiga season, an opportunity for the Dutch manager to test his system after the 4-0 win against Villareal, in which youngster Ansu Fati tightened his claim to a first-team spot.

It will also provide a chance for Barcelona to put last season’s poor away results behind them.

The Catalan giants have not won in Vigo since April 2015 and last year were held to a 2-2 draw in Galicia.

Koeman is unlikely to make any changes to the first-team of his system of play for Thursday’s match. He is fully aware he needs to consolidate both but the Balaidos stadium is not the best place for experiments, especially as it is the second of three fixtures Barcelona have in the space of a week.

His trusted 4-2-3-1 formation, which he used with the Dutch national team, has transferred well to Barcelona so far, with the players looking comfortable, more cohesive and better placed to hold their lines.

Against Villareal, Barcelona’s midfield — especially Coutinho and Ansu Fati — proved decisive and only Antoine Griezmann found it tricky to go with the flow.

The double pivot of Busquets and De Jong allowed the team to recover balls and when Pjanic took Busquets’ place the team was able to add pressure. Alba at the back was able to contribute to the offensive play.

Koeman’s new-look Barcelona will be a huge challenge for Celta de Vigo, who arrive at the game unbeaten so far, buoyed by a solid defense and Iago Aspas up front.

The last time Barça beat Celta Vigo away from home was with a 4-1 victory in 2015.

Last year the Catalan team’s performance was overshadowed by a very public rift between Lionel Messi and then-manager Quique Setién’s coaching team when the Argentine decided to walk away from instructions being doled out by Eder Sarabia during a water break.

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