Celta Vigo vs Barcelona: Three things that will shape the outcome

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Barcelona travel to Vigo for a tantalising top of the table clash against Celta.

The Galicians were immense in both matches last season, winning at Camp Nou for the first time since 1977 and taking the Catalans all the way, losing only to a stunning Jeremy Mathieu header.

Given the way in which both teams have begun this campaign, there's every reason to think that another spectacular 90 minutes is likely at Balaidos.


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With tensions from the last game at the venue still simmering, it provides a sinister undertone and one which the hosts will be keen to take advantage of.

Let's take a look at three things that could author the outcome of this one...

Barca old boy

How often have players come back to haunt previous clubs that they have played at?!

Nolito is no different. An exquisite back-heel assist at Camp Nou last season outfoxed the entire Barcelona defence allowing Joaquin Larrivey to score what turned out to be the winning goal. A goal which saw Celta take all three points from the Blaugrana for the first time in 37 years.

He was unlucky again not to hit the headlines in the return fixture, Claudio Bravo denying him on at least three occasions.

This season already he has four goals and an assist in four games. He has looked lively and alert to every possibility.

On this form, it's completely understandable how he has earned his place in the national team and Barca certainly need to be aware of the danger he will present.

If results elsewhere go their way, Nolito could fire Celta to the top of the table with another performance of quality.

Neymar's short fuse

Hugo Mallo has got under the skin of Neymar more than most.

The Celta right-back has given as good as he's got in all four previous games when up against Neymar...and the Brazilian doesn't like it one bit.

During the last encounter, and after a particularly tricky evening's work from one of Barca's finest exponents, Neymar took it upon himself to blow his nose in Mallo's direction, standing just a few feet away.

It was a disgusting incident missed by the officials but not Mallo's team-mates and we can be assured that they'll be tempting the Brazilian to blow a notoriously short fuse here.

Such antics may even be the game changer in a match of such fine margins but Barca can ill afford to be without Neymar for more matches, having missed the beginning of the campaign with mumps.

Pique's presence

Finally, after four games without him at the heart of the backline, Barca can welcome back Gerard Pique. And not before time.

Although the Catalans have done reasonably well in his absence, they have looked brittle defensively at times.

Pique's return should inject an air of calmness into the back line as Barca field their first-choice defence for the first time this season.

His presence could help the Catalans to another clean sheet here, and potentially the three points which will keep them ahead of the chasing pack that currently includes their hosts.

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