The Ghost Walks: Barcelona-Celta PreviewBy: kage | November 1st, 2012
We’ve all lived through nightmares that made us break out in a cold sweat. Have you had this one?: you’re a Barca fan; your team is playing at the Camp Nou against a team that defends like a turtle; it’s bombs away on the opposing goal, but someone keeps getting in the way – a reserve goalkeeper, who can fly through the air, levitate horizontally from post to post, push out everything that comes his way… until, late in overtime, with the other team reduced to nine men, Barca wins a penalty, Leo Messi steps up to take it, he fires it toward the corner of the goal, the game is won the game is won the nightmare is over, until who to our wondering eyes should appear but the ghostly figure of that reserve keeper, flying again, pushing that penalty to the side, the points are lost forever, and with them away forever slip the Barca title chances…. you scream out loud, and then you wake up. To find that all this actually happened. It was late October 2011. And that ghostly apparition of a keeper is coming to Barcelona again, on Saturday, with Celta Vigo.
The spectral keeper was Javi Varas, and to be fair he wasn’t exactly a reserve then — he’d won the regular Sevilla spot for a season and a half over the excellent Andres Palop. But he didn’t hold it forever, and now, at the age of 30, he is on loan to Celta Vigo. Who visit Barcelona on Saturday at the ungodly hour of 6:00 PM local time. A cold sweat breaks out; the small hairs on the back of the neck rise; he’s back.
Celta is a middling-at-best club whose record on the road this season includes exactly zero victories and zero draws. They have a few threats, including one with a Shakespearian name (Iago Aspas) and one that comes from the country where this writer lives (Michael Krohn-Dehli); Enrique de Lucas has scored twice in two games, and Mario Bermejo twice in three. But really Celta doesn’t score lots of goals – they’re tied for fourth-worst in the league. Not only this, but one of their starting backs, Gustavo Cabral, was ejected in their last game, which should mean he’s suspended for this one. And the technically-gifted Dane, Krohn-Dehli (whom for Celta was an expensive buy), has yet to score in La Liga. And Celta just lost in the Copa del Rey to Almeria – from the Segunda. So even this howling Cassandra of a correspondent is sweetly optimistic for this game… unless, of course, the Ghost Walks.
After all, Celta doesn’t give up huge numbers of goals either: tied for fourth best in the league (having conceded exactly as many as F.C. Barcelona). And they have this Javi Varas guy…. Oh, come on! He’s a very average 30-year old keeper who couldn’t even hold on to the Sevilla job! – But but. There was this one terrible night in October, a year and a week ago….
All right. I’ll listen to sense. Here’s that sense: Barca’s racked up manitas in their past two Liga games. Leo Messi got some well-deserved rest on Tuesday, meaning that for the first time since Adam and Eve began booting a football around in their Garden, Leo will be better-rested than his opponents. [LATE NOTE: Leo had his first child, Thiago Messi, late on Friday. He might play or might not -- knowing Messi, one would imagine that he will play. But forget about that above rubbish about Leo being well-rested for once!] Xavi also got the Copa game off. In fact even those who played on Tuesday against Alaves have had one more day of rest than Celta has. And there’s more. David Villa is back, and has been scoring like… David Villa (for a change). Cesc Fabregas has been playing champagne football of late, Javier Mascherano has now served his one-game suspension for having two arms attached to his shoulder in the gerneral neighborhood of his opponent, and as we all know Sergio Busquets will deserve and get a 13 rating for this game (it’s one louder than 12).
So Barca is going to win. But not by a manita, says this writer. Celta’s had four road games; they’ve lost by 1-2 three times and 0-2 once (to Real Madrid). Yet we’ll be bright and cheery and say Barca will go where no team has gone before and do better: final score, 0-3, with goals by Messi, Villa, and Tello (here’s hoping he plays instead of Pedro, who’s rediscovered his maladroit touch lately). Oh, and Messi will get his on a penalty. Tello his with just 10 minutes to go. And ya hoid it here foist.
Unless, of course, the ghost walks, and leaves us muttering,
What may this mean,
That thou, dead cor[p]se, again in complete steel,
Revisit’st thus the glimpses of the moon.
Making night hideous ; and we, fools of nature,
So horridly to shake our disposition,
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?