For the third consecutive game, Barcelona put in a poor performance, this time against Celta Vigo at home.
Had it not been for heroics from goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, the Catalan side would have been staring up at Real Madrid in the league table.
The lone goal of the game was scored by Pedri in Barcelona’s only good moments of the game.
Xavi’s side started out positive and on the front foot. They had a couple of shots saved by Celta goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin. The best of the bunch came from a long-range strike from Raphinha that Marchesin managed to parry away.
Ferran Torres, given a rare start, couldn’t connect with a Jordi Alba cross before that, which was Barcelona’s best opportunity from open play.
The goal from Pedri was gifted by Celta as the center-back tried to clear a ball but didn’t put enough strength on his attempt. It was left dangerously in the area as Pedri raced for a tap-in.
The final 10 minutes or so of the first half and the majority of the second half, Barcelona were constantly second best as Celta vied for an equalizer.
Ter Stegen came up huge time and time again, including late in the game when it seemed Iago Aspas was going to make the game level.
Xavi tried changing things up by bringing on Frenkie de Jong, Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele. But the trio never got into the game and were all ineffective.
With Celta continuing to apply the pressure, Xavi brought in Sergi Roberto and Eric Garcia to try to reinforce a shaky defense. Those changes also had mixed results at best.
In the end, Barcelona were praying for the final whistle and got it after 6 minutes of stoppage time.
With the win, Barcelona jumped ahead of Real Madrid and go into El Clasico as LaLiga leaders. But the display is certainly going to be a point of concern for both Xavi and the players. The international break has seemingly thrown the team out of whack.
They were able to pull out a result against Mallorca and Celta Vigo but lost against Inter Milan in the Champions League.
Before El Clasico, Barcelona play for their Champions League future at the Camp Nou against the aforementioned. If they want to avoid the embarrassment of failing to advance out of the group stage, they need a win against Inter. Anything less likely means another season in the Europa League.
For Barcelona’s sake, they better hope they can find their pre-international break form and quick.