Barca went back to top of La Liga before Clasico

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Barcelona went back to the top of La Liga a week before the Clasico – it wasn’t pretty but Pedri’s first half goal was enough to see them beat Celta Vigo and displace Real Madrid at the summit.

Once the Spain international midfielder had put them in front their defensive strength saw them over the line

– a recalled Gerard Pique was outstanding and keeper Marc Andre ter Stegen maintained Barca’s impressive record of only conceding once in the league all season.

Watch the impressive winning goal of Barcelona now!

They will need to play better next week at the Bernabeu

– and even more importantly on Wednesday in their must-win Champions League home game with Inter. Xavi’s first full season is on the line in those two games.

Barcelona dominated the first half but could not extend their lead. They left the pitch feeling hard done by with referee Jose Luis Munuera ignoring claims that Raphinha

had been fouled in the area by Javi Galan.

Pique blocked from Oscar Rodriguez in the second half as Celta pressed. Ter Stegen was still feeling his hip from a bad fall in the second period and he played a loose

pass straight out to the same player but Celta were unable to make the most.

Barcelona were struggling to find Lewandowski while at the other end Celta

found Iago Aspas and a save with his left boot from Ter Stegen pushed the shot out for a corner and kept Barcelona in front with six minutes left.

There were two more saves and Ter Stegen saved brilliantly from Carles Perez just after Aspas had hit the post. Both times Celta were offside so the goals would not have counted.

Barca played out time knowing they had not been at their best

– much like their Clasico rivals Real Madrid the night before. There were plusses beyond the win though. Pique was majestic in the heart of defence.

He looks capable of staying true to his promise of finishing the season as first choice.

After two largely underwhelming displays on the road after the international break,

Barcelona were back at the Camp Nou tonight,

ready to lock horns against Celta Vigo.

Xavi deployed a very experimental back-four on the night,

using Marcos Alonso alongside Gerard Pique in the heart of the defence. Alejandro Balde started as the right-back,

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while Jordi Alba returned to his usual left-back role.

Pedri opened the scoring with an easy tap-in,

courtesy of Unai Nunez’s missed clearance. And while the score was 1-0 at the end of the first 45, the match was not without controversy.

The Catalans were denied a clear penalty, 

yet again, as Raphinha was brought down in the box by Javi Galan.

Pedri scored the winner as Barcelona edged past Celta Vigo to return to the top of La Liga on goal difference.

The 19-year-old reacted quickest to turn home from three yards,

after Gavi’s cross from the left was cut out, for his second goal of the season.

It was a disjointed performance from Barca,

with Celta pushing after going behind,

coming closest when Jorgen Strand Larsen had a header disallowed.

Iago Aspas also saw an effort saved,

while Goncalo Paciencia hit a post.

Real Madrid had gone top of the league with a 1-0 win at Getafe on Saturday.

Sandwiched in between their two Champions League games against Inter Milan, 

Barcelona hosted Celta Vigo at Spotify Camp Nou in a key league fixture. With Real Madrid winning their game on Saturday,

the pressure was on the Catalans to retain their lead by taking all three points.

encounter against Inter Milan but that was not the case on Sunday night. The defence was the only department that saw drastic changes with Marcos Alonso starting alongside Gerard Pique at centre-back.

Jordi Alba played on the left side of the defence while Alejandro Balde was asked to play on the right. In attack,

The hosts started the game brightly and maintained their dominance throughout the opening period. Their relentless onslaught began with the opening whistle and it took less than eight minutes for their first big chance to arrive at the feet of Torres.

After Lewandowski scuffed a headed attempt in the 11th minute,

Xavi’s side came painfully close to scoring three minutes later. Torres’ initial effort was saved well by the Celta goalkeeper before falling to Raphinha. However,

the Brazilian could not find space to shoot.

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