Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez complimented his side’s “winning character” following a remarkable 3-2 comeback to defeat Celta Vigo on Saturday and climb top of La Liga.
Robert Lewandowski’s brace and Joao Cancelo’s late winner helped his club win despite entering the last 10 minutes of the game down by two goals. The coach celebrated his 50th victory in La Liga this week, which coincided with the signing of a new contract that would keep him employed until 2025.
The away team scored twice thanks to goals from Jorgen Strand Larsen and Anastasios Douvikas, and they seemed to be headed for an upset victory against the defending champions. However, Barcelona staged a comeback that Xavi described as “epic.”
“We didn’t play well, (but) came up with the epic, showing winning character,” Xavi said to the press after the game.
“Throughout our history, we have been lacking that…this demonstrates the generational difference we have, they didn’t give up when they were down two goals at home.
“I think this generation fights until the very end… what happened today is a tremendous turning point of winning character, we didn’t play well but it’s about character, faith, and the epic,” he said.
Wily Rafa Benitez, the coach of Celta, choose to line up in his customary defensive mode, in contrast to the previous guests of Barcelona, Real Betis and Royal Antwerp, whose offensive desire made them easy targets for Barcelona’s defense.
In their previous two games, Barcelona scored 10 goals, and Xavi said it was the best they had played under his leadership. However, this performance was mainly on the other end of the spectrum from their previous ones.
“(Winning) has a delicious aftertaste, but is it better than the day we played Betis or Antwerp? “No, because this is not the way that we should go,” said Xavi.
“When we drop our intensity, this team suffers a lot more than when we play like we did the other day, playing well and moving the ball around high up the pitch,” the coach said.
Celta provides a rebuttal
Celta Vigo took the lead against the run of play after 19 minutes, despite the fact that Barcelona dominated the early going while not generating a great deal of danger for themselves.
After a corner kick was only half cleared, Andreas Christensen put Strand Larsen onside, and the Norwegian attacker killed the game off with a clinical effort beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
At the opposite end of the field, Joao Felix was unable to maintain possession of a brilliantly scooped through ball from Frenkie de Jong before the Dutch midfielder suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by the tough adolescent Gavi. Gavi was the substitute.
According to rumors from Spain, De Jong might be out of action for as long as five weeks, meaning he would likely be out for the Clasico match against Real Madrid at the end of October.
On the counterattack, Celta regularly created issues, and Ter Stegen was instrumental in preventing Strand Larsen and Jonathan Bamba from scoring.
After some time had passed, Benitez’s team scored their second goal via new acquisition Douvikas, who finished with a sweeping effort after racing onto Iago Aspas’ wonderfully weighted ball.
However, Barcelona responded quickly, as Lewandowski scored a goal by deflecting the ball over the head of Villar and in off the crossbar after Felix deftly chipped the ball to him from above the goal line.
It kindled a fire that had previously been absent in Barcelona’s play, and four minutes later, Lewandowski scored the second goal when Cancelo put the ball back into his path to score after passing it to him.
Cancelo, displaying the striking skills of a striker, finished off Gavi’s magnificent cross by beating Villar to score the game-winning goal for Barcelona.
Cancelo told Movistar that he needed to improve his game, as did the rest of the team. “I was making a lot of technical errors, which is not normal for my game,” Cancelo said.
It’s always better to play poorly and win than to play well and lose, because the three points are the most important thing. “It’s always better to play badly and win than to play well and lose.”
“Take a photo of the screen.”
Earlier in the day, Girona cruised to a 5-3 victory against Real Mallorca to go into sole possession of the top spot in La Liga. However, Barcelona later moved them back down to second place by virtue of their superior goal differential.
The undefeated team led by Michel has gotten off to a strong start to the season, winning five of their first six matches.
The joke was made by the Girona coach Michel. “Let’s all take a screenshot and see if this lasts more than an hour and a half,” he said.
Real Madrid, which is presently in third place and has a perfect record, will play Atletico Madrid on Sunday in a rivalry match where they will have the opportunity to retake first place. Real Madrid is currently one point behind the top two teams.
Almeria, which is now in last place in the standings, played Valencia to an exciting tie score of 2-2.
Osasuna and Sevilla played to a scoreless draw at El Sadar, leaving Sevilla in the same precarious position they were in before the game.