Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino believes his squad has taken a sizable mental boost from their win over Real Madrid in Saturday’s Clasico. In the biggest match of his short tenure to date, Martino’s men held off a second-half fight back from their fierce rivals at the Camp Nou to gain a 2-1 victory and maintain their lead atop La Liga. But Martino believes that the result and opening up a six-point advantage over Madrid, were not the most important upshots the victory.
“Winning a Clasico is always a psychological boost,” he said, according to Spanish sports daily AS. “I said before the game that this [mental] effect would be greater than the points. What’s more, we won a very hard game in which there were spells that we were better and spells that we were second best.”
Following the dramatic and controversial battle, Barcelona will now be targeting a win at Celta Vigo on Tuesday to at least preserve their solitary point advantage over Atletico Madrid. After an intense week, in which Barcelona previously drew at Osasuna and Milan, Martino is fully aware of the risk of his players taking their eye off the ball at the Estadio Balaidos.
“It’s always dangerous after a Clasico,” he explained. “We had to think about Osasuna, Milan, then Madrid and now we’re looking to [the game against] Celta. There’s no room to get comfortable.”
Barcelona will come up against a familiar face in Vigo in the shape of former long-time player and B team coach Luis Enrique. After Tito Vilanova was forced to step down late in the summer, there was much speculation that Enrique was in contention to take the reins at the Camp Nou, despite having only recently been appointed as Celta boss.
Things have not started well for the former Spain international in his new role, however. The club had taken just six points from their first nine league games, before a four-match losing streak was snapped with a most welcome 5-0 victory away at Malaga on Saturday.
Michael Krohn-Dehli, Samuel, Mario Bermejo and Carlos Bellvis are all ruled out with the match against Barcelona through injury. For Barcelona, Gerard Pique has been left out of the squad as a precaution following recent fitness issues. Xavi may start on the bench after the 33-year-old played three matches in quick succession.
Prediction: It is hard to know what to make of Barcelona’s victory in El Clasico. From the positive point of view, the team passed their first real test under Martino’s regime. However, it was far from a convincing victory against a Madrid side that were hampered by their tactics for more than half the match. Martino wants his team to change its style and not press as high as it has done in previous years, but it was worrying how easily they lost control of the game at the start of the second half. Lionel Messi was also unusually subdued, which makes the immediate impact of Neymar and return to form of Alexis Sanchez all the more welcome.
It may take Barcelona some time to get going after the intensity of the battle under 72 hours previous, but, against a Celta team yet to record a win at home this season, they should pick up another three points.
Celta Vigo 0-2 Barcelona
Where to watch: The Primera Division match will kick off at 5 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport Espanol, with the second half shown on beIN Sport. A live stream will be available on beIN Sport Play.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.