In their landmark return to Catalonia on Saturday night, Barcelona recorded a dramatic 3-2 win at home to Celta Vigo.
On the verge of what could have been an ignominious failure on home soil, with Jorgen Strand Larsen and Tasos Douvikas scoring either side of the break, Xavi’s side trailed 2-0 in the final nine minutes.
However, thanks to attacking talisman Robert Lewandowski delivering a pair of clinical strikes in just four minutes, the reigning Spanish champions completed a stunning comeback here.
Having watched Manchester City loanee Joao Cancelo score a famous last-gasp winner to send the home side into the momentum, Barcelona now lead La Liga thanks to a superior goal difference over Girona, with both teams on 16 points.
However, while Xavi’s men may have enjoyed outstanding success in Catalonia, Celta will take some time to recover from their astonishing failure away from home.
Throwing away their golden chance and likely facing intense scrutiny, the Sky Blues have now won just one of their opening six La Liga fixtures.
On an evening that saw Barcelona at least briefly return to the top of the La Liga table, we looked at the main themes of Saturday’s roller-coaster battle in Catalunya.
Barça demonstrated their title resilience
Having made history last season by securing their first La Liga crown since 2019, Barcelona opened the new campaign with their sights set on another domestic romp.
While Xavi’s side may not have been at their best on Saturday night, the Spanish heavyweights certainly showed their title determination here.
Having opened their Champions League adventure with a routine performance in Catalonia earlier in the week, when they stormed their way to a routine 5-0 win against Belgian club Antwerp, Barca are in the midst of a recent purple spell.
Having marked their return from the September international break with another action-packed performance last weekend as they recorded another 5-0 win over Real Betis, the defending champions should feel that spirits are at a high in their camp.
Having won each of their previous six matches across all formats and scored 16 goals in the recent season, Barca will feel they have the ideal platform to move forward.
Lewandowski is the king of Catalonia.
Having won last season’s Golden Boot and enjoyed immediate success following a successful transfer from Bayern Munich, Lewandowski has certainly cemented his place as Barca’s new attacking icon.
Having received a string of plaudits since arriving in Catalonia and continuing his record-breaking success, the Polish superstar has once again found himself at the center of everything positive that Xavi’s team has created here.
Having led Barca’s dramatic comeback on Saturday night with a quick double in just four minutes, Lewandowski will play a key role in all competitions this season.
As well as opening his Champions League account against Antwerp earlier in the week, the 35-year-old has scored six goals in his previous five appearances for the reigning Spanish champions.
Lewandowski has only gotten better with age and is still rightfully considered one of Europe’s elite marksmen. Lewandowski will look to continue his streak of penalties when Barca travel to Mallorca on Tuesday evening.
Celta suffered an infamous collapse in Catalonia
While Celta Vigo might have opened the new campaign hoping to make a real first-half success this time, Saturday’s visitors found themselves in the midst of another La Liga struggle.
After spending much of last season looking over their shoulder at looming relegation, the Sky Blues suffered what will long be remembered as the infamous collapse on Saturday night.
Having missed out on a golden opportunity to claim only his second La Liga win in Catalonia since 2014, Rafa Benitez could have some mounting pressure on his shoulders at Balaidos.
Having marked his return from the September international break with a toothless 1-0 win at home to Mallorca last weekend, the former Newcastle manager has seen his dismal side record just one win in any of their opening six top-flight matches .
Having quickly gained a reputation for their long-running defensive woes and finishing Saturday’s matches just one point away from falling into the drop zone, Celta will take some time to recover from their woeful away defeat.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Cancelo, Kounde, Christensen, Alonso, Gundogan, Romeu, De Jong, Torres, Lewandowski, Felix
Spare parts: Gavi, Balde, Araujo, Yamal, Rafinha
Celta Vigo: Villar, Mingueza, Nunez, Starfelt, Dominguez, Ristic, De la Torre, Beltran, Bambam Aspas, Strand Larsen
Spare parts: Dotor, Duvikas, Rodriguez, Svedberg
Goals: Barcelona: Lewandowski (81′, 85′), Cancelo (89′) – Celta: Strand Larsen (19′), Duvikas (76′)
Yellow cards: Barcelona: Christensen, Gavi – Celta Vigo: Nunez
Red cards: N/A
Judge: Mario Melero Lopez