Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is wary of the threat posed by Celta Vigo ahead of their LaLiga clash at the Nou Camp on Saturday.
Barca have a four-point lead over Valencia at the top of the table and are eight points clear of arch-rivals Real Madrid, but Valverde is taking nothing for granted against Celta.
Boss Juan Carlos Unzue is a former Barca player and spent three years at the club as Luis Enrique’s assistant, while Celta have beaten Barca at home in each of the last two seasons.
“Unzue is very studious and the fact he knows the team so well makes him dangerous,” Valderde said at his pre-match press conference.
“In the end, when you play against Barca you try different things. I know because I have been up against them a lot.
“We know they have picked up results in the last few years against us and we will take it into account. Past results don’t tell you everything, but we have to be careful.
“With Unzue as coach that means they have a very clear way of playing. They want to take the initiative in the game and they will want to do that at Camp Nou.
“I played with Unzue in 1988 and we have met a lot of times, he’s a great person and I wish him the best.”
Something fundamental has changed since Unzue left the Nou Camp – Neymar is no longer a threat to visiting teams.
The Brazil star joined Paris St Germain in a world-record 222 million euro transfer in the summer, but the goals continue to flow under Valverde’s management.
Unzue told Marca: “Valverde is adapting to the players he has inherited and he is doing it well.
“There is a major change and that is that Neymar has gone – he had a very positive effect on the team. But Valverde has made the most of the players he does have and is profiting now.”
Midfielder Sergi Roberto has been named in the squad after making his return against Murcia in the Copa del Rey, while Andre Gomes returns for the first time since picking up an injury against Olympiacos in the Champions League.
Defender Sergi Gomez, who has missed Celta’s last two games due to a leg injury, has been passed fit and takes his place in Unzue’s 18-man squad. Jonathan Castro is ruled out through suspension.