By Iain Rogers
MADRID, Oct 28 (Reuters) - A few familiar faces will stand between leaders Barcelona and a 10th win in 11 La Liga outings this season when the unbeaten champions take to the pitch at struggling Celta Vigo on Tuesday (2100 GMT).
The Galician club, who recorded only their second win of the campaign at Malaga on Saturday and are 15th after 10 rounds, are coached by former Barca and Spain midfielder Luis Enrique, who took charge of Barca's B team in 2008 before an unsuccessful stint at Serie A club AS Roma.
In his first term in charge at Celta, the 43-year-old has three Barca academy graduates in his squad: forward Nolito, on-loan midfielder Rafinha - the younger brother of Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago Alcantara - and centre back Andreu Fontas.
Celta produced easily their best performance of the season in thrashing Malaga 5-0 at the south coast club's Rosaleda stadium but will be up against a Barca side on a high after overcoming bitter rivals Real Madrid 2-1 at the weekend.
"To beat Barca we will have to do our jobs extremely well," Fontas said at a news conference on Sunday.
"It's almost impossible to get the ball off them and scarcely any team in the world manages it," added the 23-year-old.
Fontas, whose career was set back by a serious knee injury last year, said the win against Malaga had brightened the mood at Celta and they were more confident of surprising Barca at their Balaidos stadium.
However, the champions were even stronger under new coach Gerardo Martino, who took over from the ailing Tito Vilanova in the close season, than last term, he cautioned.
"He (Martino) has added certain things that before they didn't have and that makes them more lethal.
"It's a very dangerous team and are less predictable than in previous years."
Third-placed Real Madrid, meanwhile, need to regroup for their match at home to Sevilla on Wednesday (2100).
Defeat in the 'Clasico' left Carlo Ancelotti's men six points behind Barca and five adrift of city rivals Atletico, who play at Granada on Thursday (2100).
Ancelotti has yet to mould his expensively assembled squad into an effective unit and his tactics against Barca have been questioned in the days since Saturday's reverse at the Nou Camp.
The Italian started without a recognised striker, with Cristiano Ronaldo, record signing Gareth Bale and Angel Di Maria in a three-pronged attack.
It was only when the ineffective Bale, who is coming back after a thigh strain, was replaced by Karim Benzema on the hour with Barca leading 1-0 that Real started to look more threatening and the France forward came close to an equaliser when he smashed a superb shot against the crossbar.
Real are expecting to have their Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso back soon and he has already returned to training with his team mates as he continues his recovery after a groin operation and a broken foot.
The 5-0 drubbing Atletico inflicted on visiting Real Betis on Sunday was the latest evidence Diego Simeone's men could be contenders for the title, the first time in more than five years since Real and Barca, the world's richest clubs by income, have faced a genuine challenger. (Editing by John O'Brien)
- Sports & Recreation
- Celta Vigo
- Real Madrid