RC Celta saw themselves forced to fire the savior of the team from a couple seasons ago just into the 12th game of the current campaign. He was a coach who brought back the excitement to Vigo. In order words, his impact got faded away.
The team that since November 2020 had been known for its dynamic football style, a very high pressure and the bond between the roster and the crowd had turned into a flat squad without neither ideas nor resources. Furthermore, their most outstanding sale from the summer transfer market, their academy player Brais Méndez, was being the revelation of LaLiga nd his numbers blushed the ones he got at Vigo.
Just to make things clear, Celta’s fans are known for meeting extremes pretty easy: if you win two games, that means that you will make it to the Champions League, and so if two losses in a row take place the end of the world is near. Celta were one point above relegation by then, but they have only earned four out of the last 24 in a very negative streak. For the crowd, the team was condemned to go down and that is when Carvahal joined in.
The Portuguese was a personal bet from manager Luis Campos, who also works for Paris Saint Germain, but he was barely known for the Spanish fans despite succeeding at Sporting Portugal. His debut ended up on a defeat at home against Osasuna, who should also be an exemplary program to follow. This way, he did not start the right way.
The only good news seemed to be the rise of a young star in the first team as it is Gabri Veiga, who was a competitive reality that Celta needed to take advantage of and secure him for the future. Carvahal’s squad started to improve and attract the crowd.
The coach chose the high speed playing style that people love in Vigo and began to make the most out of additions from summer that the Argentinian coach did not count on: Luca De la Torre showed up; Swedberg finally got some minutes, a young 5 million signing from previous months; Carles Pérez became important and sent Cervi to the bench; and Mingueza earned some extra minutes and even started to add offensively both as a central defender in a three line and then as a right back. The team was rebuilding step by step.
Despite the positive vibes, Celta were knocked out from the Spanish Cup right after the World Cup, a tournament that the fans get excited with every year in order to lift a title, and were only able to beat the last team of the table by one goal. This way, the good vibes were only that, vibes, but points were not coming up. Celta reached the toughest part of the season tight with Valladolid, the team that marked the limit with relegation.
How would Celta make it out of a streak of games versus Athletic Club, Real Betis, Atlético de Madrid and Real Sociedad, all in a row? The most optimistic were confident in getting four points nd stay at the same position by the end of the uphill.
In the end, Celta have picked up seven out of 12 points and we can say that they have been better than their opponent in three out of the four games (they actually got the win in the most even game against Athletic). After this sequence of games, the team is currently 14º, two points above relegation and with the hope of reaching the Conference League (eight points from the 7th spot after having played already against most of the top teams).
Celta are struggling in some games with both the lack of scoring capacity from their strikers and the usual dependence of Iago Aspas, but Gabri Veiga is adding fresh air from the second line. The midfielder is proving why he always used to play close to the box in the academy, most of the time acting as a winger, and then as a playmaker for the second team. He really has a gift with goals.
Two weeks ago he even had the best scoring per minute stats as a midfielder in the entire league (only behind Oihan Sancet and Fede Valverde in total goals) and he was the third top scorer Under-21 in the top five leagues above diamonds such as Wirtz, established stars in the midfield such as De Bruyne or Bruno Fernandes and even strikers like João Félix or Son Heung-Min. Gabri Veiga does not seem to have any ceiling and the fans are praying for rich Premier League clubs to not come for him.
But these Celta is not only about Gabri, as there are other players who have linked up with the crowd right away such as Larsen, who is a very promising striker despite still struggling a little bit with his numbers; Carles Pérez acting as the striker that the team demands; and Mingueza, who is adding way more offensively than expected. Iago Aspas even goes unnoticed because we are already used to him being the best player of a team that is not in the Champions League and who will once again be a candidate to win the Spanish top scorer trophy at the end of the season and at the age of 35.
We will see if the team maintains this progression and Europe can become a reality or if this is just a new happiness episode for the crowd after a winning streak.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @RCCelta.