The Galicians have recovered from a slow start to put together a great campaign, winning their last four games to put themselves in contention for a European spot.
Here’s a look at the keys behind their success and the role of coach Eduardo Coudet, who’s impressed in his first season coaching in LaLiga.
RC Celta come into the final two games of the season in great form and on the back of four wins on the bounce. Just this week they picked up another three points, against Getafe CF at Abanca Balaidos thanks to a goal from veteran striker Nolito.
The win saw them pass the 50-point mark and into eighth pace in the table, with a record of 13 wins and 11 draws.
Huge credit should go to the Galician side’s coach, Eduardo Coudet. The Argentine took over on Matchday 9, with the club in the relegation zone. After a defeat to Sevilla FC in his first game, the team slowly but surely began to rise up the table.
Coudet has a clear game plan, opting for a 4-1-3-2 system in 84% of matches. It’s an unusual system in LaLiga Santander, with four players in the middle of the park in a diamond formation. This approach allows the team to press effectively in the opponent’s half and favours play through the middle. It also gives players like Renato Tapia to express themselves in the holding midfield pivot position. Likewise, it has brought the best out of players like Brais Mendez, Denis Suarez and Nolito, and of course Iago Aspas, who leads the line with greater freedom of movement.
One setback is that the system concentrates play through the middle at the expense of the flanks. It’s no coincidence, therefore, that Celta have generated the second-fewest crosses in all of LaLiga Santander.
Celta have also developed a reputation for starting games quickly. The side have scored over half of their goals in the first half of games. Coudet has an ace up his sleeve if things look complicated, however: Fran Beltran. The 22-year-old Madrid native, signed from Rayo Vallecano back in 2018, is the most used player off the bench in the squad.
Three stats demonstrate the team’s effectiveness. Celta are the second most-effective team in front of goal in LaLiga Santander, generating a match-scoring chance on 10% of their possessions. According to Mediacoach data – LaLiga’s own real time tactical analysis tool – Celta get over 41% of their shots on target, with a 6.8% goal conversion rate, the third highest in LaLiga Santander. Forwards Iago Aspas and Santi Mina stand out in this respect, with 20% of their shots on goal ending up in the back of the net.
Defensively, Celta are very difficult to break down. They’ve made the third-most recoveries in the league, something that is part and parcel of Coudet’s defensive philosophy.
Staring from the back, Celta have a pair of excellent goalkeepers who have alternated between the sticks more or less equally this season: Ruben Blanco (34 saves across 1,639 minutes) and Ivan Villar (43 saves across 1,599 minutes).
On the defensive line, Jeison Murillo, Néstor Araújo, Hugo Mallo, Joseph Aidoo and Aarón Martín have played the most minutes this season. Club captain Mallo is actually among the team’s top five scorers, with three goals this season.
Murillo has made the second-most passes for the side, while Aaron Martin has made three assists, fourth most in the squad together with Santi Mina.
The creative drivers and engine room behind Celta this season have been Renato Tapia, Denis Suarez, Fran Beltran and Brais Mendez. Mendez, together with Santi Mina, is a big goalscoring threat. Between them they’ve scored over half of the team’s goals in recent weeks. Denis Suarez, meanwhile, is the team’s top passer, as well as the second top assist provider with nine.
And don’t forget the forward line of Iago Aspas, Nolito and Santi Mina. Aspas, in particular, is the key to the side. He’s played a part in 24 of Celta’s goals this season. He’s the top scorer (13) and the top assist provider (11). Across LaLiga Santander, only Atleti’s Marcos Llorente has also registered double figures in both goals and assists this season.