Following half a decade in the wilderness of the Segunda Division, Celta Vigo fought nobly last season to eventually finish runners-up, earning a return to La Liga.
The Galician outfit narrowly avoided entering administration in 2007 and the last few years have simply been a battle to remain in the competition. That was before current Coach Paco Herrera expertly marshalled the team to the play-off places in 2011, and oversaw a return to Spain’s top flight last term.
The Celeste’s sole objective for the upcoming campaign will be to survive – despite the fact they were in the Champions League the last time they had a concrete run in the premier Division.
Striker Iago Aspas will carry a colossal burden in attempting to deliver in the final third, as Celta’s main proficiency has always been in attack. Aspas contributed 23 goals to his side’s remarkable 83, which was more successful strikes than any other Segunda team last term. Influential Chilean Fabian Orellana’s return to parent club Granada will undoubtedly be a sizeable blow, as the second striker ended the season with 13 goals and countless assists.
Celta have already landed Argentina international Augusto Fernandez from Velez Sarsfield and have also been strongly linked with Arsenal’s infamous forward Nicklas Bendtner. Herrera’s direct attacking style has earned the club many new admirers, but the former Liverpool assistant manager continues to reinforce his at times culpable defence.
Sevilla's reputable goalkeeper Javi Varas has been brought in to add an experienced head in a relatively young dressing room. Defenders Samuel Llorca and Gustavo Cabral have also been signed from Hercules and Levante respectively. Celta Vigo will have to continue to pick up the August transfer scraps for the momentous campaign that lies ahead.
The difference maker – Iago Aspas
Iago Aspas will have to be the difference maker for Celta Vigo this season if they any chance of survival. The home grown striker has spent his entire career with the Galician outfit in the Segunda Division, and it is finally his time to prove himself on the biggest stage.
Best signing – Javi Varas
Javi Varas has been by far Celta’s shrewdest move of the summer transfer window. The arrival of fellow goalkeeper Diego Lopez at Sevilla meant Vargas’s place was under immediate threat. His skill and experience between the sticks will prove invaluable in this measurable season.
His time? Augusto Fernandez
Augusto Fernandez has already had an uneventful spell in European football and France with Saint-Etienne. A return home for the right winger also brought back his impressive form, and Celta will be hoping his four-year deal will be prosperously completed at the very least.
Coach – Paco Herrera
Paco Herrera has earned a reputation as a journeyman Coach – since 1992 his longest job has lasted two years. Experience at top level football as assistant to Rafael Benitez might prove vital for the biggest test in his 20 years in management.
The big question…
Are Celta Vigo strong enough to survive the rigors of top flight football?
Probable line-up: VARGAS; Mallo, Tunez, CABRAL, Lago; FERNANDEZ, Oubina, Insa, Joan Thomas; Bermejo, Aspas.
IN: Vargas (gk, Sevilla), Llorca (d, Hercules), Cabral (d, Arsenal de Sarandi), Fernandez (m, Velez Sarsfield) and Abalo (m, Gimnastic de Tarragona)
OUT: Papadopoulos (s, free agent), Rodriguez (gk, Lugo), Catala (d, Larnaca), Oier (d, Osasuna) and Orellana (s, Granada)