Monday night was a pretty special one at Balaidos as Celta Vigo claimed a 2-1 victory over Granada to confirm a spot in the Europa League for next season. It means they will play European football for the first time in 10 years, when they were knocked out of the the UEFA Cup by Werder Bremen in the round of 16.
Their two goals came courtesy on Monday of Iago Aspas, which was especially apt considering the journey that the 28-year-old has been on with his club. The forward was the man who kept them in the Second Division, when memories of playing in Europe were long gone, the man who took them back into La Liga in 2012 as the club’s top scorer and the man who helped them stay there when they returned. Aspas probably outgrew Os Celestes back then, leaving for Liverpool before moving onto Sevilla. When he came home though, his moves were considered failures, particularly on Merseyside, and it was almost as if he was back to square one. Now, Celta’s No 9 is the one leading them to continental competition, and the Galicians are well and truly on the up.
The Coach who has masterminded the rise since Luis Enrique laid the foundations for success is Eduardo Berizzo, and his ambitious nature has only driven his team on, shown by his desire to push even further during this campaign. He spoke about not simply settling for the Europa League after the win on Monday.
“We’re looking for fifth, fourth and everything we can,” Berizzo told reporters. “Getting into Europe is significant and we have to push. They are [four] points ahead and we pursue a great rival [in Villarreal]. We’ll go out to win and look for three wins, that’ll make us happy. Having stayed up I don’t know how many games ago we have gotten into Europe before the end of the season, a great merit that feels natural. We’re a real team. The magnitude of that word includes all of us.”
The Argentine has matched his determined talk after the game by signing a contract extension this week, and he will surely be excited by the prospect of Coaching Celta in Europe. It is nothing less than they deserve. They have been a thrilling team to watch this season, playing attacking and direct football with some very talented players.
Nonetheless, there has also been some disappointing news emanating from the club recently as it appears their sporting director Miguel Torrecilla is leaving to replace Eduardo Macia at Real Betis. Torrecilla’s departure will be a big blow, given that he has played a huge part in some big signings, including Nolito, Augusto Fernandez and John Guidetti and has therefore played his role in helping the club improve year on year. The good news for the Galicians is that with the attraction of European football, bringing in players to help sustain their success should not be a problem, which eases the loss slightly.
Getting into Europe is a huge achievement for Celta, especially when taking into account the fact that this is only their fourth season back in La Liga. The Europa League will bring new challenges to Balaidos, but you can bet on Berizzo’s side to take it all in their stride, just as they have done this season.