Sunday night’s thrilling 3-3 draw between Real Betis and Celta Vigo was unquestionably the standout match of the weekend in La Liga, and a strong contender for game of the season to date. It was a thrilling end-to-end encounter packed full of stunning strikes, disallowed goals, the rattling of the woodwork and a sideline scuffle.
For the visiting Galician side, the game served as a microcosm of their season to date – demonstrating their huge strengths and gaping weaknesses. Responding from two goals down with fearsome attacking play before blowing their lead in the final moments, then both creating and allowing clear chances in the dying minutes.
Celta lie 11th in the standings with 14 points from their opening 11 games but have won just once in their last eight matches. That in itself was a convincing 4-0 victory at home to Eibar, a peak into how good they *can* be but a reminder of how regularly they underperform. They have scored seven more goals than Atletico Madrid and four more than Real Madrid, yet only three other sides in the division have conceded more.
New boss Antonio Mohamed has a high-risk, high-pressing strategy that, when it works, is spectacular. The problem is though that between Iago Aspas and Maxi Gomez, he has arguably the best attack in the division outside of Barcelona yet his side are not in the top half. They are blatantly unbalanced, top-heavy and without a structure necessary to reach their clear potential.
Their next four matches include tricky trips to Real Sociedad and Villarreal alongside hosting Real Madrid – it is tough to see them significantly adding to their paltry win tally unless they find those elusive factors.
Six outfield players who have featured regularly this season were summer arrivals and it is natural that some may take a little while to settle, but one can only wonder where the club would be sitting where it not for the ongoing brilliance of Aspas and Gomez. They aren’t Celta’s only attacking talents – Pione Sisto is one of the most underappreciated talents in La Liga while Emre Mor, Sofiane Boufal and Fran Beltran have bags of offensive ability.
After collecting 10 points from their opening four games, coupled with the instability at other clubs usually competing for European spots, there were widespread hopes that Celta would return to Europe for next season. Such a possibility should not yet be ruled out, but unless they amend their structural deficiencies, it could be another season of frustration for fans and fun for neutrals.
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