With much better game than results, Rafa Benítez has not taken long to put together the Celtic a recognizable team type, of its own bias, in which many changes of roles can be seen with respect to the one that concluded last season so hastily. The Madrid coach has modified the position and function in the team of some of the starters with Coudet and Carvalhal, has maintained the role of others and has given stripes to new facesmainly Starfelt, Bamba and Ristic, with a different game scheme than the one he himself planned to use when he took over the team.
Óscar Mingueza, Luca de la Torre and Iago Aspas have acquired a new role with Benítez. The Barcelona native has gained prominence with the new coach after being residual last year with Coudet and important later with Carvalhal, who alternated him as a center back and right back until a major muscle injury in his right thigh (11 games out) relegated him to the substitution in the final stretch of the last championship. With Carvalhal he served mostly as a right center back, with the mission of bringing out the ball and adding to the construction of the play almost like a third midfielder, exploiting his good passing conditions in the last third of the field.
Benítez essentially sees Mingueza as a right back and he has always used it in this position, since the second day as a right winger in a line of five defenders. His prominence in Celta has grown exponentially, to the point of being the only outfield player who has played in all six games played to date. Benítez uses him as a long-range winger, with skills in the construction of the play and influence near the rival area to exploit his associative capacity, precision in the lateral center and arrival. He adds a goal and is one of the players who has shot the most on goal at this start of the season.
Luca de la Torre has established himself as a starter with Benítez in a different position than the one he occupied with Carvalhal, who used him on the left wing. The man from Madrid has put the Californian in charge of the engine room in the position in which he had been playing before signing for Celta. Luca shares the spotlight with Fran Beltrán (who maintains his role), but with a more offensive profile, more freedom of movement to join the attack and the mission of going out to pressure the opponent’s release of the ball. In his most offensive facet he has already provided significant returns to the team. The two goals that Larsen has scored this season come preceded by a steal of the ball by Luca near the rival area.
Aspas makes the pass more profitable than the shot
No less striking is the new role that Iago Aspas plays with Benítez. The man from Moañés now plays further back, almost as an offensive midfielder (or false nine, in his own words) to act as a catalyst for the game on the offensive front. The goal is resisting him more than necessary, but in this liaison role Iago has provided another type of return to Celta. The data from Opta, the LaLiga data analysis statistical company, is eloquent: Iago Aspas is the Spanish LaLiga player who has participated the most in attacking sequences with the ball played that end in a shot (shots, chances generated and offensive construction ). Although he has not scored, the Morracense has given two assists and is the team’s top assist.
39 – Iago Aspas is the Spanish player who has participated in the most attacking sequences with the ball played that end in a shot in LaLiga this season (shots, chances created and offensive construction). Intensity. pic.twitter.com/xXIxzyjE2f
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 26, 2023
Among the players who have maintained the role they have been playing are Iván Villar, who has established himself in goal, Beltrán, who continues to serve as a defensive pivot and Carlos Domínguez, who has recently acquired prominence on the left profile of the line of three centre-backs. . Unai Núñez, meanwhile, maintains his stripes, although as a right center back in defense of five, instead of occupying the left profile of the axis in a line of four as a companion to Aidoo, who has disappeared from the map this season. Larsen, for his part, has established himself as the most advanced man, often falling to the right wing.
While waiting for the role that Douvikas can play, who shows good manners, Starfelt, Bamba and Ristic have taken center stage of the new faces of the team at the beginning of the course. The Swedish center back has emerged as Benítez’s great defensive reference. He occupies the central axis of the line and has played absolutely everything since he has been available. Tactical rigor and mastery of the aerial game are his greatest guarantees for now.
It is no less important for Benítez Bamba, a versatile attacker, with overflow, movement, great work capacity and notable associative talent. The Celtic coach has used the Ivorian mainly on the left wing, but also on the right side, with interesting benefits. He lacked, if possible, a better choice in finishing the play.
Signed on the last day of the market, Ristic has established himself since his arrival as the coach’s first option to cover the loss of Javi Galán at left back. The lack of minutes that he had at Benfica has not prevented Benítez from giving him stripes to the detriment of Manu Sánchez, whose defensive balance does not convince the coach. The Serbian has been correct. He has not made any appreciable errors in defense and has shown precision in lateral crosses the few times he has joined the attack.
The new order imposed by Benítez also presents victims. The most obvious is Aidoo, a key piece of the defense in recent seasons, who has disappeared from the scene upon arrival at Starfelt. The Ghanaian, despite his great past performance, has gone in the blink of an eye from first to fourth central defender in the coach’s order of preferences.
The injury suffered on the eve of the visit to Anoeta and the subsequent change of drawing They have unexpectedly taken Carles Pérez out of the equation, an influential footballer in the final stretch of last season, of whom this year, after Celta acquired him as property, greater participation was expected. Recently recovered from his injury, the Vallesan is still waiting, but his starting role seems difficult unless Benítez returns to the initial plan of playing with four defenders, four midfielders and two forwards.
Although he was not a starter last year, another of the players whose participation has significantly decreased is Renato Tapia, although it is not easy to discern whether the Peruvian international’s lack of prominence is due strictly to a technical issue or to the fact of refusing to be sold in the last market and not renewing his contract in order to be free next June.