With as many doubts as in summer

Last Wednesday’s match in Villarreal appeared on Celta’s agenda as an excellent opportunity to improve a streak of four days without losing and leave the relegation places with their sights set on the middle of the table. The image offered by the celestial team in the first part of the La Cerámica duel, beyond representing another disappointing defeat, leaves more doubts than certainties regarding Rafa Benítez’s project, without a clear plan and carrying out experiments in the eleven as in the preseason.

In the summer, the Madrid coach became the big bet of the new president Marián Mouriño, who wanted to take office for the first time by hiring a coach from international prestige that could provide sporting stability in the year of the celebration of the first centenary of the entity.

Until a few weeks ago, the Celtics were failing in their results due to not knowing how to close out the games or due to controversial refereeing decisions, but the team was rewarded with widespread praise for their good play. In the attempt to adjust pieces, Benítez continued introducing variations in the lineups to the point of denaturalizing the game that had earned his team so much praise. In that transition, Celta enjoyed the first victory in Balaídos and three draws, but generating many doubts about the new football proposal, in which the work of containment and order weighs more than the impudence and showiness with the ball.

Between disappointment and hope

The result of this process of searching for the eleven that best adapts to Benítez’s demands was the disappointing first half against a Villarreal team that could have gone into half-time with a victory in their favor if it were not for Guaita’s interventions. “It is unacceptable how we came out in the first half, me first. They have beaten us in many actions, we did not come under pressure and they had a lot of superiority throughout the field,” Dotor commented.

The reaction of the Celtics in the second half to such confusion was not enough to turn the score around and Benítez’s team was forced to close the historic 2023 with another disappointment. Now enjoy the Christmas holidays with more doubts than certainties and with everything to do for the second round of the championship.

Benítez, against Benítez

Celta has lost the personality with which it stood up to, among others, Barça, Girona and Athletic Club, three of the first in the table. That seemed like the right path to consolidate Benítez’s project, but the Celta coach did not give up in his efforts to have the most consistent eleven, the one that would try to win by 1-0 and not by 4-3.

The change of pieces was a constant, as if we were in preseason, and players like Manu Sánchez, Beltrán, Carles Pérez, Mingueza and even Bamba disappeared from the eleven in the last few days. A good performance with a positive result did not guarantee the repetition of the eleven on the following day.

In Mestalla, Celta achieved the first clean sheet of the season, after thirteen days. That was one of Benítez’s objectives. His teams have grown from defensive consistency. On the next day, he also wanted to reinforce the midfield by bringing on Tapia. He lost fluidity in the game against Cádiz while the coach admitted the impossibility of bringing his three forwards together in attack: Aspas, Larsen and Douvikas. The starting eleven, meanwhile, continued to be renewed and a player like Mingueza not only lost place in the midfield but also on the side. From ownership to the bench, along with Manu Sánchez, Beltrán or Bamba. And Tapia, Cervi, Ristic, Kevin and Dotor burst onto the field.

The victory at home against Granada came after offering a soporific game, without elaboration and scoring chances. Celta was becoming a team without an identity, with players like Carles Pérez – one of the summer signings – going three days without playing.

Benítez also fails in the substitutions, as he has too many five substitutions or waits too long to count on Douvikas who has 5 goals (two in the Cup) and who showed quality against Villarreal to become an important piece of a team that He only won two games against the last placed teams after eighteen days, which leaves many doubts and uncertainty about Benítez’s sporting project.

Starfelt and Ristic, pending medical tests

Celta’s defeat in Villarreal also resulted in the injuries of Carl Starfelt and Mihailo Ristic, who were substituted at half-time in the match at the La Cerámica stadium. The club announced yesterday that the Swedish central defender suffers an injury to the inner hamstring of his right thigh, while the left back suffers from discomfort in his right femoral biceps. Both will undergo medical tests to find out the extent of these physical mishaps that prevented them from completing the last game of 2023. Starfelt returned to the starting lineup against Villarreal after missing the previous day’s match against Granada due to the flu. Recovered, the Swede returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday and during the first half he felt a puncture in his right leg. The defender remained on the field until half-time and was replaced by youth player Carlos Domínguez. Ristic did not start the second half at La Cerámica either. Benítez replaced the Balkan full-back with Manu Sánchez, who became one of Celta’s instigators to try to turn around a 3-0 deficit after referee Soto Grado invented a penalty by Kevin on Alberto Moreno in the first play after the restart. Starfelt and Ristic now have two weeks to try to recover because LaLiga stops until early January. Celta will host Betis on the 3rd, on the last day of the first round of the championship.

2023-12-22 05:10:29
#doubts #summer


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