Monday night’s football was expected to showcase a number of goals and fans were not disappointed on that front. Celta Vigo and Real Betis shared five goals in a game where Betis started and finished strongest, but saw the home side dominate the remainder. Celta Vigo’s organisation in midfield was particularly pleasing with Pione Sisto playing as a wide midfielder. Iago Aspas was man of the match and grabbed two goals to bring him up to 14 goals in La Liga.
The opening period saw Betis display their quality in possession in particular. Even under pressure from the home side, they were able to keep the ball moving. Contract-renewing Fabian Ruiz dictated the ball switching play to his full backs, re-starting attacks with his goalkeeper and trying to find a way through midfield; all while keeping the ball on the ground with great composure.
That lasted under the 12th minute when Javi Garcia received a simple ‘out ball’ from goalkeeper Antonio Adan. Garcia – instead of passing right away – tried to turn. In doing so, Iago Aspas stole the ball, raced through on goal and slotted the ball calmly passed Adan into the left hand bottom corner. Celta Vigo 1-0 Real Betis
Until conceding that goal, Real Betis maintained 70% of the ball – an incredible stat for an away team. The ten minutes that followed Aspas’ goal saw Celta gain more control of the ball and offer a bigger threat. The overall possession ratio even moved from 70:30 to 40:60 during that period.
Celta lined up with one of their front three Pione Sisto playing as a left midfielder rather than a winger. This was to presumably counter Betis’ threat out wide, where they allow their full backs to push forward. This forced Betis to continually move infield and nullified Jaoquin’s influence at times. Not only this, but it also forced Betis to restart attacks with their goalkeeper on several occasions where they could not find an avenue through the middle.
Last week, Javi Garcia was acting as a third centre back in all defensive situations. This idea was disbanded against Celta on Monday, where he returned to his regular number six role. Instead of sitting in, Garcia stepped out to close down an attacking player. This left extra space behind and with the pace of Aspas, Maxi Gomez and Sisto, it was a dangerous tactic by Quique Setien.
Christian Tello put the ball in the back of Ruben Blanco’s net but was judged – correctly – to be offside. It gave the Celta defence a cause for concern and showed how effective the Andalucian’s can be on the break. As the first half wore on however, Celta really gained control and kept a lot of possession in Betis’ third.
Shortly after the break, Maxi Gomez came close to scoring on three separate occasions and also had an appeal for a penalty. One from a header from a corner where he beat Riza Durmisi at the near post but saw his header go wide of the post. The second chance came from a nice bit of inter play between Nemanja Radoja and Sisto. The ball was fed to the Uruguayan inside the box, but his shot was saved by Adan. Just two minutes later, he saw another shot saved by Adan from eight yards. There were also claims for a penalty by Maxi Gomez when his jersey was pulled as he went to header a corner.
The Uruguayan eventually got his goal another three minutes later. Following great wing play form Jonny, he clipped a ball into the centre for Gomez to attack the ball and header with power into the back of the net. This time Adan was helpless to stop the striker. Real Betis’ defending in that situation was so poor that Iago Aspas could as easily have headed the ball into the net. Celta Vigo 2-0 Real Betis
Radoja hit the back of the net in the 66th minute but was again correctly judged offside. It was at the end of some great play by Celta which saw Mr. Consistency, Jonny slip a through ball into Radoja. The centre midfielder chipped the ball passed Adan but was ruled offside.
Sergio Leon pulled one back for Real Betis following a rare extended period of possession by the visitors in the second half. The ball was played from one wing to the other comfortably by Betis. When it reached Antonio Barragan on the right, the defender put a deep first time cross into the box. Ruben Blanco could only palm it to the far end of his box where Durmisi flashed it across to Sergio Leon. The Spaniard side footed his seventh goal of La Liga into an open goal. Celta Vigo 2-1 Real Betis
When it looked like Real Betis were in with a chance of grabbing a second goal, Celta scored a third. Andres Guardado saw the ball taken from him in midfield and Celta were devastating on the break. Once the ball came to Maxi Gomez on the left hand side, it looked like he would go for goal himself. Instead, he played a perfectly weighted ball square to the on-rushing Iago Aspas to grab his second of the night as he delicately chipped the ball over Adan. Celta Vigo 3-1 Real Betis
Celta could easily have scored another in the 89th minute with Jozabed just before Real Betis won a penalty from the resulting break away. A long ball up field by Zou Feddal saw Joaquin race through on goal where he was fouled by Facundo Roncaglia. Guardado stepped up to emphatically put away the penalty. Celta Vigo 3-2 Real Betis
For Celta Vigo, this was a very impressive performance. Bar the opening 15 minutes, they were easily the best team on the pitch. Even though they’ve not had the best defence this season, Unzue showed his coaching nous by setting up a very well organised side against Betis. The positioning of Sisto as an extra midfielder worked fantastically well. Radoja had a great game at the centre of the park where he made five interceptions and managed a passing accuracy of 88.1%. Iago Aspas was the man of the match however. As well as scoring a brace, his link up play and hard work was very important to Celta. Up next for seventh placed Celta Vigo is an away trip to struggling Alaves.
Real Betis should look back at their performance against Barcelona again to see the blueprint they should use for the remainder of the season. Javi Garcia’s performance in both games exemplified Real Betis in both games also. Against Barcelona, he dropped in as a third centre back and was a leader for Betis on the night by playing in a well transitioning attack to defence set up. Against Celta, he was at fault for the first goal and did very little other than keep the ball in his own defensive third. It’s not often a player is deemed to have a very bad game when they have a 92.5% passing accuracy but Garcia had a game to forget in Vigo. Up next for 13th placed Real Betis is Villarreal at the Benito Villamarin.