Celta Vigo enjoyed a very successful season under the watchful eye of now Barcelona manager Luis Enrique finishing in the top half of the season. The Balaidos hosted one of the most entertaining teams in the primera division, whose brand of football typified the attacking philosophy instilled in the club by Lucho.
Lucho’s departure to his former club Barcelona was much anticipated and in a bid to keep alive their proactive philosophy, the Spanish club appointed the obsessive Berizzo as his replacement.
Born in Cruz Alta, Argentina, Eduardo Berizzo begun his football career at Newells Old Boys and played for a host of teams including Celta Vigo. Berizzo was given his playing and coaching inauguration by a certain someone who is widely seen as one of the best trainers in modern football, Marcelo Bielsa, who has had a great impact on his career.
Like the many disciples of Bielsa, Berizzo’s philosophy of the game revolves around intensity. He has often played the 433 formation with the 442 and 4231 being used sporadically.
Key elements in Celta Vigo play
“Both(Luis Enrique and Berizzo) want their teams to play more or less the same way. Berizzo suits Celta Vigo because this team doesn’t know how to play a long-ball game. Also, when we lose possession, he likes us to press the ball. They’re both very similar managers in that respect.” – Celta Vigo striker Charles
“Our work has been a little bit tougher this time. Berizzo is more demanding.”
- Varying speed in the construction phase. Slow and calculated passing in the middle and defensive third, followed by quick one touch passing and movement in the opposition third.
- Mid-high defensive block, offside trap
- High intensity pressing as high as the opposition area to disrupt their rhythm.
Celta Vigo like to build play from the back. Their goalkeeper often plays short kicks to the defenders who with well constructed passes move the ball from their half into the midfield area. They vary their build up with their defenders taking up different roles in build up. In build up, the holding midfield may drop deep to a line just ahead of the centerbacks which allows the fullbacks to go high and gives Celta a 3v2 situation when playing against two forwards.
Celta may also build from the back with one centerback splitting wide, the other in the central role while one of the fullbacks drops deep to offer an alternative on the other side.
When the opposition presses with one forward, Celta build play through their two centerbacks as it gives them a 2v1 advantage.The players space themselves out in midfield and always provide passing angles to the possessor of the ball. Through the creation of overloads, Celta Vigo often have numerical superiority and are able to circulate the ball in tight areas.Celta Vigo average 58% possession this season. This impressive stat gives an in indication to how well they move the ball, but one hidden detail behind this statistic is the impressive work the sky blues do without the ball.
“Our simple ethos is this: we try and win the ball back as quickly as possible from our opponents as far up the field as we can. And by that I mean everyone is involved in regaining the ball, from the forwards through to anyone else”
“Then once we have the ball, we try and find a way of getting forward as quickly as possible, in a vertical direction if you like. But we don’t get frustrated if we can’t get it forward immediately, we aim to be comfortable on the ball, and if it’s not a case of going forward straight away, we keep it.” – Berizzo’s mentor Marcelo Bielsa explained his system at Athletic Club.
The Celta Vigo trainer shares the same philosophy. As you would expect from a student of Marcelo Bielsa, Berizzo’s defensive transitions take place as soon as the ball is lost.
“If you see our training, you’ll see that in there it’s very demanding and very intense. Last year, we had the intensity of trying to retrieve the ball quickly, but I think we do it with more aggression now under Berizzo.” – Cabral
Celta are very aggressive in their pressing and initiate the pressure as early as when the opposition keeper has the ball. They press with intensity with the motive behind the high press being disruption opposition rhythm as well as exploiting any space that will be open from their disorganization after regaining possession.Here, Pepe plays a backpass to Casillas and Celta Vigo push up immediately to close down spaces and prevent the goalkeeper from playing short to any of his players. The result? Casillas is forced to go long giving Berizzo’s men a higher probability of regaining possession through aerials and knockdowns.
Larrivey, a very good presser of the ball puts pressure on the opposition player who is again forced to go long because of the pressure. Celta Vigo win the first ball and via a quick transition into attack are able to score from this sequence.
Celta Vigo press in a medium-high block which allows them to make the pitch compact for opposition, restricting their space and time in possession of the ball. They close down the possessor, in this situation – Neymar, with great intensity and restrict his options by quickly man-marking all possible passing options.
Celta Vigo’s pressing system is very fluid and doesn’t follow a particular structure. If the initial pressing wave is breached, rather than retreating to their positions, the Celta vigo players quickly swarm the player in possession. Celta Vigo have numerical superiority on the ball side, but a change in offensive side by the opposition (Villarreal) will see them exposed.
Celta Vigo had a great start to the season, with their defeat of Barcelona at the Camp Nou and away draw at the Vicente Calderon already grabbing the headlines. However in recent weeks Berizzo’s army have struggled to secure points with some people already blaming fatigue for their slump. Fans of Celta Vigo can however be pleased with their performances this season.