Vigo/Bilbao, Jan 28 (EFE) his pass to the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.
Celta, who have not won in Balaídos since October 2, urgently need a win to catch air in the standings, since the improvement in the game has not been accompanied by positive results.
As if that were not enough, the dramatic qualifying situation of the team in the year of its Centenary is added to the institutional crisis that the club is experiencing due to the “Denis Suárez case”, which the president and largest shareholder Carlos Mouriño prevents from being aligned from the start of the course.
With one of the two highest chips in the squad, the continuity in the team of the former Barcelona midfielder is nonsense, since that is preventing the arrival of the reinforcements that coach Carlos Carvalhal has demanded.
This situation has provoked the anger of a sector of Celticism, which in the last meetings in Balaídos has already dedicated a song to the celestial president, who tomorrow will return to focus attention, especially if his team is unable to carry out the game.
The Portuguese coach, however, prefers to isolate himself from the surrounding noise, aware of the delicate situation of his team, victim of a worrying scoring drought that will once again lead to a revolution in his eleven.
Carvalhal meditates sitting two “untouchables” so far, captain Hugo Mallo and midfielder Fran Beltrán. Both are far from their best level. Another of those who can fall out of the eleven with respect to the Mallorca lineup is the Norwegian striker Jorgen Strand Larsen, who continues to fight with the goal.
The light blue coach will give continuity to the American Luca de la Torre, who has gone from not counting for Coudet to offering a great performance in the attack line, where Carles Pérez would also enter.
In midfield, to counter Athletic’s physical play, Carvalhal’s bet would be the Peruvian international Renato Tapia.
Athletic Club, revived for its fight for Europe with the victory at Mestalla that qualified it for the Copa del Rey semifinals, threatens a depressed Celta, on relegation points and aware that saving the category is already their main objective for this season.
Ernesto Valverde’s team was not in its best mood just three days ago either, since two points out of twelve possible in the league championship and the visit to Mestalla to decide the cup quarterfinals at home was not the scenario that a team expected who spent the break for the World Cup in Qatar in Champions League positions.
In addition, he once again suffered from a certain lack of goal and had lost without much objection in two of the appointments that he has marked each season on the calendar: the visit to the Reale Arena, where an extra-motivated Real Sociedad always awaits him, and that of Real Madrid to San Mamés, the match of the year along with Barça’s, also at La Catedral.
To that bad moment was added a debate of those that can leave sequels. The loss of presence in the eleven of Iker Muniain, without a doubt the key player in the creation of play also this season. In which, just turned 30, he has risen to the podium of players with the most matches in the club’s history.
Well then. Muniain played at Mestalla, scored a goal and helped his team clearly beat Valencia. Along with the Navarrese Ander Herrera also came out, with which the feeling that Valverde had abandoned his taste for the so-called ‘rock and roll’ of the beginning of the course – joining Muniain with Oihan Sancet in midfield – was somewhat questionable.
It must be confirmed in the immediate future, although at Abanca-Balaídos, due to the short rest after the clash against Valencia, less than three days, the coach will probably move the lineup and both Muniain and Herrera are candidates to start on the bench . Although, given their performance, more one of them than both.
If Herrera rested, Oier Zarraga would start; and if Muniain did it, Sancet, the regular starter, would take over.
Under the sticks the international Unai Simón will return, leaving the young Julen Agirrezabala in the Cup, and it is possible that Oscar de Marcos and/or Iñaki Williams will also rest from the start, with some physical problems in recent days.
In fact, De Marcos was a doubt for Mestalla due to shoulder problems, and the eldest of the Williams men ended the match with a handicap. If they were not from the game, they would be replaced by Iñigo Lekue, the winger, and Gorka Guruzeta, the striker.
The central defenders Daniel Vivian and Yeray Álvarez and Yuri Berchiche on the left side seem fixed. As well as Mikel Vesga as a pivot and Nico Williams and Alex Berenguer in the midfield bands. Although Vesga and Nico have already accumulated many minutes in a season of indisputable starters.
– Probable lineups:
Celtic: Marchesin; Mingueza, Aidoo, Unai Nunez, Javi Galan; Carles Perez, Wall, Gabri Veiga, Oscar Rodriguez; Luca of the Tower and Aspas.
Athletic: Unai Simon; Lekue, Vivian, Yeray, Yuri; Vesga, Zarraga; Nico Williams, Muniain, Berenguer; y Cross. EFE
Referee: Díaz de Mera (Castilla-La Mancha committee)