Celta Vigo achieved its first victory of the season in La Liga (after previously being tied in the first round against Eibar without goals) when it beat Valencia by two goals scored by Iago Aspas to a goal scored by Maxi Gómez for Valencia at the Baladíos stadium in Vigo.

Celta Vigo relied on direct play and penetration from the deep through striker Aspas, with Nolito on the left side. Meanwhile, Valencia coach Javi Gracia relied on forming fronts and floating crosses towards Gómez, and exploiting Lee Kang-In’s moves.

In this tactical analysis, we will try to present the ideas of both coaches during the match.


Óscar García Celta Vigo coach decided to change the tactics from the first game to play a 4-4-2 instead of a 4-3-3, as Néstor Araújo entered at the centre of defence, while Fran Beltrán also joined instead of Turkish Okay Yokuslu.

On the other hand, Javi Gracia, the manager of the Valencia team, did not change much except for the entry of Mukhtar Diakhaby instead of Eliaquim Mangala into the heart of the defence while maintaining a 4-4-2.

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Celta Vigo attacking tactics 

The Celta Vigo coach relied on his attacking ideas for a big and clear breakthrough as Manuel Nolito entered from the left side and to move behind Aspas.

Then there were the movements of the Turkish youth Emre Mor, in a continuous vertical fashion, as he moved behind the defensive midfielders of Valencia.

We will try to understand how coach Óscar García was playing in the final third of the field, relying on both sides and then combining play and entering deep into the field to exploit the spaces between the Valencia defenders after the defensive positioning was wide.

 la-liga-2020-21-Celta Vigo Vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tacticsHere we see the ball with the young Turkish Emre Mor in the centre of the field, who moves freely in-depth, as well as the horizontal movement on both wings from Nolito and Denis Suarez to the depth and leave the vertical space to advance the full-back in an attempt to expand the field.

Positioning Suárez near striker Iago Aspas allowed him to fill the gap in the space vertically with the ball carrier, creating players versus players situations.

Coach Oscar Garcia preferred possession of the ball for most of the match by focusing the game on the logic of the depth of the field while dispersing the opponent by opening the width to expand the pitch.

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Here the team is taking advantage of Nolito’s speed to move the space on the right side of Valencia, a situation that shows the rate of Celta in the transformation of the attack, as it is in the position three against three.

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Once again, Nolito enters the depth of the field from the left side and is behind the outspoken striker Aspas. Thus, a vertical pass that breaks the lines of Valencia is possible, as the defending team faces problems when the attacking team opens the field to the sides.

Celta Vigo tried to possess the ball and spin it distinctively vertically and horizontally, and then play the breaking balls directly. But a team that was good at closing the distances between the players faced well, with individual lapses of the players deep in the midfield as well as applying pressure from the Valencia players.

Valencia applies pressure

Valencia applied the pressure during the meeting with a 4-4-2 and in tight lines, the way Javi Gracia preferred.

Gracia applies a system that includes a combination of area pressure and man-to-man pressure, which enables it to cover a specific area on the field, meaning that it does not prefer a player-to-player style only, in anticipation of the skills of individual opponents’ players.

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We notice here that the ball is with Celta Vigo on the left side. Valencia performs a “tilt and relay” process on the right, with a slight advance by right-back Daniel Wass to pressure the left-winger Nolito and prevent him from receiving the header pass from the left-back.

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Here the coach provided the pressure line to start in the defensive third of Celta Vigo to prevent them from building play with individual pressure, player against player, in a narrow space and next to the seam to become another defender with Valencia.

Valencia made the lines more close after the mistakes of the first half, the team tried to return and position themselves and close the depth and space between defence and midfield.

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Here, Valencia returned for the first third and played in defending the area with pressure on the ball carrier, and covering solutions in front of the ball carrier for not passing and cutting the ball.

Valencia faced these matters by running away on the sides when possessing the ball where the fronts were formed.

Valencia escapes on flanks.

Valencia, upon possession of the ball, tried to go the ball to the sides, taking advantage of the idea of ​​the fronts, where two shows were formed, the right-hand Daniel Fez and the English youth Yunus Musah, and the left Gaya and Gonçalo Guedes.

They had instructions to release the duo of right and left-backs to the depth of the field with the sides leaving the wings, as it differs from the ideas of Celta Vigo, in which the winger enters in and leaves the line to the back.

 la-liga-2020-21-Celta Vigo Vs Valencia-tactical-analysis-tactics

Here the ball is in possession of Guedes on the left side, with young Korean Kang Lee moving in the space behind Celta’s right-back, with left-back Jose Gaya in the position of the second striker to use the space between Celta Vigo defenders.

Moving Gómez outside the Celta penalty area in the build-up phase of play is an essential solution as it is an important station for building play, specifically by playing directly from the backline, or crosses.

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Here we notice Gómez receiving the ball in the third middle area while leaving the space in the Celta Vigo defence line, with which the duo Kang Lee or Goncalo Guedes can move.

Crosses were the main weapon for Valencia, either by Wass on the right or Gaya on the left.

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Here we note the goal that Gómez scored after a cross from Wass, and what is clear here is Gómez’s move to space where the ball was played on the near post, to precede the defender’s movements, noting the direction of his body in circulation in an area close to the defender in a distinctive way that contributed to the goal. 

Celta Vigo specifically defended without the ball by blocking the passes of the ball and preventing the Valencia players from being free.

Celta Vigo without the ball

Valencia tried to take advantage of the periods in which they had possession of the ball but faced a team that stood correctly in the defensive situation, where the lines were close. The choice of the middle third in the middle of the field was the starting point of pressure on the Valencia players.

They had to put significant pressure on Geoffrey Kondogbia and Vincent Escudero, the focal players, to make it challenging to get the ball out.

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Here we notice that the ball in possession of Kondogbia is under pressure from the striker Aspas to prevent him from getting out with the ball, with the presence of a Celta Vigo player pressing every player from Valencia in various places of the field, to reduce the vertical solutions and force him to return to the back towards his guard.

Celta Vigo’s coach decided to introduce the ball disposal area to become the first third in the last periods of the match, and tried to make the build-up process difficult for the Valencia team and force them to play the long ball.

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Here, when building the attack for Valencia from the team’s penalty area, we see the position of Celta Vigo players defensively, specifically Aspas, who defends in front of two players, as he stands on the same line with Kondogbia to prevent the header pass, with the awareness of the presence of the right-back on his left, which forced the Valencia player to play long ball and lose possession.

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Once again, the situation of the numerical superiority of Celta Vigo players appears in pressure, as the right-back of Valencia is in the position of a player against two Celta players, which forces him to play the longitudinal ball, taking into account the presence of a Celta Vigo player who presses each player is a pass solution for the holder the ball.

One of the stars of the meeting, who appeared in most of the high profile shots, was Aspas, the brilliant scorer as usual.

Aspas’ Legacy 

Aspas plays well both on the offensive and defensive side, as he represents the most critical element of experience in Celta Vigo.

On the offensive side, even though he scored the two goals of his team during the match, he still had an expected goal (xG) percentage of 42.0, which is a significant percentage.

Here we will try to explain his thoughts on moving in space within the opposing team’s defence.

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Here we notice its presence in the semi-spaces between Diakhaby and Gayá, where it becomes a solution to the vertical pass for Suarez.

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Due to his move, he was able to provide a key pass to his colleague, who was well positioned on the borders of the Valencia penalty area.

Besides all this, he also won duels with opponent players by up to 45%, which is a great success.


With this victory, Celta Vigo are in fourth place with four points from two rounds, with Real Madrid and Barcelona not playing any matches, while Valencia are in fifth place with a score of three points.

In this analysis, we tried to monitor the coaches’ ideas during the match from the acquisition and transformation of some of Valencia’s defensive problems.