The truth is this semifinal draw would have generated exciting match-ups no matter how the pairings went. Seeing us drawn with Celta made sense: Barca was the best team, Valencia the most struggling, and that left the other two middle seeds to fight it out. It also provided an opportunity to gauge the two clubs’ respective trends in La Liga. In Celta’s case a less than sparkling run has continued (1-3-1 in their last 5) with Sevilla moving past them in the table recently (3-0-2 last 5).
None of these trends portended anything like the 4-0 win at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán last week, but missing Nolito has made Celta look unlike their former league-beating selves. As a reminder of their capabilities then, we can look to September when they beat us at home–the last La Liga team to do so. On the other hand, Sevilla crushed Betis 4-0 at home in the first leg two rounds ago and hasn’t allowed a goal in the entire tournament. So, you know, TRENDS.
I’m definitely taking this match for granted. I assume we’ll see something other than our strongest 11, which might mean we see some Juan Muñoz up top. It will be interesting to see how the game develops and definitely key to avoid a goal against in the first 20′ (avoiding one at all would be sweet), but I fully expect us to weather whatever pressure Celta can mount and hit on the counter with pace. Of course, it’s to our advantage and style of play that we are able to sit back and take the match as it comes tomorrow. I don’t think we’ve always been proud of that as a team structure, but it will find its precise use in this second leg.
There are a couple wrinkles in the squad list since Rami, Kolo, and N’Zonzi are all one yellow away from missing the final. That means that we are likely to see a CB pairing of Carriço and Fazio and possibly find Cristóforo reasserting himself in the DM role. It will be a fun time and we will move on to our 8th final in 10 years at the end of the day. Yay!
OK YAY!! VAMOOSSSS!!!