Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

Celta coach Berizzo inspired by his mentor's methods to defeat United

 

By Simon Peach

Celta Vigo approach their historic Europa League semi-final with Manchester United with unfettered conviction as coach Eduardo Berizzo looks to follow in the footsteps of mentor Marcelo Bielsa.

The Galician coastal city is bedecked in sky blue as the club prepares for the first major European semi-final in their success-starved history.

United, by contrast, have been crowned continental champions on three occasions, although, surprisingly, they have managed to win just twice on their previous 22 trips to Spain.

"We hope first of all that the statistics stay as they are, just two wins away from England," Celta coach Berizzo said.

"How do you beat Manchester United? By being faithful to who we are. I think this team has a very clear identity, they know who they are and they believe in this identity: a lot of pressure, a lot of possession, recovering the ball quickly to attack again. The only way to beat Manchester United is to be faithful to who we are, facing such a great team."

Berizzo's high-intensity approach is similar to that of his fellow Argentinian Bielsa, under whom he played at Newell's Old Boys before working as the older man's assistant with Chile.

Bielsa oversaw Athletic Bilbao's famous Europa League victory against United five years ago, and the Celta coach believes there are lessons to be learned from that quarter-final clash.

"I was a witness of Marcelo Bielsa's match with Athletic Bilbao against Manchester United and he found a tactical solution to that match and that might be a clue for us to follow," he said, referring to a tie Bilbao won 3-2 at Old Trafford and 2-1 on home turf.

"Manchester United know what they are doing: how to manage the times, the pace, the defence, the attack.

"We want to go to Manchester with a chance of winning, a result that gives us a chance of winning, and the only way of doing that, really, is being faithful to our own game."

Celta finished second in Group G to fellow semi-finalists Ajax - who banked a 4-1 victory in their own first leg clash with Lyon last night - then overcame Shakhtar Donetsk, Krasnodar and Genk to set up this semi-final with United.

Former Manchester City and Celtic striker John Guidetti and injured United academy graduate Giuseppe Rossi are recognisable names among the Vigo ranks, as is Liverpool misfit Iago Aspas.

The 29-year-old returned to Balaidos in 2015 having failed to make an impression at Anfield and has kick-started his career with his boyhood club, becoming a Spain international in the process.

"So more than my influence, I think Iago has matured a lot personally," Berizzo said.

"He has really assumed the leadership of the team, which is very important.

"I think playing on the right-hand side of the pitch really liberates him in his creative freedom and he is able to combine better with the central forwards."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph