Evening all! Week nine’s penultimate La Liga fixture comes from Vigo as Celta Vigo
welcome Levante. The home side made an encouraging start to the season, but they have struggled in recent weeks, with six points from eight matches leaving them in 19th spot. Levante, meanwhile, currently occupy 12th position with 10 points to their name.
In terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, each has won one of the last five, with the other three ending in draws. As mentioned, the corresponding match last season ended in a 1-1 draw, but Celta were 1-0 winners when they travelled to Levante in April. Recent games indicate that there will not be too many goals this evening.
It was always going to be a tough season for Celta after losing key personnel in the summer, including top scorer from last season Iago Aspas. They did manage to add in the transfer window, but it is expected that they will be in and around the bottom three for much of the season. This is the type of match that they simply have to win.
Form on their home patch has been a struggle this season, however, with no wins from their four games in Vigo. That said, they have lost just once with the further three ending in draws. On the road, they have won one and lost three. Goals have also been a problem with just eight strikes in their eight games thus far.
CELTA VIGO: Yoel; Mallo, Costas, Fontas, Toni; Rafinha, Oubina, Mina, Krohn-Dehli; Nolito, Charles
LEVANTE: Navas; Navarro, Juanfran, Lopez, Rodas; Diop, Simao, Xumetra; Garcia, Ivanschitz, Diawara
So there we have it. Celta boss Luis Enrique has selected an attacking lineup this evening with Rafinha, Michael Krohn-Dehli, Nolito and Charles all named in the starting XI. There are also starts for Toni and Borja Oubina. Levante, meanwhile, continue with Baba Diawara in attack. Simao Junior also comes into the midfield alongside the highly-rated Pape Diop
Levante have found some form in recent weeks with just one defeat from their last five matches. That said, they have won just once during that period. They came close to picking up all three points against Real Madrid last time out, only to concede a leveller in stoppage time, before Cristiano Ronaldo won it for the away side in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
Their season started in the worst possible fashion when they were thumped by Barcelona at the Camp Nou, but they have shown character to respond in recent weeks. They are yet to win on their own patch this season with three draws and one defeat, but they have won two of their four games on the road, which will stand them in good stead this evening.
Keeping clean sheets has not been a problem for Levante this season with three thus far – the same number as Atletico Madrid and one more than Barcelona, but they have conceded 14 times – although seven of those came against Barcelona. Goals have been a problem, however, with just eight goals in eight matches, the same number as Celta.
PREDICTION: If Celta are to survive in La Liga this season, these are the type of matches that they need to win. However, Levante will not be in a charitable mood this evening and they enter the match in good form. A case can be made for all three available results, but I am backing Levante to pick up a narrow win in Vigo.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of kickoff. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. Not a full house inside the stadium this evening, but there is a strong atmosphere. The home side get the action underway in Vigo.
It must be said that the rain is absolutely pouring down in Vigo this evening. It remains to be seen which team comes to terms with the conditions. Not too much to report in the opening couple of moments with both sides feeling their way into the match. You just get the feeling that the first goal - if we indeed have one - could be vital this evening.
David Costas attempts to force the issue for the home side as he slides a low pass behind the Levante defence, but Navas is out to clear at the vital moment. The away side have possession down the other end moments later as Diawara is felled by Fontas, but the attack comes to nothing. Not too much to report in the opening four minutes of action in Vigo.
It's good work from Celta as Krohn-Dehli finds some space down the right before feeding Rafinha, but the Brazilian's through pass is cleared by Pedro Lopez. Levante break down the other end with Xumetra, but his pass asks too much from Diop. The referee has a task on his hands this evening to deal with the challenges on this wet and muddy pitch.
Good pressure from Levante in the last couple of moments with the likes of Ruben Garcia and Ivanschitz combining in the final third, but it breaks down at the vital moment. Both sides are finding it hard to keep hold of the ball at the moment. A low cross from Mina comes close to finding Nolito in the Levante box, but the Brazilian could not make contact.
Just a few signs that Celta are starting to warm to the task here, but a promising attack is cut short by the offside flag. Not too much for the away supporters to get excited about, however, with Diawara an isolated figure thus far. The conditions are making it hard for both teams to get the ball down and play there is no question about that.
Diawara has been the battering ram for Levante thus far as he wins another free kick in the final third. The resulting set piece is whipped into the box by Garcia, it falls to David Navarro, but his low effort is kept out by Yoel. Celta are down the other end with Mina, but he cannot keep hold of the ball under pressure from Juanfran.
CHANCE! It's really bright work from the home side as Nolito cuts inside before finding Krohn-Dehli on the edge of the box, but his low effort is straight at Navas. Anything off the surface is going to be difficult for each goalkeeper this evening. Plenty of early indications that we will have goals in Vigo.
Another half-chance for the home side as Krohn-Dehli whips a dangerous cross into the box, but Nolito cannot make contact. Levante attempt to force the issue with Diop moments later, but he cannot find the run of Diawara. Celta are in control of the possession with 18 minutes on the clock, but the score remains level.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Celta to take the lead as Mina finds himself unmarked inside the Levante box, but Navas is out to make a fine save at the vital moment. The striker took a tough when he should have hit his effort first time.
Levante are short of ideas at the moment as Lopez drives down the right, but he has no options in the box, with his cross collected by Yoel. Celta continue to look the most likely as they pass and probe outside the Levante box, but there is no way through at the moment. One-way traffic in this La Liga clash.
Another half-chance for the home side as Nolito finds some space inside the Levante box, but the offside flag is raised at the vital moment. The away side just cannot get out of their own half at the moment with each long pass towards Diawara coming straight back. Still goalless with 22 minutes on the clock.
CHANCE! Another wonderful chance for the home side as Rafinha finds Nolito inside the box, the Brazilian cuts inside before curling an effort towards the bottom corner, but it just moves wide of the post. Celta could be two or three ahead here. They are in total control, with Levante really struggling for ideas.
CHANCE! The chances continue to arrive for the home side as Krohn-Dehli drops his shoulder outside the box before striking a powerful effort towards the bottom corner, but it just moves wide of the post. Levante attempt to break down the other end with Lopez, but his effort is straight at Yoel.
Diawara continues to struggle in the final third as he loses possession each time he is presented with the ball. In fairness, he has had no support. Celta continue to dominate the possession in and around the Levante box, but they cannot find that telling touch. Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining in Vigo.
Another half-chance for Levante as Xumetra finds some space in the final third, but his effort is straight into the arms of Yoel. Celta are down the other end with Mallo moments later, but once more the attack breaks down as Rafinha's cross is straight into the arms of Navas. Still goalless with 32 minutes on the clock.
Half-chance for the home side as Nolito's corner causes concern inside the Levante box. It falls to Toni, but his effort is wide of the post. The away side attempt to play their way out of defence, but once more they lose possession. Celta should be out of sight in this first period there is no question about that.
End-to-end football in the last couple of moments as Levante come close with an effort from Ruben Garcia, but Fontas is on hand to make the block. Celta are down the other end moments later, but they are finding it difficult to break through this stern Levante defence. Mina wants a penalty moments later following a challenge with Juanfran, but the referee is not interested.
The home side continue to launch high balls into the box, but Navas has been impressive in the air thus far with the goalkeeper on hand to claim at every opportunity. A free kick arrives for Celta moments later as Rafinha is felled outside the box by Rodas, but the resulting free kick from Nolito is high and wide of the crossbar.
CHANCE! Another chance for the home side as Toni strikes a powerful effort from outside the box, but Navas pushed it to safety. The pressure remains down the right, but Juanfran is across to clear. How on earth are Celta not ahead in this match?
Levante just need to be careful here as the away side continue to fly into challenges. The referee has been sensitive to the conditions thus far, but the intensity is rising. Celta have had 70% of the possession with 43 minutes on the clock, but the only statistic that matters sees the score level at 0-0.
Celta continue to whip high balls into the box, but Navas is on hand to claim under pressure from Charles. Both managers are parading the touchline at the moment, with neither too happy with what they have seen thus far. The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional one minute at the end of the first period as Krohn-Dehli hits the deck with an injury.
HALF TIME: Celta 0-0 Levante
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with the two sides level at 0-0. Levante entered the match in the better form, but that has not been the pattern this evening. Celta have utterly dominated the opening 45 minutes, but have thus far been unable to open the scoring.
STATISTICS: Celta have had 75% of the possession in the first period, while they have had six attempt to Levante's three. The best chances of the match have come to the home side, but Navas has been in good form thus far. You just get the feeling that the first goal - if we indeed have one - could be vital in this type of match.
BENCH WATCH: The home side have a number of attacking options on their bench in the shape of Orellana, Alex Lopez and Madinda. Meanwhile, Levante have the likes of David Barral, Nabil El Zhar and Sergio Pinto in reserve. It is a match that could ultimately be decided from the bench.
We had been due to get the second period underway, but there appears to have been a power cut inside the stadium. There has been no word from either club thus far, but we shall wait and see what unfolds.
The groundsman is currently on the pitch re-laying the lines that faded in the first period because of the weather. The rain has stopped, but at the moment the lights are still off. Not that the home supporters mind, however, as they do the famous Mexican wave.
There is some movement! Some of the lights appear to be rejoining us. However, darkness continues inside the stadium. You would not have noticed, however, with the supporters in fine voice. Hopefully we will be able to rejoin the second period in the next five minutes or so. The rain has stopped.
What was I saying? The rain had stopped? That is not the case as the heavens open once more. The groundsman continues to re-lay the lines on the pitch, hopefully ready for the second period. Both sets of players are still in the dressing rooms. This is the last thing that Celta would have wanted after their impressive performance in the first period.
Still unclear as to what is happening in this match, but some reports have suggested that the match has been postponed. This is unconfirmed at the moment, but I will do my best to bring you up-to-date when it becomes clear.
MATCH RESUMES! Apologies for the delay in action. The cameras were all cut when the power went inside the stadium. However, we are now back with the action in the second period. It is 56 minutes on the clock and the score is still 0-0.
Good pressure from Celta in the last couple of moments as they continue to force the issue with a series of crosses into the box, but Levante manage to clear the danger once more. The away side attempt to break with El Zhar, but the ball does not run across the surface. Little over 30 minutes of football remaining in Vigo.
Change for Levante as Vyntra enters the field in place of Ivanschitz. Very defensive change from the away side there is no question about that. Not too much for the away supporters to get excited about in the last couple of moments as Celta continue to control possession of the ball. However, it remains goalless in Vigo.
While the power was cut, the home side made a change with Alex Lopez replacing Krohn-Dehli, who struggled in the latter stages of the first period. El Zhar, meanwhile, replaced Garcia for the away side. Right, we are now up to speed. Celta have another half-chance as Mina strikes one from outside the box, but Navas is on hand to collect.
Scrappy match in the middle of the park as Lopez fells Rafinha just outside the box. The resulting set piece is taken by Lopez, but his effort is just wide of the post. It might have taken a slight deflection of one of his teammates in the wall. Still Celta cannot make the pressure count with 65 minutes on the clock.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the home side once more as Mina collects a pass from Nolito before attempting to find the top corner, but the teenager's effort is high and wide of the crossbar. Wouldn't it be just like football if Levante went down the other end and nicked this entirely against the run of play.
CHANCE! Another wonderful chance for the home side to take the lead as Nolito finds Charles inside the box, but he can only curl his effort wide of the post. How many opportunities do they need? Levante are not interested in attacking at the moment as they continue to flood the midfield.
Levante attempt to force the issue as Diawara spots the run of El Zhar, but the former Liverpool midfielder is found to have fouled Costas. Another change for the home side moments later as Orellana replaces Nolito, who has just faded in the second period. Still the best part of 20 minutes for someone to make themselves a hero here.
Levante make their second change of the match as David Barral replaces Diawara. The pitch continues to harm the tempo of the match with the ball sticking in the middle of the park. However, you just get the feeling that there is a goal in this match. Gaps will start to appear as the home side continue to force the issue.
Pedro Lopez has moved into a forward area for the away side, allowing Vyntra to return to defence. Lopez is involved in an attacking area moments later as he drives past two defenders before delivering a low cross into the box, but Yoel is on hand to collect. Not too much from Celta in the last couple of moments.
The rain continues to fall over the stadium, which is not helping the pitch. Celta have found another gear in the last minute or two with Rafinha involved in a forward area, but his cross is headed clear by Rodas. Xumetra, meanwhile, continues to argue with the referee after he twice hits the deck without a decision. Little over 10 minutes of football remaining in Vigo.
A long throw from Toni threatens to cause problems in the Levante box, but Navas is out to claim at the vital moment. It's good work from Lopez moments later as he wins a free kick just outside the box following a challenge from Xumetra. However, the resulting set piece from Rafinha is straight into the wall.
Navarro takes one in the face moments later following a powerful free kick from Orellana, but he does return to action following a period of treatment. The away side continue to struggle to get the ball as Celta force the issue. The home side want a penalty moments later as Rafinha falls inside the box, but the referee is not interested.
Half-chance for Levante as Barral collects possession inside the Celta box, but he just loses control at the vital moment. The danger remains, but the referee awards Celta a free kick following a handball from Xumetra, who has had a frustrating evening. Little over five minutes of football remaining in Vigo.
CHANCE! Another chance comes and goes for the home side as Orellana dances into the box before attempting to curl one into the bottom corner, but it just moves wide of the post. Levante live to fight another day. Can they nick it late on? I expect there will be a fair share of injury time.
Celta call for another penalty as Navarro appears to handle inside the box, but the referee is not interested. It's good work from Barral down the other end as the Levante midfielder is clipped by Orellana outside the box. Good chance for Levante here.
GOAL! Celta 0-1 Levante (Diop)
Levante take the lead in the final minute as Diop strikes a wonderful effort into the back of the net from outside the box. Stunning strike. Have Levante taken all the points here?
The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional four minutes of football and we are indeed into the second of those. Celta continue to fire the ball into the box, but the danger is cleared time and time again. Can they hold on?
A dangerous cross from Rafinha comes into the Levante box, but there are no takers. The danger continues with Toni as he finds Orellana inside the box, but the block is made by Vyntra. Little over one minute of time remaining as El Zhar clears the danger.
FULL TIME: Celta 0-1 Levante
Oh my word. The final whistle goes and somehow Levante claim all the points with a late strike from Diop. Celta had all the ball, but simply could not make it count. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to join us tomorrow for Champions League football. Until then!