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The Galician derby, Deportivo and Celta Vigo | El Centrocampista
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El Centrocampista

¡LA GUERRA DE GALICIA! – Depor and Celta lock horns

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By Olly Dawes

With the international break meaning no games in La Liga last weekend, the second division took centre stage and one game in particular stood out from the crowd.

Two of the biggest clubs in Liga Adelante locked horns on Sunday for one of the most eagerly anticipated derby games of the season.

Deportivo La Coruña and Celta Vigo have both enjoyed hugely successful stints in La Liga and European competition, but currently find themselves in the second tier of Spanish football through a combination of poor performances, heightened expectations and financial mismanagement.

Sunday’s meeting at The Riazor was the first between the two Galician giants since early 2007, the year Celta dropped out of the top division and into the segunda abyss.

Celta have generally been languishing in the midriff of the second tier. That was until they appointed former Villarreal B manager Paco Herrera, who led Los Celestes to the play offs, only to lose out to eventual winners Granada on penalties.

They managed to keep hold of wonderkid full back Hugo Mallo over the summer despite strong interest from Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, while they added experienced goalscorer Mario Bermejo from Xerez.

Depor lost stalwart defender Lopo to Getafe and striker Adrian to Atletico Madrid, but managed to keep hold of goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia and Mexican winger Andres Guardado, despite interest from a host of other clubs.

Talented Portuguese wingers Bruno Gama and Bruno Salomao have added a different dimension to the Deportivo line up under new coach Jose Luis Oltra.

So far this year, Celta again look like candidates for a top six finish under Herrera, making a strong start to the season, while Depor look capable of making an immediate return to the top flight.

It’s where the pair belong after years in the primera division, providing talent from across globe.

In the Celta corner, you had Russian stars Valery Karpin and Aleksandr Mostovoi teaming up with Everton Giovanella and Benni McCarthy, whilst Depor dazzled in the Champions League thanks to the likes of Roy Makaay, Diego Tristan, Fran and Djalminha, spurred on by the still playing Depor legend, Juan Carlos Valeron.

The golden era may have long passed for both sides, but the derby game on Sunday was a throwback to the days when the clubs were among Spain’s elite.

The Estadio Riazor encounter was declared a high risk event after Celta’s attacker Iago Aspas made some comments about an incident involving ex players Vagner and Diego Tristan, resulting in Depor fans chanting ‘Aspas die’ during the game.

Celta got off to the worst possible start as defender Jonathan Vila turned the ball into his own net, sending The Riazor into raptures.

Los Celestes thought they had stolen a point in the 83rd minute, as Granada loanee Fabian Orellana slotted past Aranzubia, but Depor’s Lassad Nouioui struck just a minute later to steal the points for Depor.

The result leaves Deportivo in fifth place while Celta plug still sit third, just two points off an automatic spot.

Post match scenes turned ugly as Celta fans were pelted with rocks as they boarded the coaches home, but it’s just another chapter in the seemingly endless drama surrounding these two bitter rivals.

There is still a long way to go in the season, but the hope is that these two Galician giants will bring their derby back into the top flight of Spanish football next year.

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