Celta de Vigo: improving every year

Maybe for many the most unknown team of the four in group H: Celta de Vigo. Known at Ajax mainly as the club where Mido finished the past season on loan. But beware. Celta de Vigo is a team to be reckoned with in Europe, with three quarter final places in the UEFA Cup in the last five years. Ajax will face Celta de Vigo on 22 October in Amsterdam and on 4 November in Vigo.

The club was founded on 14 September 1923 after a merger between Vigo Sporting and Fortuna de Vigo. The team started in a uniform of a red shirt with black shorts but soon switched to the current light blue with white.

Celta play in the Spanish Primera Division from the 1991/1992 season. Two seasons later the club reached the national cup final, for the second time in its history (first time in 1948). Celta de Vigo have been improving ever since in Spain. Every year the team earns a point more and finishes a place higher.

Lately, Celta have also started to fulfil their European ambitions. Five years ago, the team qualified for the UEFA Cup and immediately kept the great Liverpool out of the quarter final. There, French side Olympique Marseille was just a little too strong. A year later Celta again made it to the quarter final and another French team ended their run. RC Lens went on to the semi final. One more year later, in the 2000/2001 season, Celta de Vigo lost to Barcelona, again in the quarter final. A less successful period followed. The Spanish side were eliminated in respectively the second and third round. Until this season, when the team from Galicia played in the qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League and even made it to the group stages at the expense of Slavia Praag.

Celta de Vigo have never played against a Dutch side in European competition. The team did prepare for the current season in Holland, as if they had a premonition that they would meet a Dutch team this year.

The team of coach Marco Lotina started the tour around Holland with a match against Telstar (2-0 win for Vigo). Then Emmen (5-0), Groningen (3-1) and Feyenoord (1-0) were all defeated.

Except that Mido has played for Ajax and Celta de Vigo, Benni McCarthy also played for both and Jordi Cruijff has the two teams on his resume as well. Just like Mido, Jordi also played for Celta on loan.

Someone else has been on loan in Vigo: no Ajax past - although last year it looked like he would join the team - but of Dutch birth: Rick Hoogendorp once was hired out to Celta de Vigo.

Important players of Celta de Vigo are the veteran Russian playmaker Aleksandr Mostovoj, Brazilian Edu and Yougoslavian forward Savo Milosevic, who is Spain's top goalscorer per September 3 with two goals from two matches.