Competition news

PREVIEW: DEPORTIVO - ESPANYOL (LIGA, SUNDAY 17h00)

22 Feb 2008
Espanyol comes to this game after five defeats within the last seven games and also with only one win at the Riazor during the last decade, but they are a dangerous side demonstrated with the fact of been the third best visitor on this liga season. Meanwhile, Lotina is hoping to keep the pace although his team lost in Huelva one week ago, he's making five changes in the starting squad, including the appearance of Wilhelmsson.

STATISTICS: TWO SIDES IN TROUBLES
Deportivo and Espanyol are playing at the Riazor for different reasons but following the same pattern. The Galicians are fighting for the permanence and have achieved seven of the last twelve points in dispute, but last Sunday's defeat against Recreativo put the squad once again in the drop zone. Meanwhile, Espanyol still have options to play the UEFA Champions League for the first time, but the Catalans have lost five of the last seven matches, including the last two at home (1-2 Vs Recreativo and 2-4 Vs. Espanyol).

But despite the poor results within the last two months, Espanyol continues to be a tough rival when it plays away from Montjuic, because Valverde's side has just lost three times after twelve visits in la liga: 1-2 at Recreativo, 0-1 at Almer?a and 1-2 at Valladolid. Curiously all this teams were fighting for the permanence. The nineteen points achieved away from home are putting Espanyol as the third best visitor in la liga, only surpassed by Real Madrid (23) and Valencia (21).

The opposite scenario is occurring at Deportivo, the win of Levante over Osasuna during the past matchday is leaving once again the Galician as the worst team at home during the present season. Lotina's Depor has only added nine points in this condition after eleven games, but it's also true that four of those nine points were added within the last two games.

To make interesting the things, it's necessary to have in mind the poor numbers of Espanyol when it plays in la Coru?a. Facing la liga, the Catalans have lost seven of their last ten games at the Riazor. Their only victory during that period of time occurred two seasons ago when Valverde's squad defeated Caparr??s's Deportivo with a 2-1 score (goals by Fredson and Armando S??).

And the curious statistic of this game is related to the referee. Aragonian Carlos Clos G??mez has whistled twice for Deportivo since his promotion to Primera Divisi??n on the season 2006/2007. In both opportunities Depor lost the game, the first one was a 0-1 defeat at the Riazor against Betis (2006/2007 campaign) ad the last occasion was the 1-3 lose at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid during the present season.

DEPORTIVO: FIVE CHANGES IN THE SQUAD
Coach Lotina doesn't want to lose the boost started in Valladolid's game after last weekend's setback in Huelva. That's why he's planning five modification in the squad that lost against Recreativo, although he will maintain the system conformed by five defenders. What will change in the defensive sector is the name of the keeper, because Dudu Aouate will probably return to the starting eleven for the first time after his fight with Mun??a and after his error against Osasuna in the first-round game. Lotina didn't want to confirm it (see the article below) but Fabricio will probably stay on the bench, what's clear is that Uruguayan Gustavo Mun??a wasn't included in the list for the game.

The defensive line will be the same one with the trio Coloccini-Lopo-Pablo Amo in the central positions, Manuel Pablo will cover the right-back position, while Filipe Luis will do the same on the left sector. The only small change in this zone is the position of Lopo, the Catalan will play in the middle of Coloccini and Pablo Amo, as it occurred during the second half against Recreativo.

The second modification in the starting eleven is the return of Sergio in order to take the place of Antonio Tom??s. The Cantabrian was facing a muscular problem during the week, he trained with normality on Thursday and Friday but he wasn't able to end Saturday's session, reason why he was left out from the list. Besides, Lotina already was thinking in making the change, maybe because the Catalan already scored twice against his ex-team during the present season, both goals in copa del rey. Therefore, he will perform alongside De Guzm??n in midfield.

The main 'facelift' is occurring in the offensive sector. Lotina will replace three players in this zone: Christian Wilhelmsson enters for Juan Rodr?guez, Angel Lafita for Joan Verd?? and Xisco for Rodolfo Bodipo. In this way, the Basque coach will repeat the same 5-2-2-1 figure used against Valladolid. This means that Lafita and Wilhelmsson  will perform as playmakers although they will also have the responsibility to play towards the wings. About the striker for the game, Lotina have some doubts although it seems that Xisco will have a chance after Bodipo was the selected choice for the past two games.

It was highly speculated that Juan Carlos Valer??n would take the place of Lafita in the starting eleven, but the same Canarian player warned during a press conference that he isn't ready to play "I am enchanted to see people wishing for my comeback, but we must wait for the right moment, to be comprehensive and to not have pressure for that. We can't forgive about the importance of this game and that's the priority, even over my comeback. Each week I am better, but to be going in or out of the squad depends of the coach and the necessities of the team. I will be there if he needs me."

Andr?s Guardado (stress fracture) and Cristian Hidalgo (knee) are the casualties for injury reasons, while Riki picked his fifth yellow card of the season at the Nuevo Colombino, reason why he's suspended for this match. Adri??n is recovered from his ankle sprain, but he wasn't included in the list for the confrontation against the Catalans. The other discards for technical reasons are Rub?n Castro and Barrag??n

Called players (18): Aouate, Fabricio (goalkeepers); Pablo Amo, Chapi, Lopo, Coloccini, Manuel Pablo, Filipe (defenders); Verd??, De Guzman, Sergio, Juan Rodr?guez, Valer??n, Lafita, Willhelmsson (midfielders); Xisco, Bodipo and Taborda (strikers).

ESPANYOL: THE COMEBACKS IN THE SQUAD
The five defeats within the last seven liga matches are stressing the situation in the Catalan club, but coach Ernesto Valverde is relieved since he's recovering several of the players sidelined for injury reasons. That are the cases of David Garc?a and Marc Torrej??n. This two defenders missed the last defeat with Sevilla (2-4) and now they are ready to return to the starting eleven. Same case than Albert Riera who was struggling with a pubalgy problem during the week.

Who won't take part of the game are Ra??l Tamudo who still out of action with a broken arm, while Iv??n de La Pe?a and Argentinean Pablo Zabaleta will miss the clash for suspension. Goalkeeper I?aki Lafuente is also out with a muscular injury, but Carlos Kameni already returned from the African Cup of Nations and in fact, the Cameroon international was the starting keeper during the last 2-4 defeat with Sevilla.

The returns of David Garc?a and Marc Torrej??n means the defensive line will be conformed by four players 'made at home', that's because they were promoted from Espanyol B: Right-back Javi Chica, the duo Daniel Jarque-Garc?a in the centre and Torrej??n playing on the left sector. Therefore Albert Serr??n, who made his debut on this season during the past weekend, will be on the bench. While Clemente Rodr?guez, who has been criticised by the papers for his poor performance, is out of the team for a pubalgy injury.

Without Zabaleta nor De La Pe?a in the starting squad, coach Valverde will probably trust in 'Lola' Smiljanic for the defensive tasks in midfield, his partner in the job will be Mois?s Hurtado. It will be the first appearance in the starting eleven for the Serbian international since the 1-2 defeat with Betis (January 27).

In the attacking zone, Albert Riera will perform on the left wing, Valdo will cover the right and Luis Garc?a will play as second striker. The absence of Tamudo, the best scorer for Espanyol in  la liga with ten goals, will be covered by the Brazilian Ewerthon who came on loan from VfB Stuttgart during the winter window. He already scored one goal after two games with the Catalan squad and also scored one goal at the Riazor during last year's visit of Zaragoza (3-2 win for Depor).

Despite the poor form of Espanyol, Ewerthon is optimistic about the future "We are the ones that have put the team in this situation and we know that we can go out with our own work. On Sunday we have to leave behind the problems because a positive result will give us the morale and the confidence. We are just living a bad series of results, but the upper clubs aren't too far from us. I am confident that as soon as we surpass this situation, we will live a good moment. I see the players are content, they are wanting to work and are conscious about what we are living, but we are calmed."

Called players (18): Kameni, Javi Ruiz (goalkeepers); Chica, David Garc?a, Torrej??n, Jarque, Alberto Serr??n (defenders); ?ngel, Rufete, Moha, Valdo, Riera, Mois?s Hurtado, 'Lola' Smiljanic (midfielders); Corominas, Ewerthon, Luis Garc?a and Jonathan Soriano (strikers).

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Deportivo: Aouate - Manuel Pablo, Pablo Amo, Lopo, Coloccini, Filipe - De Guzm??n, Sergio - Wilhelmsson, Lafita - Xisco.
Espanyol: Kameni - Chica, Jarque, Daniel Garc?a, Torrej??n - Smiljanic, M??is?s Hurtado - Valdo, Luis Garc?a, Riera - Ewerthon.
Referee: Carlos Clos G??mez (ten games on the season, five wins for the home side).
Kick-off: 17h00 (Riazor).
Record against Espanyol: 28 wins for Depor, 16 draws, 25 wins for Espanyol (Primera)
Record at the Riazor: 21 wins for Depor, 10 draws, 3 wins for Espanyol (Primera).


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