Competition news

REVIEW: DEPORTIVO 1 - REAL MADRID 0 (LA LIGA)

15 Mar 2008
17 years and counting! Once again Real Madrid failed to take something positive from the Riazor, this time Deportivo wasn't the brilliant squad of past seasons and it only needed an own goal in order to take the three points. And its that Real Madrid was a poor team that even missed to make a shot on target during the ninety minutes, while Deportivo wasted the chance to achieve a bigger score at the end of the second half.

BEFORE THE GAME
No surprises at Lotina's line-up, the Basque coach presented the same team that drew at Mestalla, the only 'fresh faces' where on the bench, because Guardado and Mun�a were returning after surpassing their injuries. Sergio kept his place in midfield while Antonio Tomes was his substitute.

The novelties were at Real Madrid, coach Bernd Schuster was making a little 'revolution' in his squad, he left Julio Baptista on the bench, same thing for Robinho who wasn't totally fit for the encounter. Therefore the German trainer chose a 'weird' trident up front: Royston Drenthe-Ra�l-Roberto Soldado. It was the first time that Soldado was starting a game in Primera for Real Madrid.

FIRST HALF
The situation seemed defined since the first minutes, Deportivo was holding back its position, while Real Madrid was having the ball possession. The Galicians were speculating with the counterattacks, actions that were focused on the wings. It wasn't a surprise since Lotina planned the match in this way. The surprise was to see the passive attitude of Real Madrid throughout the encounter, and its that Los Blancos ended the ninety minutes without making a single shot on target.

The first opportunity for Deportivo was a wide shot of Xisco, the play started after Filipe stole a ball on the left sector, later the Brazilian assisted the Mallorcan striker, but his final shot went over the crossbar. The attitude of both teams was really cautious within the first half, only four shots were made during this period of time and the ball spent the most of the time at midfield.

Real Madrid's biggest problem was to focus its game by the centre, exactly the zone where Depor was stronger since the trio Lopo-Coloccini-Pablo Amo never gave any chance to Soldado nor to Ra�l, with Guti blocked by De Guzm�n, the visitors never found the ideas nor the solutions to surpass Depor's strategy. That's why the best chances for Madrid came with long balls coming from its own defensive zone.

One of this occasions occurred at the 8th minute, it was a long ball searching for Soldado that was deflected into a corner-kick, the reaction of Depor came with Sergio who ran 20 meters in midfield to pass the ball to Filipe, then the Brazilian sent a cross from the left wing that was stopped by Casillas. Sergio always seemed calmed and was directing the traffic of the ball with solvency, but he didn't participate too much in the game, mostly because the passes from the defensive sector were directly searching for the wingers.

It was clear that Lafita and Wilhelmsson were the main references in the attacks of the Galicians, Depor's defenders always searched for their velocity, although Lotina's squad missed precision in its passes, that why Real Madrid seemed very comfortable on the pitch during some passages of the game.

Lafita made a very good game, the Aragonian player and Wilhelmsson were frequently exchanging their positions on the pitch and the visiting defenders always had troubles to mark them. In one of this occasions, Lafita made a great play on the right wing, he eluded a rival when he was almost over the line and sent a pass to Wilhelmsson, but the Swedish couldn't hit the ball properly and his effort arrived to Casillas's arms without problems.

Then the game reached a dark period, neither Real Madrid nor Deportivo were finding the solutions to their own problems, the Galicians were very delayed on the pitch, speculating with harmless counterattacks that were ending in nothing, mostly because the final pass was failing. The defenders weren't passing the ball to Sergio,  instead their efforts were going directly to Lafita and Wilhelmsson, and Madrid's defenders were intercepting their intentions. The transition defence-attack was becoming to much accelerated and Depor spent several minutes without creating any danger against Casillas. At least De Guzm�n was fighting for every ball, while Sergio seemed very accurate when he had the chance to receive the ball.

The problem for Real Madrid was that Schuster's team continued focusing its game by the centre, with a Guti that was out of the game, the attacks from the visitors were powerless and the ball was always ending in Aouate's hands or in the boots of a defender. Therefore the match spent a period of 20 minutes in which nothing was happening, Depor was losing the ball really fast while Madrid was doing nothing with it.

It was until the 43rd minute that Real Madrid was able to make a decent combination, Ra�l passed the ball to Soldado and then he returned the favour to Madrid's marksman, but Ra�l's final shot went over the crossbar. Half-time arrived with a scoreless draw, Depor was doing the predicting thing, holding its position and waiting for a chance in a counterattack. Meanwhile Real Madrid seemed asleep, like been content with the draw.

SECOND HALF
The game changed a little bit, suddenly Real Madrid was giving the ball possession to Deportivo, it was a trap because Schuster's team was hoping to open the spaces in Depor's defensive zone, but Lotina 'didn't bit the hook', his Deportivo just enjoyed the situation and spent the time passing the ball in midfield. In this way, the first ten minutes passed without novelties. But there was a play that was near to change the story, a long pass from Pepe surprised Depor's defence, the ball went to Ra�l's path, but the Spanish striker couldn't control the ball when he was alone against Aouate. It was just a new demonstration that Real Madrid was only creating danger through long balls coming from the back.

Then, the key play of the game occurred, Filipe Luis received the ball on the left wing, the Brazilian eluded Torres and ran ten meters inside the penalty area, then the ex-Real Madrid sent a cross that hit defender Pepe when the Portuguese was entering to the box, the deflection distracted Casillas who was throwing himself to the left following the trajectory of the ball, at the end it entered by the centre. The goal broke the deadlock and both teams started to modify their strategy.

It seemed that both coaches were waiting for the first goal in order to make changes, the first one to react was Lotina who sent Riki to replace a tired Xisco, the Mallorcan ran throughout the match, but it never found a clear chance. Four minutes later, it was time for Schuster' moves, he replaced Soldado and Drenthe with Higua�n and Robinho. But at the end this modifications were worthless and Real Madrid continued stuck and focusing its efforts by the centre.

The best chance for Real Madrid came at the 69th minute, a free-kick taken by Guti in midfield reached Aouate's box, nobody could clear the danger, the ball reached Cannavaro who was two meters away from the goal line, but the Italian couldn't connect the ball and it was cleared at the end by Coloccini.

Real Madrid became desperate during the last twenty minutes, Julio Baptista entered but the visitors continued attacking without ideas. This desperation allowed Depor to take advantage of the empty spaces in order to build dangerous counterattacks, specially after Andr�s Guardado replaced Lafita. But this time the attacks of the Galicians were worthless, Filipe wasted the best chance after he sent over the crossbar a good pass from Wilhelmsson (83'). He was alone at the edge of the penalty area. Later Guardado had two chances: first with a crossed shot that Casillas stopped (84') and later with a volley that didn't surprise the keeper (88').

Antonio Tom�s was the last modification for Lotina, he entered for Sergio who was having muscular problems. The final chance for Real Madrid  arrived one minute later, Higua�n won a ball on the left sector, but his cross was headed out by Baptista. In this way, Madrid left the Riazor without making a single shot on target, a poor statistic for a team that was wishing to increased its difference at the top of the table. The final whistle just awoke the celebration of the fans that filed Riazor for the first time on the season.

AFTER THE GAME
A new step forward for Deportivo's aspirations, specially since Recreativo was achieving a victory over Real Murcia at the same time (4-2). So far, the Galicians occupy the 12th spot with 34 points, surpassing other teams like Osasuna, Betis and Zaragoza. But it had to wait until Sunday's results in order to realise about his final position on this matchday. Lotina's team will now travel to Mallorca for its next game (Saturday 20h00), for this game De Guzm�n will be suspended since he picked his fifth yellow card of the season.

MATCH STATISTICS.
Deportivo: Aouate - Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Pablo Amo, Coloccini, Filipe Luis - Sergio (Antonio Tom�s 87'), De Guzm�n - Wilhelmsson, , Lafita (Guardado 80') - Xisco (Riki 66').
Real Madrid: Casillas - Torres, Pepe, Cannavaro, Heinze (Baptista 78') - Diarra, Guti, Sneijder - Drenthe (Higua�n 68'), Soldado (Robinho 68'), Ra�l.
Goal: 1-0:  (57') Pepe (own goal).
Referee: Turienzo Alvarez. He showed yellow card to De Guzm�n (60'), Coloccini (68'), Guti (72'), Aouate (89') and Pepe (90+2').
Venue: Riazor (34,600)
Other statistics: Ball possession (40% - 60%); Total shots (4 - 2); Shots on target (2 - 0); Saves by the keepers (0 - 1); Corner-kicks  (3 - 4); Offsides (2 - 0); Fouls committed (16 - 8).

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