Competition news

PREVIEW: HAJDUK SPLIT – DEPORTIVO (UEFA CUP)

27 Aug 2008
First final of the season 2008/2009 for Deportivo. The Galicians visit the Gradski Stadion u Poljudu with the necessity to score goals in order to break the scoreless draw of the first-leg. Lotina will trust in a 4-2-3-1 formation though he has the casualties of Manuel Pablo, Pablo Amo, Lafita and Xisco. In Hajduk, all the eyes are over Nikola Kalinic, the top-scorer in the Croatian league.

The 0-0 of the first game is forcing Deportivo to score goals in order to reach the first round in UEFA. A new scoreless draw will lead to extra-time and penalties, while a draw with goals will give the pass to the Galicians. It’s the second time in which Deportivo visits Croatia playing for European competitions, the previous case occurred in 2005 when Caparr??s’ squad visited Slaven Belupa for the Intertoto cup, the Galicians won that game (3-0). Curiously Hajduk is coming to this encounter after defeating the same rival in the local league (3-1).

DEPORTIVO: RETURNING TO THE 4-2-3-1
For the first time in seven months, coach Miguel ?ngel Lotina is ready to replace his scheme of five defenders during an official game. The Basque trainer knows that his team needs goals in order to achieve the pass and that’s why he’s trying to recuperate the ?old’ 4-2-3-1 figure, the central figure this time will be Juan Carlos Valer??n who will perform as the lonely playmaker in the formation.

But the biggest problems for Lotina are the casualties due to the injuries. And it’s that he’s missing four key players for this encounter: Xisco (hamstring strain), ?ngel Lafita (Appendicitis), Pablo Amo (Achilles) and Manuel Pablo (toe cyst). The main difficulties occur in defence since Barrag??n is also out until December meaning that youngsters Laure and Piscu will have to play. The defensive zone will be completed with Aranzubia in Depor’s goal, Filipe at the left-back position and Lopo playing alongside Piscu in the centre.

Another worry for Lotina comes in midfield, De Guzm??n seems unfit for this game and Lotina has proved Antonio Tom??s for this sector as the partner of Sergio. However the Canadian was called for the match and could be an alternative in the starting eleven. The right wing seems reserved this time for Juan Rodr?guez, the Andalusian will perform as a ?false? pivote. The offensive efforts will be on the side of Andr?s Guardado, Riki and Valer??n. The Mexican will play on the left wing and the Madrilenian will be the striker on the formation.

Before the trip to Croatia, coach Miguel ?ngel Lotina was sending a clear message about the meaning of this match ?These are the games you need in order to show that you are a football player, for its meaning, for the things we are playing for, therefore I am not worried about the fans in the stadium. This is football, the greater the environment, the better. This is a competition in which if you pass, great. If not, you screw even with my… nobody should think any elimination has a positive conclusion. Because it doesn’t. We must think about continuing in the competition.?

About the rival, the Me?aka-born trainer thinks it will play with a more offensive approach ?I don’t think they will use the same strategy implemented here. Neither have I thought they will play so offensively as they do in their league, what I already know is that this is going to be a very different game, that’s for sure. However I am waiting to see an offensive team, they will go out trying to score a quick goal pulled by the public.?

HAJDUK SPLIT: TRUSTING IN TORCIDA AND KALINIC
The Croatian side is hoping that the environment at the Gradski stadion u Poljudu will be a decisive factor in this eliminatory. The local fans, known as ?Torcida’, are one of the oldest and more enthusiastic groups of fans in Europe and they will surely put a lot of pressure during the encounter. Besides, Hajduk has always been a tough rival to beat in its own stadium.

However, there’s an interesting statistic: Hajduk has never eliminated a Spanish side during a European competition. So far the Croatians have faced four Spanish teams in the past and they never achieved the qualification: Valencia (1971/1972, eliminated by away goals), Atl?tico Madrid (1976/1977, 1-3 aggregate score), Valencia (1981/1982, 5-6 aggregate score) and Mallorca (2001/2002, 1-2 aggregate score)

For this game, coach Goran Vucevic is breathing more calmly now after his team achieved a 3-1 win over Slaven Belupa during the last weekend, his job was in danger after the poor results in the start of the season but now everything seems to be fine. On the pitch all the eyes will be over Nikola Kalinić, a 20-year-old striker that’s the current best scorer in the Prva HNL league with a tally of five goals. Croatia’s manager Slaven Bilić has even described him as "the future of Croatian football.?

Another of the hopes for the Croatian side is midfielder Mario Ticinovic, player that’s the youngest one to have a professional contract with Hajduk after he signed at the age of 17. In order to face Deportivo, Vucevic has the casualty of Goran Rubil, who is suspended after picking up a third yellow card in the first-leg with Deportivo, while defender Jurica Buljat is doubtful for injury reasons.

Before the match, Vucevic assured that his team would be more offensive compared to the match played at the Riazor. ?I expect a similar game to the one played in Spain. However it seems that Deportivo will slightly change its line-up, it seems they will use a 4-2-3-1 now. What should be different is our approach, because we will play more offensively.?

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Hajduk Split: Subasic – Jurica Buljat, Maloca, Zivkovic, Gabric - Andric, Skoko, Oremus, Ibricic – Ticinovic, Kalinic.
Deportivo: Aranzubia - Laure, Lopo, Piscu, Filipe Luis - Sergio, Antonio Tom??s - Juan Rodr?guez, Valer??n, Guardado - Riki.
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA).
Venue: the Gradski stadion u Poljudu.

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