Squad news


22 Oct 2008
Deportivo faces its first big exam in this part of the season during the visit to CSKA Moscow. Lotina is trusting in practicing a fast football and he has selected Valer??n, Guardado and Omar Bravo for the job. In the Russian team, coach Valery Gazzaev is trusting in the couple Vagner Love-Alan Dzagoev

CSKA represents the first Russian rival that Depor is meeting playing for European competitions, therefore the game means Deportivo’s first visit to that country. This match is the debut for both teams in group H, the other game of the day is the confrontation between AS Nancy-Lorraine and Feyenoord Rotterdam, while Lech Poznan is the side resting in this matchday.

The Russians are on fire during the final part of the Russian Premier League. They have won the last six league encounters: 2-0 at  FC Lokomotiv Moscow, 4-1 v FC Luch-Energiya Vladivostok, 3-1 at FC Zenit Saint Petersburg, 2-1 v FC Tom Tomsk, 2-1 at FC Khimki and 4-1 v FC Amkar Perm. But with just five matches remaining in the calendar, they are seven points behind the leaders FC Rubin Kazan. In the first round, the Russian side eliminated Croatian NK Slaven Koprivnica with a 3-1 aggregate score.

Meanwhile, Deportivo hasn’t won yet away from the Riazor playing for la liga, this after four visits: 0-1 at Villarreal, 0-0 at Osasuna, 2-4 at Valencia and 0-0 at Racing. However, Lotina’s team has achieved a victory in two of the three visits during the present European season: 2-1 at  Bnei Sakhnin in Intertoto and 2-0 at Hajduk Split for the UEFA’s second preliminary round.

Juan Carlos Valer??n returns to the starting eleven of Deportivo. The Canarian has just played 42 minutes on this liga season (in the game with Villarreal), but he has been a starter in the six European matches played until this point (two in Intertoto and four in the UEFA Cup). El Flaco will direct the traffic of the ball in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and he is the alternative of Miguel Angel Lotina in order to practice the fast game that he wants.

The main receiver of his passes will be Omar Bravo, the Mexican hasn’t scored yet in any of the eight official matches in which he has participated (5 in liga and 3 in Europe), but Lotina trust in him due to his abilities, as the Basque coach said: ?He offers quickness and a route to reach the rival’s area. We are really content with his work though he still missing goal.?

Andr?s Guardado and Cristian Hidalgo will complete the offensive formation of Depor. The ex-Atlas was rested during the past game with Racing Santander and now he will cover the left wing, while the Catalan is debuting as starter in a European competition. So far the European career of Cristian is reduced to the twelve minutes played as substitute in the first-leg against Brann Bergen. He will perform on the right wing as Angel Lafita will be waiting for a chance on the bench. The other option for the right wing, Pablo Alvarez, will be rested since he still struggling with a hamstring string problem.

Other novelty appears in midfield, Julian De Guzman is keeping his place as one of the pivotes in the formation, but Lotina is changing his partner, because in Moscow Antonio Tom??s will make his fourth European appearance. Curiously the Cantabrian midfielder has always played in the second-legs of the previous series played by Depor (Bnei Sakhnin , Brann Bergen and Hajduk Split).

More changes are occurring in defence, Colotto has been rested after scoring the two goals against Brann and after taking part of the last two liga encounters, therefore Portuguese Z? Castro is returning to the centre of the defence, Albert Lopo will continue to be the leader in the zone and Filipe Luis the reference for the left-back position.

The other modification in defence is that Adri??n L??pez ?Piscu’ will cover the right side, just like he did in the second-leg against Brann Bergen. It seems to be Lotina’s solution for the presence of Yuri Zhirkov in that sector.

Daniel Aranzubia completes the formation in the goalkeeping position, the Basque told to reporters that the squad is not worried for the fact of been playing in artificial grass nor for the temperature (around seven degrees) ?Weather forecasts say it will be cold, but I don’t think the temperatures will be dangerous. About the pitch, no matter is artificial grass, you can notice it’s very natural. ?

Talking about the goals for this game, Aranzubia said: ?In theory this is the most complicate rival that we will meet in the group, and we are facing it with hope. Let’s see if we can achieve a positive result and if we can add at least a point, because to do it in the stadium of the rival theoretically stronger will allow us to face the rest of the games with more calmness.?

Meanwhile Albert Lopo appointed before the trip to Russia that any point achieved in this game will be a benefit for the club ?To win in this stadium will mean a warning for all the rivals, because in theory, CSKA is the favourite of the group. We are going there thinking of a victory. If later we end with a point, it will be welcomed. We have more games ahead, three teams are advancing to the next phase and as soon as we get the points, the better. It’s important to make the debut in a positive way.?

The Catalan central defender also said that he hopes the lesson of Brann Bergen is already learned at Deportivo ?CSKA has a bigger name and more well know players compared to Brann, therefore we can’t make a comparison. We went to Norway without knowing how they were playing and we ended humiliated. From CSKA we don’t know too much, but we already know they are a great team. We hope we won’t suffer as it happened in the past series.?

Similar was the speech of Valer??n in Radio Onda Cero ?Those lessons are always helpful (the defeat at Brann). But is a situation for a bigger analysis. That day wasn’t a tragedy. We lived similar things in the past, like for example the 8-3 in Monaco. Those are isolated games. It will be worrying if this would happen in more occasions. We can’t make a drama for it.?

The Russian team is on fire as it has achieved six victories in a row in the Russian Premier League. In those six matches. the team of the coach Valery Gazzaev has scored seventeen goals. And ten of those goals were conquered by the deadly couple Vagner Love (4) - Alan Dzagoev (6). The Brazilian international is the current top scorer in the Russian league with twelve goals, while Russian Dzagoev, who just turned 18, has taken his tally to eight during this season. It’s expected that Gazzaev will sent both strikers against Deportivo in a 4-4-2 formation.

Other lethal choice in attack is left winger Yuri Zhirkov, nicknamed as 'the Russian Ronaldinho' for his dribbling skills and audacity. During the past weekend, the Russian skilful winger was nominated for the prestigious Ballon d'Or award (European Footballer of the Year award), along with 29 others including compatriot Andrei Arshavin. Meanwhile the right wing will be covered by Serbian Milos Krasic, supposedly a target of Manchester United.

The absentee for the game is Nigerian right defender/winger Chidi Odia who suffered an injury during the last 4-1 victory over FC Amkar Perm. His place will be probably taken by Bosnian international Elvir Rahimic, player that missed the game against Amkar due to suspension. For this reason it’s expected that coach Valery Gazzaev will play with a double pivote figure, the partner of Rahimic will be Evgeni Aldonin, player that performed for Russia in the 2004 European Football Championship. 

In defence, Gazzaev will continue to play with the Berezutski twins, Aleksei and Vasili. Both are central defenders with the capacity to perform in other positions like wingbacks or side-midfielders. Both are also regulars in the Russian national team. This time is expected that Aleksei will cover the right side, this in order to allow the participation of Sergei Ignashevich, other Russian international that’s considered as one of the best defenders in the country. Other central defender, Anton Grigoryev, will be responsible of the left-back position. The formation is completed with goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, the current starter at Guus Hiddink’s squad and that already accumulates 29 international appearances.

Before the game, Brazilian Vagner Love talked on the phone with newspaper El Ideal Gallego, the striker was plenty confident about the chances of his team for this match ?I believe we are the favourites, though we must respect any club especially if this club is Spanish. In Moscow it will be very difficult to see Deportivo surprising us.? About what he expects from the group, the Brazilian international said: ?I already said it in the day of the draw. I think the normal thing would be to see CSKA, Deportivo and Feyenoord advancing, but you can’t give anything as granted in football. The team losing at home will live a complicate situation.?

CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev – Aleksei Berezutski, Ignash?vich, Vasili Berezutski, Grigoriev - Krasic, Rahimic, Aldonin, Zhirkov - V??gner Love, Dzag??ev.
Deportivo: Aranzubia – Piscu, Z? Castro, Lopo, Filipe – De Guzm??n, Antonio Tom??s -  Cristian, Valer??n, Guardado – Omar Bravo.
Referee: Alon Yefet (ISR)
Kick-off: 18h00 (Luzhniki stadium)

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