Competition news

PREVIEW: BARCELONA – DEPORTIVO (20h00, LIGA)

16 Jan 2009
Without doubt the most complicate visit for Deportivo in the whole season, Lotina is only making one change compared to the squad that faced the last three liga games: Cristian for Lafita. Meanwhile, Barcelona arrives to this game trying to break all the records and with Eto’o, Henry and Messi in attack.

STATISTICS: THE RECORD OF BARCELONA
Last weekend’s victory over Osasuna at Reyno de Navarra (3-2) allowed Barcelona to reach the mark of 47 points just one matchday before the end of the first round, that mark is tying the record imposed by Real Madrid on the past campaign. This means that if Barca defeats or draws with Depor, it will be considered the best statistical team of la liga during a first round, at least since each victory is rewarded with three points. Besides Guardiola’s squad has scored 54 goals in 18 matches, that means 3 goals per game, impressive number without comparison in recent seasons.

Another remarkable thing is that Barcelona has only lost one game (0-1 at Numancia), drew other two matches (Racing and Getafe), while the rest of games ended in a victory for them. The Catalans have not dropped any point since the end of November when Getafe achieved a 1-1 draw in Catalonia.  Meanwhile Depor has improved its visiting record after a bad start, and it’s that Lotina’s side has won three of its last six matches played in this condition: 0-3 at Betis (matchday 09), 0-1 at Almeria (matchday 13) and 1-2 at Getafe (matchday 17).

It is true the only three victories of Depor at the Camp Nou came within the last eight visits there, but it’s also true that Deportivo has only won one of the last nine liga games against Barcelona. It was during the last confrontation between both sides at the Riazor: 2-0 on the last liga campaign (matchday 34). A curious thing is that Depor has at least scored one goal during the last nine visits to the Camp Nou.

DEPORTIVO: CRISTIAN THE ONLY NOVELTY
This is the most complicate moment for Depor on the present season, firstly because the Galician side is facing the toughest part of the calendar: it arrives after playing with Sevilla three times in a row, later it's time for the visit to the Bernab?u and ends with the home game against Villarreal. Secondly, Depor arrives to the Camp Nou after suffering three straight defeats, something that doesn’t occur since one year ago when Depor lost in liga with Atletico Madrid (0-3, matchday 18), Villarreal (3-4, matchday 19) and UD Almeria (0-1, matchday 20).

In order to face the game, Lotina will only introduce one modification compared to the starting elevens that played in the last three matches in la liga. The change is the presence of Cristian Hidalgo on the right wing replacing Angel Lafita. It’s a tactical manoeuvre to support the side of Manuel Pablo, probably taken by Henry in the opposite squad. Cristian, an ex-Barcelona member, played as starter at the Camp Nou during the past season and he scored the lonely goal of Depor during the 1-2 defeat there.

The rest of the squad will be the same that lost with Sevilla at the Riazor: Dani Aranzubia will be at the goal, Manuel Pablo at the right-back position, Filipe Luis at the left spot, Z? Castro and Albert Lopo at the centre of the defence, Sergio and Juan Rodr?guez in the double pivote function, Andr?s Guardado at the left wing, ex-Barcelona Joan Verd?? in the playmaking function and Rodolfo Bodipo as the lonely striker.

Together with Verd?? and Cristian, players that are facing their former club, the attention will be on Bodipo, the Guinean has scored a goal in the last three liga matches (Recreativo, Getafe and Sevilla), and if he scores again, he will tie the last good streak imposed by a striker: Diego Trist??n on the season 2005/2006 after the Andalusian scored in four straight liga encounters between matchday 14 & 17 (Sevilla, Cadiz, Celta and Espanyol).

Depor’s players know that a positive result at the Camp Nou is a difficult thing to achieve, but they are hopeful about making a good presentation, as Andr?s Guardado said after Friday’s training, ?We know there are chances, though they are minimal and we will try to achieve the three points. The eleven men have to run, and we have to defend. The ones up front are the first players that must defend and my job is to mark Dani Alv?s, I will try to stop him. We have a lot to win, besides in the next week we face Real Madrid and it will be useful to reach that game willful.?

Mista still struggling from a muscular contracture and wasn’t picked for the travel to Catalonia, he is joined by Laure and Pablo Amo at the injury room. Omar Bravo is suspended since he was sent off in Copa, but Lotina chose to just include Riki as an additional attacker, instead he preferred to travel with two more defenders: Colotto and Piscu . Mun??a, Barrag??n and Pablo ?lvarez are the players left out due to technical reasons.

List of called players (19): Aranzubia, Fabricio (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Z? Castro, Lopo, Filipe, Colotto, Adri??n L??pez ?Piscu’ (defenders) Sergio, Juan Rodr?guez, Antonio Tom??s, De Guzm??n, Cristian, Lafita, Guardado, Verd??, Valer??n (midfielders), Bodipo and Riki (strikers).

BARCELONA: A MACHINE CALLED BARCA
The team coached by Josep Guardiola has virtually hoarded all the best marks in this liga season: best offense (54 goals scored), best defense (13 goals allowed), Pichichi (Eto’o, 16 goals), Zamora (Valdes, 0.72 goals per game), most wins in the tournament (15), less defeats in the season (1)… Countless numbers that demonstrate why they are considered by far the best team in Spain, some even appoint that of Europe.

Barcelona is also the only team in la liga that hasn’t been defeated at home, so far they have won all their matches at the Camp Nou except from the 1-1 draws with Racing Santander and Getafe. Another impressive thing is that the Catalans usually crushes the rivals at home, actually so far they have scored at least three goals in six of the nine liga games played at the Camp Nou: 3-2 Vs Betis (matchday 04), 6-1 Vs Atletico (matchday 06), 5-0 Vs Almeria (matchday 08), 6-0 Vs Valladolid (matchday 10), 4-0 Vs Valencia (matchday 14) and 3-1 Vs Mallorca (matchday 17).

Barcelona even seems intimidating during adverse moments, and it’s that Guardiola’s squad has won the last three liga confrontations no matter it started losing the encounter: 2-1 at Villarreal (matchday 16), 3-1 Vs Mallorca (matchday 17) and 3-2 at Osasuna (matchday 18). Situation that was repeated in Copa against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday (2-1).

But the Catalans also have a weak point: they allow too much goals in set-pieces.  Barca has leaked 23 goals between liga, Copa and Champions League, and nine of those goals (40%) came in stationary plays. More precisely two through direct free-kicks and seven after a player found a cross inside the box during a corner or a free-kick. To emphasise that in the last three official matches, Barcelona has leaked at least one goal through set-pieces.

For the clash against Depor, Guardiola will probably return to the usual 4-3-3 starting eleven after resting several men in Copa Del Rey. Besides, his only casualties at the moment are Gabriel Milito with a knee injury and Sergi Busquets who is suspended after picking the fifth yellow card of the season in the game Vs Osasuna.

The absence of Busquets in midfield should be covered by Andr?s Iniesta or by Eidur Gudjohnsen, the doubt will be cleared until Saturday since Guardiola usually releases the list of called players for the home games just two hours before the encounter. Iniesta was doubtful due to a thigh problem, but he’s already fine, same thing than Lionel Messi who was facing an ankle injury after a tough foul of Perea in Copa. The Argentine star in now fit to play and will lead the impressive attack of Barcelona alongside Samuel Eto’o and Terry Henry. Combined, these three forwards have scored 36 goals on the liga season, that means 13 more goals than the whole Deportivo’s squad.

Victor Vald?s, the current Zamora at Primera, will be the goalkeeper, the line of four defenders will be composed by Brazilian Daniel Alves at the right-back position, Eric Abidal on the left spot, Rafael M??rquez and Carles Puyol at the centre of the defence. The Mexican is returning after an injury and is taken the place of Gerard Piqu? who was a starter at Reyno de Navarra.

In midfield territory, Seydou Keita will be responsible of the defensive tasks, while the creation of game will be the job for Xavier Hern??ndez and the option that Guardiola will choose to replace Busquets (Iniesta or Gudjohnsen). Finally, the deadly trio in attack will be Henry-Messi-Eto'o. Henry hasn’t scored yet against Depor in la liga, while Messi has only did it once, but Eto’o is already one of the historic goal-scorers against Depor has the Cameroonian already scored ten times in matches played against the Galicians (6 with Mallorca and 4 with Barcelona).

List of called players: not released (Guardiola will give the list two hours before the game)

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Barcelona: Vald?s - Alves, Puyol, M??rquez, Abidal - Xavi, Keita, Iniesta or Gudjohnsen - Henry, Messi, Eto'o.
Deportivo: Aranzubia - Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Z? Castro, Filipe - Sergio, Juan Rodr?guez - Cristian, Verd??, Guardado - Bodipo.
Referee: Rodr?guez Santiago
Kick-off: 20h00 (Camp Nou) 
Record Vs Barcelona: 20 wins for Depor, 14 draws, 42 wins for Barcelona (Primera)
Record at Camp Nou: 3 wins for Depor, 5 draws, 30 wins for Barcelona (Primera)

ARCHIVE NEWS JAN/09

ZAPPING

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