Squad news


24 Jan 2009
Tough and complicate game at the Bernab?u, and Lotina will face it with a change in the system and introducing two players in the lineup that haven’t been starters since a long time ago, Mun??a and Valer??n. Meanwhile Real Madrid trusts in Higua?n and Robben.

The Santiago Bernab?u stadium has always been a tough visit for Deportivo in la liga, and it’s that the Galician club has only won two times after playing 38 games there. The last victory was the 1-0 of the season 2004/2005 with a goal scored by Albert Luque. The curiosity is that the referee in that occasion was Teixeira Vitienes, exactly the same one that will whistle this match.

This game represents the kick-off of the second round in la liga, Real Madrid is living a solid moment after adding five victories in the last six official matches (four in liga and one in CL), exactly the same period since Juande Ramos took control of the squad. Together with Barcelona FC, Real Madrid is the best home team in la liga, because the white team has only dropped four points after ten matches played at the Bernab?u: 2-2 Vs Espanyol (matchday 06) and 3-4 Vs Sevilla (matchday 14). Meanwhile, Depor arrives with 11 of its 30 points achieved away from home, its last success out of the Riazor occurred exactly in Madrid: 2-1 win over Getafe (matchday 17).

A curious statistic to have in mind is that Deportivo hasn’t lost five straight official matches since thirty years ago. Depor arrives to the Riazor after four straight setbacks (three against Sevilla and the 0-5 against Barca), a defeat in Madrid will mean the first time since 1978 in which the squad suffers five defeats in a row. At the time Depor was at Segunda and was coached by Enrique Mateos, his team suffered four consecutive setbacks in liga (1-2 at Almeria,  3-5 Vs Castilla, 0-1 at Valladolid and 0-3 Vs Granada) plus one in Copa (0-1 at Lugo). The loss with Granada (November 21st 1978) was the fifth consecutive defeat in that period and cost the job to Mateos who was later replaced by legendary Luis Suarez, then the squad broke the curse with a 0-0 liga draw at Barakaldo.

Depor still alive in the race for the European positions, but the last setbacks with Sevilla and Barcelona have lowered the euphoria after the success in the first round of la liga. Now coach Miguel Angel Lotina is preparing novelties in order to regain Deportivo’s recent form, and these ?innovations’ mean a change in the system plus the return of Juan Carlos Valer??n as an starter at Primera Divisi??n.

El Flaco hasn’t been a starter in la liga since the year 2006, more precisely on January 22nd during a home match against RCD Mallorca, precisely the encounter in which the Canarian playmaker suffered the first of his two serious knee injuries. On the present season Valer??n was already a starter in the eight European matches played so far plus three of the four encounters in Copa Del Rey, but in liga he has only completed 144 minutes in seven games, always coming out from the bench.

Now Lotina gives a starting role to Valer??n, it’s one of the medicines of the Basque coach in order to clinch something positive from the Bernab?u. The general formula consist in switching the system from a 4-2-3-1 into a 4-3-2-1, figure that includes the presence of three pivotes plus two playmakers. The novelties start at the goal, with Dani Aranzubia suspended for the game, the starting spot will be for Gustavo Mun??a, the Uruguayan hasn’t played a game since January 6th 2008 (0-3 defeat Vs Atletico Madrid) and is taking the spot since Fabricio Agosto is having a contract dispute with the club, reason why Fabril’s Alberto Dominguez Rivas was picked as the second keeper for the game, it’s the first time in which the 20-year-old Galician player is part of an official list at the first team.

The only sector that won’t experience any change in Lotina’s ?revolution’ is defence, Manuel Pablo will continue covering the right-back position, Filipe Luis will do the same on the left sector, while Z? Castro and Albert Lopo will continue to be the central defenders.

One of the main reasons why Depor’s coach is switching the system is the type of game practiced by Real Madrid, the symmetry that characterizes its tactic is focusing the efforts on the centre and only plays with one winger (Robben, on the right), reason why the intention is to put three pivotes in midfield: Joan Verd?? towards the right, Antonio Tom??s at the centre, and Juan Rodr?guez towards the left (he will be responsible of Robben). In attack the intention is to play with two playmakers: Valer??n and Angel Lafita plus a single striker: Rodolfo Bodipo.

This means other three changes compared to the field squad that was trashed by Barcelona one week ago: Valer??n for the injured Andr?s Guardado, Lafita for Cristian and Antonio Tom??s for Sergio. It’s the first appearance in liga for Cantabrian Antonio Tom??s since November of the past year (1-0 win at Almeria).

Z? Castro said during the week that Deportivo must keep a strong mentality no matter the recent defeats, ?We can not be thinking of the last match. We must correct the errors and raise the head in order to make a good game on Sunday. We lost the last four encounters, but we knew this could happen and also that it can occur again in the future. La Liga is a test of regularity, we lost 0-5 with Barcelona, but fortunately those were only five points and we have to look it like that, because we are mentally strong.?

Riki, a player formed at the youth school of Real Madrid, was analysing the potential of the rival, ?They have a lot of power in attack and we must fight that. Besides they are working well and the numbers demonstrate this. It’s a compensated squad in all its lines.? Also, the ex-Getafe didn’t give importance to the recent polemic with the referees after the last win of Real Madrid over Osasuna, ?Its true the poor Juanfran spent a bad night. Madrid was benefited then, this are things that can occur, sometimes are in favour and others against you, it’s inevitable.?

Juan Rodr?guez was assuring that Depor must change the image left at the Camp Nou, ?After the game at Barcelona, I think any pitch is good in order to change the bad image that we left there. (Real) Madrid has a great squad though I think we need to be only worried about ourselves, also to be alert in every sector of the pitch. The key is to be focused in our game, the same one that has taken us to the place where we are now.?

But who focused all the attention were the keepers for the game, Alberto talked before the trip to Madrid and shared his impressions after been called for the first time, ?Let’s hope it would be every Sunday, this is the beginning and I hope it won’t be the end. Last week I was watching the game at Sestao when I saw the expulsion of Dani, then people started to talk that some of us could be taken to the first squad. Yesterday they commented this to me and here I am.?

Meanwhile, Gustavo Mun??a talked about this new opportunity during an interview with newspaper La Voz de Galicia, ?The game against Real Madrid is not just an important game for me, but for everybody. It’s a pretty stadium and one of the matches you always want to play because it’s pretty and difficult, especially for the situation lived by Real Madrid. If we win, it will be a huge strike and a great joy for the people of Deportivo, people who feel these games in a different way.?

Later the Uruguayan said that he is not worried for been returning to play after one year out, ?I am not worried but willful. This is a game to feel things and is normal to feel some nerves before the kick-off. There is an enthusiasm because is a good pitch and a solid rival. We must be at 100%, because if not, we won’t be able to win, besides we need an incentive… but the situation is pretty to give a big strike.?

Mista was included in the list for the game after finally surpassing a muscular contracture, the ex-Valencia already scored against Real Madrid in the game of the first round. Laure, another ex-Real Madrid player, is also returning after surpassing a thigh problem. But Piscu is out of the list after suffering a back injury during Saturday, therefore the Galician central defender is joining Pablo Amo and Guardado at the injury roomOmar Bravo and Dani Aranzub?a are suspended, while Pablo ?lvarez, Barrag??n and Fabricio are the discards for technical reasons.

List of called players (19):: Mun??a, Alberto (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Z? Castro, Lopo, Filipe, Colotto, Laure (defenders); Sergio, Juan Rodr?guez, Antonio Tom??s, De Guzm??n, Cristian, Lafita, Verd??, Valer??n (midfielders), Bodipo, Mista and Riki (strikers).

As is common during recent times, all the attention surrounding the Madrilenian club is focused outside the pitch, the resignation of Ram??n Calder??n, the possibility of new elections, the future of Kak??, Cristiano Ronaldo and even Lionel Messi are just some of the stories filling the papers on these days. But the true is that things are going well inside the pitch, and it’s that Real Madrid has clinched four straight victories in la liga: 1-0 Vs Valencia (matchday 16), 1-0 Vs Villarreal (matchday 17), 3-0 at Mallorca (matchday 18) and 3-1 Vs Osasuna (matchday 19).

And three men have been the main protagonists within this short period of time. First coach Juande Ramos who has only lost one of the six games since he replaced Bernd Schuster. Later Gonzalo Higua?n and especially Arjen Robben, the Dutch has scored three goals and has gave one assist in those four matches and is considered right now the most dangerous attacking player of Real Madrid. Meanwhile the Argentinean striker is doing a solid job replacing Van Nistelrooy as he has scored two goals within the last four liga games, Higua?n has also taken his tally to 14 goals on the season, only surpassed in Spain by Samuel Eto’o (18) and David Villa (15).

Arjen Robben was talking on Saturday and he admitted that he’s living a great moment at Real Madrid, ?It is true I am living a solid moment. I am phenomenal in a physical sense and things are going fine. It’s pretty to score a goal, but it isn’t something that worries me. The important thing is to keep winning games, so the team will aspire to win la liga and the Champions League.?

The good results in the last four liga matches are driving Juande Ramos to keep the same scheme used against Osasuna, this no matter the long list of casualties at the squad. It’s a 4-4-2 figure with Iker Casillas at the goal, Sergio Ramos, who has scored two goals within the last four games, playing at the right-back position, Gabriel Heinze on the left, and the duo K?pler Laveran Lima ?Pepe’-Fabio Cannavaro at the centre. The Italian didn’t train properly during the week due to an ankle problem on his right leg, but he was fit to play on Saturday, in case he is not prepared on Sunday, his place will be taken by Christoph Metzelder, though another option is to move Sergio Ramos to the centre and play with Miguel Torres or M?chel Salgado at the right side.

In midfield Fernando Gago, new signing Lassana Diarra and Wesley Sneijder will cover the centre, while Arjen Robben will focus his attacks on the right wing. The couple in attack will be composed by Gonzalo Higua?n and Ra??l. This attacking duo is not so attractive for the media like the couples Messi-Eto’o or Forl??n-Aguero, but together they already scored 19 goals in la liga, that means the 83% of the goals conquered by the whole Depor’s squad in the same competition.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, for whom Real Madrid paid 20 million Euros (plus objectives) during the winter window, will be sited on the bench. ?The Hunter’ talked on Friday about the fact that he hasn’t scored yet with his new team, ?We have won three games and that’s very good. I don’t feel the pressure to score my first goal. I haven’t been able to do it, but I have had opportunities and I will need to do a better job, the goals will come.?

Other Dutch player for whom Real Madrid paid a fortune -13 million Euros- is Rafael Van der Vaart, he will also be sited on the bench. Meanwhile, the long list of casualties for injury reasons is composed by Rub?n De la Red (heart problem), Ruud van Nistelrooy, Mahamadou Diarra (both knee), Guti (stress fracture), Dani Parejo (knee sprain) and Jerzy Dudek (knee)

If Deportivo is having problems with Fabricio, at Real Madrid the problem is Javier Saviola, the Argentine is now tired of been a discard and exploded on Saturday during an interview with Spotpaper Marca, he said that his situation ?can’t be tolerated any longer? and requested for a ?solution? to his case.

List of called players (19): Casillas, Codina (goalkeepers); Salgado, Pepe, Ramos, Cannavaro, Heinze, Torres, Metzelder (defenders); Lass, Gago, Sneijder, Robben, Drenthe, Van der Vaart, Javi Garc?a (midfielders); Ra??l, Huntelaar and Higua?n (strikers).

Real Madrid: Casillas – Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Cannavaro, Heinze - Robben, Gago, Diarra, Sneijder – Ra??l, Higua?n
Deportivo: Mun??a – Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Z? Castro, Filipe – Verd??, Antonio Tom??s, Juan Rodr?guez – Valer??n, Lafita – Bodipo.
Referee: Teixeira Vitienes
Kick-off: 21h00 (Santiago Bernab?u)
Record Vs Real Madrid: 17 wins for Depor, 18 draws, 41 wins for Real Madrid (Primera)
Record at the Bernab?u: 2 wins for Depor, 5 draws, 31 wins for Real Madrid (Primera)



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