Squad news

REVIEW: REAL MADRID 1 – DEPORTIVO 0 (LIGA)

25 Jan 2009
A serious Deportivo was not able to achieve something positive from the Santiago Bernab?u. The squad of Lotina made a good job in defence, but it missed sparkle in attack. It was until the second half that Depor enjoyed of its best occasions to score, the bad news: the injury of Bodipo.

BEFORE THE GAME
Lotina surprised with the presence of Julian De Guzman replacing Juan Rodr?guez at the starting lineup, it was a last-minute modification, the Canadian was responsible of been the first line of defense against the attacks of Robben over Depor’s left side. The rest was the expected team, with a 4-3-2-1 figure and with Mun??a and Valer??n returning to a starting squad since a while ago.

At Real Madrid, Cannavaro was fit to play and he performed at the centre of the defence alongside Portuguese Pepe. It was the same squad that one week before defeated Osasuna at the same stadium. All the hopes up front were over Robben, captain Ra??l and Higua?n. It was a cold night as the temperature was around 3 degrees Celsius.

FIRST HALF
Real Madrid started stronger in the game and had its first clear opportunity at minute 3, it was Robben who made the play on the left wing, the play ended with Sneijder shooting on goal and Mun??a making his first save of the night. The Uruguayan reappeared two minutes later to face Ra??l one-on-one and then he cleared the ball to corner-kick.

Juande Ramos wanted to create a surprise during the first minutes with the presence of Robben on the left instead of the right, something that translated the pressure to the side of Manuel Pablo and Valer??n, this fact forced De Guzm??n to assist their partners when the Dutch man was having the ball. Depor was a shy squad within the first ten minutes and suffered a lot, but it warned after a combination between Verd?? and Valer??n, action that was transformed into a precise pass that Bodipo didn’t find by inches when he entered to the area (11’).

Then Depor started to have the ball possession, and Real Madrid reacted switching Robben to the right side, at minute 16 the ex-Chelsea ran over the right wing and sent a cross that Higua?n found inside the box, but his acrobatic shot went out. Three minutes later the same Robben started an attack after stealing the ball from De Guzm??n, this time he went to the left corner and made a new cross that Mun??a contained. It was clear that all the attacking game of the home team was passing through the Dutch, player that was hard to stop for Depor no matter it was marked by three men.

Lotina’s side was feeling more comfortable with the pass of the minutes, mainly in defense, but Deportivo’s problem was the same one of recent matches: disconnection between defense and offense. And it’s that all the balls recovered at the defensive sector were ending in long passes searching for a quick counterattack, but instead the ball was always intercepted by Real Madrid’s defense, reason why Verd??, Valer??n and Bodipo were not having too many opportunities.

The only occasion in which this strategy worked was at minute 25 as one of this quick plays reached Valer??n, the Canarian assisted Verd?? but the final shot went wide. Then Rodolfo Bodipo got injured after he was chasing a long ball sent by Depor’s defense, he had to leave the pitch in a stretcher and Riki replaced him. Real Madrid seemed a little tired when the first half was reaching the end, but then the locals pressed the accelerator and the lonely goal of the game arrived.

It came after two straight corner-kicks for the locals, the ball reached Lassana Diarra who sent a long cross from the right that captain Ra??l barely headed inside the area, but it was enough to put the ball at the corner of the goal. It was a late strike of the white team, but Deportivo had the chance to tie the game before half-time, it was a great play of Filipe on the left that meant a cross to the path of Riki, but Casillas was there to send the ball to corner-kick before it reached the head of the striker.

That was the first and only clear chance for Depor within the first 45 minutes, the Galician team was ineffective in attack though it was doing a nice job defending and trying to control midfield, the big difference compared to the game at Barcelona was that Lotina’s men were committing those important fouls that are useful to cut the impulse of the rival, De Guzm??n made a solid first half and was battling hard for midfield’s control. The main hope for the locals was Robben, player that always created danger against the visitors.

SECOND HALF
The actions started with both sides having a chance, first Depor reached the home area with a personal manoeuvre of Valer??n after a failed cross of Riki (47’), Real Madrid responded with a long run of Sergio Ramos that ended with a cross into the arms of Mun??a (48’). But immediately, the match lost its pace and was played in midfield territory.

At the 54th minute, Real Madrid was close to reach the second goal of the night, this time the play was started by Ra??l as the local captain sent a cross that Sneijder couldn’t transform into a shot on target, then the game gained intensity again, first with the continuation of Robben’s show, at minute 58 a counterattack of the home team caught Depor by surprise as Ra??l sent a long pass that the Dutch player controlled, but his crossed shot searching for the top-corner went out. Two minutes later Filipe hit the crossbar with a powerful shot from mid-distance. Those were the most exciting minutes of the second half.

Depor seemed to be finding the pace of the actions as it started to approach to Real Madrid’s area, at minute 61 Valer??n made a great play, but his pass to the area hit Pepe first and then was controlled by Casillas who was fouled by Riki in the action. Then four minutes later, Riki missed the target after a good pass of Verd??.

Then Angel Lafita, who was disappeared until this point of the game, had a great opportunity after he entered to the area and released a powerful shot that Casillas saved (67’). Juande Ramos realised that his team was walking in danger zone and he sent Klaas-Jan Huntelaarand Royston Drenthe to replace Ra??l and Higua?n, it was clear now that the home coach was trying to open the game to the wings and speculate with the counterattack. Van der Vaart entered to the pitch some minutes before this double change.

Now the situation was completely different to what occurred in the first half, because Real Madrid spent the last fifteen minutes locked at its back zone while it was hoping for a counterattack to kill the game, in this part of the match Depor didn’t find any opportunity to tie the score, this no matter that Lotina switched the system into a 4-4-2 figure as he sent Mista and Juan Rodr?guez to replace Lafita and De Guzm??n.

Instead, it was Real Madrid the squad that was closer to score a new goal, first with Robben who started a long counterattack in which he couldn't beat Mun??a with a drilling shot (90+1’), then Huntelaar failed a double occasion that was saved by the same man: Filipe (90+2’ and 90+3’)

AFTER THE GAME
Deportivo did a nice job trying to control the game of Real Madrid, but Lotina’s plans about making an attractive and fluid game in attack failed as Antonio Tom??s and Verd?? barely appeared, it was until the second half that Depor felt more loose in the game and the Galician side was close to reach the equaliser, but Casillas and the post avoided the tie.

It’s the fifth straight defeat for Deportivo in official matches, at least the squad still 8th in la liga with a difference of just two points with the UEFA zone. The tough period in the calendar in which Depor had to face the big teams in liga ends the next Sunday as Villarreal visits the Riazor (17h00 CET). The negative news were the injury of Bodipo, the scans will determine during the week the seriousness of the case.

MATCH STATISTICS
Real Madrid: Casillas – Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Cannavaro, Heinze - Robben, Gago, Diarra, Sneijder (Van der Vaart  63’) – Ra??l (Drenthe 72’), Higua?n (Huntelaar 72’)
Deportivo: Mun??a – Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Z? Castro, Filipe – Verd??, Antonio Tom??s, De Guzm??n (Juan Rodr?guez 82’) – Valer??n, Lafita (Mista 82’) – Bodipo (Riki 37’).
Referee: Teixeira Vitienes. He showed yellow card to De Guzm??n (9’), Lassana Diarra (71’), Pepe (80’) and Antonio Tom??s (81’)
Goals: 1-0: (40’) Ra??l.
Venue: Santiago Bernab?u (65,000)
Other statistics: Ball possession (53% - 47%); Total shots (18 - 9); Shots on target (6 - 2); Saves by the keepers (1 - 3); Corner-kicks  (8 - 3); Offsides (4 - 3); Fouls committed (14 - 9); Accuracy in the passes (81.29% - 86.38%)

ARCHIVE NEWS JAN/09

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