Squad news

PREVIEW: DEPORTIVO – AALBORG (UEFA, 21h00)

25 Feb 2009
Depor searches a new European ?miracle’ at the Riazor. The Galicians need at least three goals to reach the extra-time, and Lotina continues to suffer several casualties at his squad. Meanwhile, AaB arrives with the same squad of the past week.

STATISTICS: NUMBERS FOR THE MIRACLE
Deportivo needs a 4-0 win to advance or at least a 3-0 to reach the extra-time, any of those scores seem difficult to achieve taking in mind the casualties at Lotina’s team. But there are some stats from the past that are inviting to the optimism. Starting with the fact this is the second time that AaB visits the Riazor, the first occasion was for the UEFA Cup 1993/94, opportunity in which the Danes were crashed 5-0 with a hat-trick of Bebeto and a double of Claudio Barrag??n, score that will be enough this time.

Besides, this game represents Aalborg’s third visit to Spain playing for European competitions. The first one was the mentioned 0-5 loss with Depor, and the other one occurred on the present season as AaB visited Villarreal for the Champions League group stage, the Danes lost the game with a 3-6 score. A similar score against Depor will put AaB in the next round, but the interesting data is that the Danes have leaked eleven goals in just two visits to Spain.

Depor will also try to repeat the ?miracle’ of Brann Bergen, another Scandinavian club faced in the previous round of the competition, in the tie the Galician side came from behind to overcome a 0-2 aggregate score with a solid performance and a penalty shootout at the Riazor. It must be emphasised that one of the keys for the mission is to achieve a clean sheet, because in case the Danes scores a goal, a difference of three goals in the scoresheet won’t be enough and Depor will then be forced to win by a four-goal margin (5-1, 6-2, 7-3, 8-4).

Another encouraging fact is the recent home record of Deportivo playing for European competitions. And it’s that the Galician squad still unbeaten in nine European matches at the Riazor since losing 5-0 to AS Monaco FC in Group A of the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League on 8 December 2004. The positive streak includes seven wins and two goalless draws. With 15 goals scored and just one goal allowed in the process.

DEPORTIVO: BETWEEN THE HOPE AND THE CASUALTIES
In the last days a large group of fans have been calling to support the squad ahead of the important clash in UEFA, the intention is to make believe that the needed score is more a possible thing than a miracle. At the same time, the same players have been encouraging their team mates with positive comments before the game, even some Depor’s ex-players have said in public that they believe in the ?miracle’. Lotina, however, is forced again to face the challenge with several casualties at his squad.

Because, paradoxically, Depor needs goals to advance and it’s facing the game with only two available attackers at the squad: Rodolfo Bodipo and Omar Bravo. The first one is not at 100% level as he is just returning from a hamstring strain injury, while the Mexican is at the door out to Tigres. But since Riki and Mista are injured and since Lassad is not inscribed for the competition, Lotina will have to risk with Bodipo in the starting formation.

This time the casualties are also affecting the defensive sector, Manuel Pablo and Pablo Amo still out injured, while Albert Lopo is suspended and Laure was released of the UEFA list in order to make some room for keeper Mun??a. And with Barrag??n discarded for technical reasons, Lotina only has four available defenders for the match, reason why he has picked Juanan from Fabril, the Majorcan defender played the two games in Intertoto and he’s returning to the first team seven months later.

Juanan was interviewed by La Voz De Galicia and was remembering his stage at the first squad for the Intertoto Cup, ?I remember those games with a lot of hope, I played both legs, but later I returned to the second squad and since then I was focused at Fabril.? Later he joked about his return, ?that I’m entering into the list of called players? Then I am going to shave today.? He also talked about his contract, which is ending in June, ?Nobody has spoken to me, but I will love to stay for several years. I am very content and people have treated me really well.?

About the lineup for the game, Lotina will keep using the 4-3-2-1 system presented since the start of the second round in liga. Dani Aranzubia will be at the goal, in defence Adri??n L??pez ?Piscu’ will play at the right-back position after been the hero against Valencia. Filipe Luis will continue on the left side, while the couple at the centre will be Diego Colotto-Z? Castro. Argentine Colotto is the top-scorer at the squad in European competitions (3 goals), but he hasn’t played an official game since December (against Nancy in the group stage of the UEFA Cup). In midfield, Lotina will present a line of three pivotes composed by Joan Verd??, Julian de Guzm??n and Antonio Tom??s, though Sergio could also be considered. Meanwhile the two playmaking functions will be for Juan Carlos Valer??n and Angel Lafita. Finally, Rodolfo Bodipo will be the lonely attacker.

A lot has been written and said during the week about the chances of Depor, between the comments published are the ones of the veterans. Fran, ex-captain of the squad that played in both games against Milan in Champions League and in the first game with AaB in UEFA (93/94), was appointing to what Depor must do in the game, ?The squad must go out for the match since the beginning. Against Milan we went out for the goals since the first minute and everything was perfect. And that’s what Depor must do now: to force the rival to realize is playing against a superior squad and that also has a great group of fans.?

O Neno was even predicting the qualification of Depor to the next round, ?I believe the final score will be a 5-1. If they score a goal, things will be more complicated. But Deportivo has solid players in defence and they will go out very daring in attack. I see them prepared to achieve the comeback, because Aalborg didn’t demonstrate to be the superior side in the first-leg game.?

Another veteran that talked was Claudio Barrag??n, the current coach of Elche, and who scored two goals against AaB in the UEFA game of 1994, was comparing that match with the current challenge of Depor, ?In that game, we went out with a lot of pace. And if you add to that intensity that Bebeto was converting into goals any ball that he was touching, we not only came back but ended achieving a big score. Besides to my goals, they invalidated another one to me. I thought it was wrong, but later I watched the play and I recognise I was offside. Luckily, we didn’t need that goal. The current Depor has the same weapons to turn back the tie. Beyond scoring fast, a key will be to win the first actions, to see Depor imposing itself in the divided plays, to see them with the right attitude, because that will involve the public even more.?

Pedro Riesco, another of the veterans from the past, was invoking the ?magic powers’ of the Riazor, this in order to achieve the miracle, ?Riazor is the right place to dream. If to surpass a 3-0 in UEFA is possible at any place, that place is the Riazor. It has a tradition; we already saw Depor in more spectacular games against better teams than Aalborg, as against (AC) Milan.?

Meanwhile, Valer??n was assuring that Deportivo must not lose the patience during the match, ?It’s very important to not lose the patience. It’s a game in which, like it or not, they will be locked up at the back, trying to defend well, while we will be attacking. We can’t lose the patience or fell down if we are having troubles trying to create occasions, because the game is too long and we can’t give it as lost.?

Cristian Hidalgo surpassed his back problems and was picked up for the game, but the injury room still busy with Pablo Amo, Riki, Manuel Pablo, Mista and Guardado. Riki could be ready for the liga game with Numancia. Besides, Antonio Barrag??n and Fabricio weren’t included in the list for the game due to technical reasons.

List of called players (18): Aranzubia, Mun??a (goalkeepers); Z? Castro, Juanan, Colotto, Adri??n L??pez ?Piscu’, Filipe (defenders); De Guzm??n, Antonio Tom??s, Juan Rodr?guez, Sergio, Verd??, Lafita, Pablo ?lvarez, Cristian, Valer??n (midfielders), Omar Bravo and Bodipo (strikers).

AALBORG: CONFIDENT BEFORE THE GAME
The papers in Aalborg are more worried about secondary stuff rather the possible reaction from Deportivo. As example the Nordjyske Stiftstidende, which was worried because only 30 fans are traveling to watch the game at the Riazor, while it was comparing the number with the 2,024 supporters that witnessed the 2-2 draw with Manchester United in the away section at Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, the DR Nordjylland was worried due the players’ physical condition, this since the match at the Riazor is just the second official confrontation for them during this year. Regardless to this issue, physical coach Ashley Tootle was affirming the players are prepared for the challenge, ?We have less damage now than we've had before. We (the coaching staff) have been talking about what we should do in order to be prepared for the game. And I can tell you we are ready.? The coach said.

Who does not seem too confident about the game is coach Magnus Pehrsson, also some of his players. The Swedish manager is traveling to La Coru?a with almost the same squad that defeated Depor one week ago. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Karim Zaza was even assuring that his team will suffer at the Riazor, ?I’m sure nobody was expecting for the result of the first-leg. Now we must be cautious, because 90 minutes of suffering are waiting for us.?

It’s expected that Pehrsson will use the same squad that trashed Depor in the first-leg game, that means a 4-2-3-1 figure with Danish-Moroccan Karim Zaza at the goal. Steve Olfers, still sidelined with a hernia problem, therefore the defensive sector will be composed again by Danish international Kasper B?gelund at the right-back position, recent addition Kjetil W?hler and Australian Michael Beauchamp at the centre, while young Michael Jakobsen will perform at the left side.

In midfield, Kasper Risg??rd will be again on the bench, meaning the defensive duo will be composed by captain Thomas Augustinussen and Thomas Enevoldsen. Anders Due, who scored two of the three goals in the first game and that’s now the best European scorer on the season for AaB (3 goals), will play on the right wing, while Brazilian Cac?? will cover the left side. Ex-Wigan Andreas Johansson will be the playmaker in the formation, and the only doubt is who will be the lonely striker. Jamaican Luton Shelton was the starting choice at the Energi Nord Arena, but now coach Pehrsson might choose a more experienced attacker: Jeppe Curth. Forward that no matter his age -24- already completed 104 games with the squad scoring 33 goals

List of called players (19): Karim Zaza (1), Kenneth Stenild (30) (goalkeepers); Michael Jakobsen (2), Michael Beauchamp (4), Kjetil W?hler (5), Kasper B?gelund (16), , Lasse Nielsen (31) (defenders); Anders Due (7), Andreas Johansson (8), Thomas Augustinussen (9), Siyabonga Nomvethe (15), Caca (18), Kasper Risg??rd (21), Thomas Enevoldsen (23), Patrick Kristensen (27) (midfielders); Luton Shelton (11), Jeppe Curth (14), Marcus Tracy (19) and  Ronnie Schwartz (32) (strikers).

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Deportivo: Aranzubia -Piscu, Colotto, Z? Castro, Filipe - Antonio Tom??s, De Guzm??n, Verd?? - Lafita, Valer??n - Bodipo.
Aalborg: Zaza - Bogelund, Beauchamp, W?hler, Jakobsen – Augustinussen, Enevoldsen  - Due, Johansson, Caca – Shelton or Curth.
Referee: Alan Kelly (IRL)
Kick-off: 21h00 CET (Riazor)

ARCHIVE NEWS FEB/09

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