Squad news

PREVIEW: ATHLETIC – DEPORTIVO (LIGA, 20h00)

17 Apr 2009
Two different realities, Europe and the drop zone, but the same medicine: five changes in both lineups. That’s the background of the game that will be played at San Mam?s. Lotina is losing Lafita, Riki and Lopo, while Caparr??s is missing his two central defenders.

STATISTICS: ANOTHER RIVAL IN DEEP TROUBLE
For the third straight occasion, Deportivo is facing a rival coming from a negative streak and that needs the points. First it was Espanyol and later Atletico Madrid, and in both occasions Depor was defeated. Now it’s the time of Athletic Bilbao. The Basques are just three points above the drop zone and are arriving after suffering five defeats within the last six matchdays.

Actually, together with Numancia, Athletic Bilbao is the worst team of the second round with only eight points added in the period (two wins and two draws in eleven matches). Besides, Caparr??s’ team has leaked 51 goals on the liga season, that’s the third worst mark at Primera Divisi??n, only Sporting Gij??n (64) and Numancia (59) have allowed more.

Another thing to emphasise is that Deportivo hasn’t lost in its last four visits to San Mam?s, the Galician side clinched two straight 2-1 wins during the seasons 2004/2005 & 2005/2006, while the last two matches played there ended in a draw: 1-1 on the 2006/2007 campaign, and 2-2 on the past season. This last match is remembered by the fans as a tough confrontation, because several Depor’s players were facing gastric problems, including Manuel Pablo, man that at the middle of the game had to ask for permission to the referee in order to go to the bathroom. No matter this, the squad came back from a 0-2 score.

DEPORTIVO: FIVE CHANGES
Coach Miguel Angel Lotina is making five changes to the lineup ahead of the clash with Athletic Bilbao. It isn’t a ?revolution’ as it was said earlier in the week, because two of the modifications are occurring due to injury reasons. The main news is that the Basque trainer is losing offensive power for this game, because Riki (ankle) and Lafita (knee sprain) are both out injured. Together, this duo has scored the 33% of Depor’s goals in la liga (13 of 39 goals).

To make things worse, Lotina is also losing his leader in defence, because Albert Lopo is out for a couple of weeks due to a stress fracture in the Soleus muscle (knee). The Catalan is Depor’s defender with more minutes on the liga season (2,474), and his absence will be highly missed, especially trying to counteract the aerial power of Athletic (Llorente and Javi Martinez are both taller than 1.9 metres, and each man has scored four goals with the head on the liga season).

On Friday, Lotina tested with Pablo Amo and Z? Castro at the centre of the defence, but in the end he decided to play with the Portuguese and with Argentine Diego Colotto. This is the first time that both men will play together in la liga. Meanwhile, Daniel Aranzubia returns to San Mam?s in order to play his first game at the Cathedral since he left Athletic, he will be the goalie, while the defence line will be completed with Laure at the right-back position and Filipe Luis on the left.

Before the start of the game, Colotto was emphasising the aerial power of Athletic, ?They have a very solid aerial game. Obviously it is something we should have in mind, but the coach is who decides the best option. I always work thinking that I can be at the starting squad. I am fine and I feel prepared for the Spanish league. When I played, I was always fine.?

More changes are occurring in midfield, because Antonio Tom??s is returning in order to play alongside Juan Rodriguez. It’s the first appearance for the Cantabrian since he got injured against Numancia (matchday 25) and now he will be a starter. It is a more offensive option compared to the duo Juan-Rodriguez-De Guzman used against Atletico Madrid, this time the Canadian was not even picked by Lotina for the match against the Basques.

In attack, Lotina will try to compensate the absences of Lafita and Riki with Pablo Alvarez and Bodipo. ?The Shark’ was the revulsive in the last minutes against Atletico, while the Guinean attacker entered to score the lonely goal of Depor. Alvarez will cover the right wing, but Bodipo will be on the bench, because Lotina will give a new chance to Lassad Nouioui as starter. Depor’s coach thinks the characteristics of the Tunisian fits with Athletic, while he announced that Bodipo will be a starter against UD Almeria due the same reasons.

The formation is completed with the presence of Andr?s Guardado on the left wing and Joan Verd?? in the playmaking function. The Mexican seems to be recovering his old form lately, while the Catalan is replacing Valer??n after been suspended from the last game played at the Riazor.

Manuel Pablo and Mista are joining Riki, Lopo and Lafita at the injury room. However, the Canarian is already fit to play, what happens is that Lotina is reserving him due to precautions reasons. More complicate is the case of Mista as it isn’t known yet if the Murcian attacker will be able to play in the remaining games of the season.

Juan Rodriguez was talking before the game about the difficulty of the confrontation, ?It will be a complicated game, they have a good team and it is difficult. Now they are at the bottom of the table and also inside the final of Copa Del Rey. We are going there for a good result and if we can, for the three points. We have spent four games without adding points, this without taking in mind the draw with Betis. We need to recover the level of game that was giving us the good results."

Meanwhile, Guardado was assuring that the squad is not missing intensity in recent games, ?Within the group, we are convinced that nobody is thinking about the holidays or next year, but we're stuck in the goal of being in Europe. Only three points are separating us from those positions and we cling to it. We’ve received the call of the coach asking for more intensity. If everybody understands this at an individual level, we will be able to reach our goals.? The Mexican also talked about his future, "I am being taken out of Deportivo since the day I arrived. Then, people talked that I was just coming for a moment. I know the reality of my situation; I am very happy and would like to stay another year or to meet my contract. I don’t think about leaving.?

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

ATHLETIC BILBAO: DISTRACTED BY THE COPA
The Basques are just three points above the drop zone and have lost five of the last six liga matches, but despite the danger is approaching Athletic, all the attention of the fans is focused on the final in Copa Del Rey. The Basque club doesn’t win the Copa tournament since the year 1984 and there’s a lot of excitement ahead of the final against Barcelona FC, so much that the socios have been more worried about the draw held by the club in order to distribute the tickets for the final than by the liga game with Deportivo.

Ahead of the game, there are two similarities between Depor and Athletic: both sides are completing five changes compared to the previous game, and both coaches are facing troubles at the centre of the defence. Like is happening at Deportivo, coach Joaquin Caparr??s is forced to play with a couple of central defenders that never performed together in the past, this because Aitor Ocio and Fernando Amorebieta are both suspended for the encounter. For this reason, Ustaritz Aldekoaotalora (25) and Xabier Etxeita (21) will be starters against Depor, the first player already has three seasons of experience at Primera, but the second just made his debut on November 16 of the past year (against Osasuna).

In order to cover the casualties in defence, Caparr??s has also called youngster Eneko B??veda from Bilbao Athletic. The defensive line is completed with Gorka Iraizoz at the goal, Andoni Iraola at the right-back position and Koikili Lertxundi at the left side. No matter the situation of Athletic, Iraola is having a very strong season, with 27 games played in liga and with five goals scored in the competition.

Solid has been also the performance of youngster Javi Mart?nez, the 20-year-old midfielder has also scored five goals in liga and his name has been linked with a €13 million move to Liverpool FC during the upcoming summer market. He will play alongside Pablo Orbaiz at midfield territory.

Ex-Osasuna David L??pez is returning from a muscular problem and will play at the right wing; he missed the game against his former club and will be replacing Markel Susaeta in that position. In the left sector, veteran Fran Yeste will be covering the spot.

In attack, Fernando Llorente will be the main reference for Caparr??s, while Ion V?lez surpassed a thigh injury and will replace youngster Gaizka Toquero as the second striker in the formation. V?lez has had big participation in the lineups of Caparr??s, so far he accumulates 22 liga games (1,289 minutes) and already added two goals to his tally. But all the eyes will be upon Llorente as he’s the Pichichi at the squad with eleven goals scored in liga.

Llorente was talking about the importance of this confrontation, "This match is vital for us and that’s why we have to face it with the highest possible intensity. We must be very close to each other, very attentive and biting. They should see from the beginning they have nothing to do in the game.? He was also warning about the level of the rival, ?If Depor is there, fighting for the UEFA, it is because they deserve it and have a great team. It is a very hard rival, and although they aren’t having the best results, is very competitive. It also has many players that can screw things to you at any time."

List of called players (18): Iraizoz, Armando (goalkeepers); Koiikili, Ustaritz, Iraola, Etxeita, B??veda (defenders); Gurpegi, David L??pez, Garmendia, Yeste, Susaeta, Orbaiz, Javi Mart?nez (midfielders); Toquero, Llorente, Etxeberria and Ion V?lez (strikers).

 PROBABLE LINEUPS
Athletic: Iraizoz - Iraola, Ustaritz, Etxeita, Koikili - David L??pez, Orbaiz, Javi Mart?nez, Yeste - Ion V?lez, Llorente.
Deportivo: Aranzubia - Laure, Colotto, Z? Castro, Filipe - Antonio Tom??s, Juan Rodr?guez - Pablo ?lvarez, Verd??, Guardado - Lassad.
Referee: Carlos Clos G??mez (14 matches on the season, 4 wins for the visitor)
Kick-off: 20h00 (San Mam?s)
Head-to-head Vs Athletic: 29 wins for Depor, 22 draws, 26 wins for Athletic (Primera)
Record at San Mam?s: 8 wins for Depor, 11 draws, 19 wins for Athletic (Primera)

ARCHIVE NEWS APR/09

ZAPPING

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