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REVIEW: DEPORTIVO 1 – BARCELONA 1 (LIGA)

30 May 2009
There was no miracle, Depor was close to defeat triple champion Barcelona, but again a last-minute goal cost points to the Galicians. However the win would have been worthless because Valencia won its game. But the effort done by Depor was good anyway.

BEFORE THE GAME
Lotina chose to play with Juan Carlos Valer??n instead of Verd?? in the playmaking function, El Flaco played his game number 210 at Primera wearing Depor’s shirt. Pablo ?lvarez and Guardado were performing on the wings, while Bodipo was the lonely striker. Lassad, who joined the list for the game after three weeks out, was left out of the match since Depor’s coach picked 20 men for the match and two had to be ruled out, the other discarded player was Piscu.

There were a lot of surprises at Barcelona, starting with the presence of Samuel Eto’o in the formation, it was informed the Cameroonian wasn’t part of the trip to La Coru?a, but surprisingly he joined the team later and decided to fight for the Pichichi trophy. Xavi, Pique and Yaya Tour? were the other surprises that were part of the match.

FIRST HALF
The presence of Xavi in midfield marked the match and he was the centre of the game practiced by the Catalans. Barcelona was having the ball possession during the first part, mainly because it was putting a hard pressure in midfield, but it was Deportivo the side that had the best opportunities to score the goals. All started with a cross of Guardado that Juan Rodriguez headed out just when the Andalusian was alone inside the area (7’).

In the next play, Guardado missed the target after a good pass coming from Bodipo, the Mexican was alone against Pinto and the ball went over the crossbar. The game was very entertaining, basically because the ball wasn’t spending too much time in midfield. Barcelona was trying to move the ball across the pitch and searching to assist Eto’o and Bojan, meanwhile Depor was speculating with the counterattack.

A good demonstration of this situation was the counterattack started by Depor at minute 14, the sequence was begun by Guardado and Pablo ?lvarez was near to score after eluding Toure inside the area, but Pinto made the save. Quickly, Barca played the ball and Eto’o was close to break the tie with a drilling shot that Aranzubia sent to corner.

Barcelona continued having the ball possession, and Deportivo was feeling comfortable with the situation as Lotina’s men were taking advantage of the holes at Barcelona’s defence to create the best opportunities, always leaded by Valer??n, the illuminated man on the pitch. At the 20th minute, Bodipo had a clear chance as he received a drilling cross from Manuel Pablo, then the ex-Alav?s striker tried to cross Pinto, but his effort just passed near the far post.

The best opportunities for the visitors came at the 30th minute, first Keita surprised with a drilling shot that hit Z? Castro first and that went out close to the post. Then Hleb made a play in which he assisted Eto’o, but the ex-Mallorca marksman missed the target from close-range.

And just when Barca seemed to be awakening, Deportivo scored the first goal of the match. Again the play was started by Guardado on the left wing, the Mexican sent a cross that was deflected by a rival and that neither Piqu? nor Sylvinho couldn’t deflect, and Rodolfo Bodipo came from behind to score the goal with a downward header. It is his fifth goal in liga and the seventh in all the competitions.

Eto’o, who needed two goals to tie Diego Forl??n in the quest for the Pichichi trophy, was looking desperate to add more goals to his tally, his hysteria just made easier Depor’s work at defence, because he was usually trying to face two or three rivals at the same time and was losing the ball. One of the best chances for Barcelona in the last part of the first half was a shot of Sylvinho that went close to the crossbar (36’).

And Depor was close to double the advantage as Valer??n appeared to put a precise pass to Sergio at the edge of the area, and then the Catalan released a strong shot that hit the crossbar (42’). El Flaco was one of the reasons to explain why Deportivo was having the best chances while Barcelona was having the ball; the vision of the Canarian was the guide that Depor’s midfield needed for the occasion. The first half ended with a clear chance for the Catalans. Xavi appeared to chip the ball to Hleb, but the ex-Arsenal preferred to help Eto’o in his quest for the Pichichi and attempted a short past instead of firing on target, in the end Filipe intercepted the pass.

SECOND HALF
Things were the same at the start of the second half, because Deportivo was having the best chances to score. The first one was for Valer??n after receiving a short pass from Guardado during a play started by Manuel Pablo on the right side, in the end the Canarian released a volley that Pinto saved (50’). The difference on this half was to see Deportivo having the ball possession. Barcelona preferred to wait at its area and wasn’t putting the same pressure in midfield compared to the first part.

Then both sides pressed the accelerator and started to enjoy of countless opportunities to score the goals, but everybody was missing the chances. First it was Eto’o, who missed again as his effort, after a pass from Xavi, was controlled between Filipe and Aranzubia. Then at minute 57, Guardado was close to score as he headed a free-kick of Sergio, but Pinto stopped the ball. In the next play Bojan eluded Manuel Pablo at Depor’s right side, but his crossed shot went wide. 

The ?rain’ of missed opportunities continued after Lafita replaced Pablo Alvarez, he was playing his last game with Depor, and immediately the Aragonian missed a clear chance as he was left alone against Pinto, but instead of assisting Bodipo he released a right-foot shot that missed the target (63’). In the next play Z? Castro sent out a corner from Sergio. Then Riki entered to replace Bodipo.

Later the game lost the pace of the first minutes, both sides seemed willing to end the season as soon as possible and the clear occasions to  score were now more scarce, specially after Xavi and Valer??n were replaced by Abraham and Verd??. Valencia was defeating Athletic Bilbao at Mestalla and the European dream of Depor was fading away. At minute 79, Eto’o missed again the target after he headed a cross of Abraham, it seemed the Cameroonian international would leave the Riazor scoreless.

Seven minutes before the end, Guardado had again a one-to-one play against Pinto after collecting a pass from Juan Rodriguez, and again the ex-captain of Celta saved Barcelona as he stopped his left-foot effort (84’). It seemed Depor would achieve a deserved win, but in the last minute the lonely distraction at Depor’s defence allowed Barcelona to tie the actions. The play was started by Bojan as the youngster chipped the ball to leave Samuel Eto’o alone against Aranzubia, the African striker just controlled the ball with the chest and defeated the Basque keeper with a strong shot.

It was the 13th goal for Eto’o against Depor, one of the most lethal strikers that Deportivo has faced at Primera Divisi??n, however it wasn’t enough to catch Diego Forl??n, who ended as the Pichichi of la liga and European Golden Boot after he scored once against Almeria taking his tally to 32 goals on the liga campaign.

AFTER THE GAME
Deportivo wasted too many opportunities and allowed Barcelona to pick up a point that never deserved. The Galicians made a nice effort and enjoyed of the best opportunities, but the locals forgave and Eto’o didn’t miss the last chance he had. It is the second straight time that Lotina’s team loses points in the final minute after the same thing happened one week ago at Sevilla. No matter what, the effort made by the team on this game and throughout the season is plausible. The fans at the Riazor even jumped to the grass after the final whistle and congratulated the players.

There was no miracle, Valencia achieved a comfortable win at Mestalla over Caparr??s’ Athletic Bilbao (2-0) and Depor is ending la liga in the seventh place. Just one step down the European zone, but leading the so called ?teams from the other league ? zone. The players will now enjoy of their period of vacations and will return to train at the middle of July.

MATCH STATISTICS
Deportivo: Aranzubia - Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Z? Castro, Filipe Luis - Sergio, Juan Rodr?guez - Pablo ?lvarez (Lafita 59’), Valer??n (Verd?? 81’), Guardado – Bodipo (Riki 69’).
Barcelona: Pinto - C??ceres, Tour?, Piqu? (Bot?a 65’), Sylvinho – Sabih (Abraham 78’), Gudjhonsen, Keita - Hleb, Bojan, Eto´o.
Referee: Luis Median Cantalejo. He showed yellow card to Bojan (42’) and Sergio (53’)
Goals: 1-0 (30’) Bodipo, 1-1 (90’) Eto’o
Venue: Riazor (35,000)
Other statistics: Ball possession (36% - 64%); Total shots (15 - 18); Shots on target (6 - 5); Saves by the keepers (2 - 4); Corner-kicks  (7 - 5); Offsides (8 - 2); Fouls committed (16 - 5); Accuracy in the passes (85.71% - 85.91%)

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