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PREVIEW: DEPORTIVO – ATLETICO (LIGA)

21 Nov 2009
Important game at the Riazor; Depor searches the consolidation at the top of la liga while Atletico wants to start adding some points. Lotina has recovery Riki and plans to play with Mista on the right wing, while Forlán might start on the bench.

STATISTICS: TWO OPPOSITE SITUATIONS
Depor is the team in Spain with more clean sheets achieved during the present season: eight (six in liga and two in Copa Del Rey), while Atletico Madrid is the worst team in this department with only two, which were achieved in Copa Del Rey against a Segunda B rival. This means that Atletico has leaked at least one goal in each one of the ten liga matches disputed so far, something that leaves the Madrilenian team as the worst defence at Primera División (22 goals allowed).

The poor defending is the main reason that explains why Atletico is currently living inside the relegation zone, with only seven points added and with only one victory achieved (2-1 Vs Zaragoza, matchday 06). Meanwhile, Depor is enjoying of a sweet moment: fifth in the table with nineteen points and having one of the best starts in its centenary history.

But there’s an interesting statistical fact: Deportivo has lost the last five liga confrontations against Atletico Madrid, including the last two held at the Riazor: 0-2 at the Calderón (season 2006/07, matchday 26), 0-3 at the Riazor (season 2007/08, matchday 18), 0-1 at the Calderón (season 2007/08, matchday 37), 1-4 at the Calderón (season 2008/09, matchday 11), and 1-2 at the Riazor (season 2008/09, matchday 30). To add that Depor also lost the final in this year’s Teresa Herrera against Atletico (1-1, decided in penalties).

DEPORTIVO: MISTA ON THE RIGHT WING
It seems that the right wing continues to be a problem for coach Miguel Angel Lotina. After only ten matchdays he already tested several options at that spot, including Riki, Mista, Adrian, Pablo Alvarez and more recently Juan Rodriguez, and for the clash against Atletico Madrid the coach is thinking of using a former Atletico’s striker on that position: Miguel Angel Ferrer ‘Mista’. The Murcian already played there during the visit to Tenerife (for ten minutes). Mista is also coming after a convincing presentation against Getafe, which included a goal scored and an assist.

But the main reason for this move is more related to the absence of Sergio at midfield and not for the skills of the striker performing as a winger. The Catalan is suspended, which is forcing Juan Rodriguez to move on to the centre. Riki was suspended too after the red card saw against Getafe, but the ban was lifted late on Friday and therefore the Madrilenian was picked for the occasion. However, on Friday’s training Lotina tested with Adrián and Lassad in attack. The Tunisian attacker missed the clash at Getafe due to injury reasons and now is fit and ready to take the playmaker’s role. Therefore, it isn’t known if Riki will enter into the plans for the game or if the coach will stay with the scheme tested in the training session. The offensive sector is completed with the presence of Mexican Andrés Guardado on the left wing.

Another of the novelties is to see Juan Dominguez in the list of picked players; it’s the second time that the Galician youngster is called for a liga game (the first one was against Real Madrid) though he will start sited on the bench. It was speculated that the Fabril’s youngster could be a starter, but the midfielder has been out within the last three games of Deportivo B due to a toe injury, though is now fit to play. Dominguez was picked in order to cover the casualties of Juca (thigh) and Sergio (suspended). In the end Antonio Tomás is the partner of Juan Rodriguez at midfield. Juan Dominguez is considered as one of the main promises for the club and still waiting to debut with the first team.

The only sector that won’t experience any chance is the defence. Daniel Aranzubia will stay at the goal. The Basque was doubtful due to a thigh injury, but by Friday he was feeling fine. Manuel Pablo will be covering the right-back position, while Brazilian Filipe Luis is adding minutes to his tally at the left side. The central positions will be for Catalan Albert Lopo and Argentine Diego Colotto.

Lotina is losing Juca, Bodipo and Angulo for injury reasons, plus the suspension of Sergio No matter that Lotina is recovering Riki, it is the first time on the season that Depor’s coach has so many casualties for a liga match (4). Depor’s coach is also recovering Zé Castro, the Portuguese central defender has surpassed an adductor problem.

It will be a special game for Mista, a striker that never succeeded during his stage at Atletico, the Murcian attacker respects the potential of the rival, “It will be special, because I will meet a lot of people that I love; the same team mates with whom I lived pretty moments at Atletico and that are now suffering due to their position in the table. I know Quique since my phase at Valencia and know that he will try to reinforce the team starting at the defensive line. Surely they will be reinforced and will improve the aspects that were failing with Abel. I’m sure this team has nothing to do with the one of two weeks ago.”

Guardado also talked before the game, for him it’s a complicate game despite the current status of Atletico Madrid, "They have a very solid squad, they are facing a tough moment but I don't trust in them, because they can awake at any moment. Besides, we haven't defeated them within the last two years, so it will be a very complicate match."

However, the Mexican winger is hoping to pick up the points in order to stay at the same height of the leaders in la liga, “The only reality is the points, and if we defeat them we will have a pretty advantage over them, though right now they aren’t the reference in the table, with all the respect. What we want is to pick up the point in order to be among Valencia, Sevilla, Mallorca… it’s not a matter of leaving ‘Atleti’ fifteen points under us.”

The other ex-Atlas player at Depor, Diego Colotto, said that the team is aware of the potential of the rival, "We will try to complete a solid game and return to the path of the victory at home. Atletico is a great team with great players, they aren't living a good moment, but still having those players. In a general sense, they have important players in attack. They have virtues and defects, and what we’ll try to do is to block their virtues and take advantage of their defects. " 

Lopo was also trying to be cautious ahead of the liga encounter, "They have defeated us lately and it's going to be tough. We must be serious at the back zone and try to clinch a clean sheet.” Similar were the thoughts of Adrian, “Atletico is a team that, no matter is in a difficult situation, can defeat you. Besides they feel comfortable playing at the Riazor and we need to be focused since the first minute, because any mismatch can cost us a goal.”

List of picked players (20): Aranzubia, Manu (goalkeepers); Laure, Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Adrián López 'Piscu', Lopo, Zé Castro, Filipe (defenders); Juan Domínguez, Antonio Tomás, Juan Rodríguez, Guardado, Pablo Álvarez, Iván Pérez, Valerón (midfielders); Lassad, Mista, Adrián and Riki (strikers).

ATLETICO: IS THE WORST OVER YET? This is one of the worst liga starts in the history of Atletico Madrid, the seven points added after ten matchdays represent the worst mark in more than two decades, even worse that the numbers had on the season 1999/00, campaign that marked the last relegation of Atletico to Segunda. However, there are signs that the worst has already passed. Starting with the arrival of coach Quique Sánchez Flores, who replaced Abel Resino a few weeks ago. 

The media believes that his arrival has changed the game of the team, something already demonstrated in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea for the UEFA Champions League, the convincing 8-0 series with Marbella in Copa Del Rey and the last thirty minutes of the liga encounter against Real Madrid (2-3). This last game is important for other reason: it was just the second time on the season in which Diego Forlán and ‘Kun’ Aguero scored a goal in the same game (the previous game was the 2-5 setback with Barcelona FC).

Now, the combination of both attackers means seven goals in liga for Atletico, the awakening of this deadly duo is considered as vital if the team wants to bounce back in the competition. To remember that this couple scored 49 goals on the past liga campaign, which represented the 61% of the goals conquered by Atletico on the liga competition and the second best record for a striking duo in Spain, just behind Messi and Eto’o (53). Also, to emphasise that, combined, Forlán and Aguero have scored four goals within the last four liga confrontations between Deportivo and Atletico Madrid.

However, the main thing that still to be improved is the defensive work. So far, Atletico has leaked goals in all the matches disputed in liga. Actually the Madrilenians are the worst defence in Spain with 22 goals allowed so far. An interesting stat is the numbers of offsides in favour, because 51 offsides have been whistled in favour of Atletico, which represents the highest mark at Primera (Depor has 24). The fact of having the worst defence and the highest number of offsides just demonstrates the slowness of Atletico’s defenders, something already emphasised by the newspapers.  And to add that Deportivo has scored at lest one goal within the last 13 liga matches played at the Riazor, the last time the Galicians ended scoreless at home was nine months ago (0-0 Vs Osasuna), which appoints that Atletico’s defensive line will be under pressure at the Riazor.

The main doubt ahead of the clash is Diego Forlán, the Uruguayan hasn’t trained with the team within the last two weeks since he was concentrated with his national team. The ex-Manchester United arrived until Friday and it’s speculated that he will start on the bench, which would cause the appearance of  José Manuel Jurado in the starting formation, something that would switch the figure from a 4-4-2 into a 4-2-3-1.

At least Quique Flores doesn’t have problems with the other stars at the team that were doubtful, including José Antonio Reyes (muscular problems), ‘Kun’ Aguero and Simao (both on international duty). The main casualty for the game is Czech international Tomas Ujfalusi, the defender has been feeling sick during the week and was left out of the list after not taking part of Friday’s training.

The exit of Ujfalusi means that Colombian Luis Amaranto Perea will cover the right-back position, which will open a space for Juan Gutiérrez Moreno ‘Juanito’ at the centre, the ex-Betis will join Pablo Ibáñez, while Antonio López will keep playing on the left side.

It is expected that Brazilian Paulo Assunção and ex-Osasuna man Raúl García will compose the double pivot figure at midfield, while Argentine Maxi Rodríguez will be attacking by the right wing. Alongside the condition of Forlán, the other doubt for the game is to know who will be playing on the left wing, the options for the spot are Portuguese Simao Sabrosa and ex-Sevilla José Antonio Reyes. Finally, Sergio Leonel Agüero will be in the attacking zone.

Before the game, left-back Antonio López was emphasising the importance of a victory at the Riazor, “The whole team is willing to take part on Saturday’s game, a match that we all want to win. For the moment we have washed away our previous image after the last games played against big teams. Now the important thing is to win some games and let’s see if we are able to clinch a few straight victories Right now we are focused on Saturday’s game against Deportivo, which we face with the clear intention of picking the points”

List of picked players (19): Asenjo, De Gea (goalkeepers); Valera, Antonio López, Juanito, Álvaro Domínguez, Perea, Pablo Ibáñez (defenders); Ignacio Camacho, Raúl García, Jurado, Maxi Rodríguez, Paulo Assunção, Reyes, Simão, Cléber Santana (midfielders); Forlán, Kun Agüero and Sinama-Pongolle (strikers).

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Atlético Madrid: (4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1) Asenjo - Perea, Pablo, Juanito, Antonio López - Maxi Rodríguez, Assuncao, Raúl García, Simao or Reyes - Forlán or Jurado, 'Kun' Agüero
Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Aranzubia - Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Lopo, Filipe - Juan Rodríguez, Antonio Tomás - Mista, Lassad, Guardado – Adrián or Riki.
Referee: José Luis Parada Romero
Kick-off: 18h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs Atletico: 25 wins for Depor, 17 draws, 40 wins for Atletico (Primera & Segunda) 
Record at the Riazor: 20 wins for Depor, 11 draws, 10 wins for Atletico (Primera & Segunda)

ARCHIVE NEWS NOV/09

ZAPPING

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