Competition news


03 Jan 2010
Depor searches to start 2010 with a victory that will confirm its Champions League aspirations; Riki returns but Lotina will keep the same squad that faced Valencia. The rival is coming in its worst moment, with an internal crisis and with problems inside the squad.

Without doubt the worst moment of Real Zaragoza in the liga campaign, Los Maños have only added one of the last eighteen points in dispute and have allowed thirteen goals within the last four liga encounters, for that reason they are currently inside the relegation zone and represent the worst defensive line at Primera División with thirty-five goals received (average of 2.33 per match).

Meanwhile Deportivo could be occupying the sixth spot in the table, but this is the lowest point for Lotina’s team on the season as it only added two of the last nine points in dispute. The start of the liga campaign was similar, with two defeats within the first three matchdays (2-3 at Real Madrid and 2-3 Vs RCD Espanyol), but in the middle the Galician squad was able to defeat Malaga at the Riazor (1-0).

However, Depor still presenting impressive numbers when it plays outside home, so far the squad has clinched four wins and one draw after seven visits, which represents the fifth best record at Primera, only surpassed by Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia. Meanwhile, Zaragoza has shown an erratic performance at home, with 3 wins achieved in this condition (1-0 Vs Tenerife, 3-0 Vs Getafe and 2-0 Vs Almeria), but also with three setbacks (1-2 Vs Valladolid, 0-1 Vs Osasuna and 1-2 Vs Athletic Bilbao).

Finally, to emphasise that La Romareda has always been a positive visit for Deportivo; the Galicians already achieved eight wins there playing for Primera plus one at Segunda División. The last win at La Romareda occurred on the season 2003/04 (1-0), which was followed by three straight draws (2-2 2004/05, 1-1 2005/06 and 1-1 2006-07), and later by the last-minute defeat on the 2007/08 campaign.
Coach Miguel Angel Lotina is recovering Riki for the liga game at Zaragoza and the Copa clash with Valencia, but the Basque man will not make any change to the team that played the last game of 2009 at the Riazor, because the Madrilenian striker is not yet at 100%. Tunisian Lassad Nouioui was also included in the list, but it was in order to accelerate his match fitness for next Sunday’s game with Osasuna.

Twenty players are traveling to Zaragoza, because the trip will be extended with the midweek’s visit to Valencia for Copa Del Rey, therefore the coaching staff decided to travel will all the available players, including Lassad, who is near to return and could play some minutes in the home match against Osasuna. The four players at the injury room are the ones that stayed in A Coruña: Angulo, Mista, Bodipo and Juca. Of this quartet, only Juca and Bodipo have chances to play against the Navarrans during next Sunday. 

Lotina announced that the lineups to be used at La Romareda and Mestalla are going to be very similar, actually the starting eleven that will face Zaragoza is the same one of the previous goalless game against Valencia. With Dani Aranzubia at the goal; Manuel Pablo at the right-back position, Filipe Luis at the left sector, while Albert Lopo and Diego Colotto will play at the centre of the defence.

At midfield, Sergio and Antonio Tomás will occupy the pivote spots; Juan Rodriguez will keep playing on the right wing, Andrés Guardado will attack from the left flank, Juan Carlos Valerón will be the playmaker and Adrián the lonely attacker.

Riki is aware of the current crisis at Zaragoza, that’s why he thinks that a goal for Depor would be very important, “If we start winning, then the pressure can affect the rival, and the public can be all over them.” Later he was talking about his problems with the referees, “They watch the videos, follow each player and analyse the past games, including the ones in which there were polemic plays, I hope it will be useful. I don’t want new problems with the referees. This is my way of playing and I just want the best for my team.”

Meanwhile, Diego Colotto knows that the match could be a trap, "We are going there thinking of the three points. The situation lived by Zaragoza isn't easy, but we can't rely on it, because the situation was similar at Almeria and we had big difficulties over there. We must be prepared to face the difficulties that we are going to find on this match. If we can score first, maybe then we will be able to manage the anxiety of the rival, but until we break the deadlock, both teams will have a chance."

Finally, midfielder Antonio Tomás was feeling satisfied for been part of the coach’s plans within the last months, “Everybody wants continuity and I hope I won’t lose it this time. It’s true that since I surpassed my injury, I have been playing a lot and I think things are working for me. Now I hope to keep playing and grow at this club.”

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

The poor results in December cost the job to former coach Marcelino Iglesias, and during this week to the whole board of directors, including ex-president Eduardo Bandrés. Now, major shareholder Agapito Iglesias is taking full power of the club in the attempt to save the team from a new relegation to Segunda. He is searching for reinforcements in the winter market and his first ‘solution’ was to confirm ex-Zaragoza B trainer José Aurelio Gay as the head coach of the first team, this despite of the 0-6 defeat at the Bernabéu. All of this seems to be the response to the erratic behaviour of the club within the last years and it looked like things were starting to be calm again.

However, the ‘earthquake’ has continued inside the changing room; on Saturday Aurelio Gay confirmed that he left veterans Roberto Ayala and Ewerthon out of the game, because both have their minds “outside of the club”. To make things worse, the other central defender at the team, Francisco Pavón, is out with a back injury, while youngster Víctor Laguardia, who was going to be the substitute of Ayala, suffered a serious knee injury in the last training. These problems demonstrate that the spirit inside the changing room is low and that the new coach is trying to shake the things up in order to witness a reaction.

In the end Aurelio Gay has prepared a new scheme: an offensive 4-3-3 that’s trying to seize the offensive potential of the team. Several modifications are expected to occur in the starting eleven, starting with the presence of Juan Pablo Carrizo at the goal, the Argentine is replacing López Vallejo, who swallowed six goals in the last game at the Bernabéu.

At defence, Brazilian Carlos Diogo will keep playing at the right-back position after been kidnapped in his country during the past week, while ex-Getafe Javier Paredes is staying on the left. The novelties are at the centre, with Pavón and Ayala out, now the couple will be composed by veteran Rubén Pulido and 21-year-old rookie Raúl Goni Bayo. Pulido has played nine games on the season (809 minutes), while Goni has just completed three appearances (286 minutes).

The trio in midfield will be composed by Colombian Abel Aguilar, Argentine Leonardo Ponzio and former Racing Santander player Jorge López. Aguilar is the Pichichi of the team with four goals scored so far, while Jorge López has scored two and is the only player at the team that has participated in all the previous fifteen matchdays (1,238 minutes).

About the trio in attack, the doubt is who will cover the left side, the options are Ander Herrera and ex-Liverpool Jermaine Pennant, while the equation will be completed with the ex-couple of Depor: Angel Lafita on the right and Javier Arizmendi at the centre. Lafita has scored one goal after ten presentations with the Aragonians, while Arizmendi has three in twelve matches.

Colombian Abel Aguilar knows that this is an important moment for his team, as he said before the game, “This is the moment, our big opportunity to solve our problems. We must go out to win the match without any fear; we must go out for everything.”

Meanwhile, ex-Depor Javier Arizmendi was having a similar speech, “There is no euphoria, but hope at the changing room. We have to win yes or yes, it's a vital match for us and the good thing is that we are hopeful. We can’t allow spending more matchdays without winning and picking the three points.”

Finally, Lafita was assuring that this is a special game for him, “It won’t be one more game for me, and is because this match is very special, because I spent two wonderful years in La Coruña and I keep good memories. The only thing is that I didn’t left Deportivo as I wanted, and I already said this. It is true that both teams are living opposite moments, but I do not regret and we can only look forward. They are a serious team and have demonstrated it within the last years, they are strong in defence and are taking advantage of the opportunities, because they have fast people in attack.”

List of picked players (19): López Vallejo, Carrizo (goalkeepers); Goni, Pulido, Paredes, Diogo, Mickael Gaffour (defenders); Gabi, Ponzio, Jorge López, Abel Aguilar, Babic, Ander, Lafita, Pennant (midfielders); Arizmendi, Braulio, and Álex Sánchez (strikers)

Zaragoza: (4-3-3) Carrizo - Diogo, Pulido, Goni, Paredes - Aguilar, Ponzio, Jorge López - Pennant or Herrera, Arizmendi, Lafita.
Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Aranzubia – Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Lopo, Filipe – Sergio, Antonio Tomás – Juan Rodríguez, Valerón, Guardado – Adrián.
Referee: Eduardo Jesús Iturralde González
Kick-off: 17h00 CET (La Romareda)
Head-to-head Vs Zaragoza: 23 wins for Depor, 15 draws, 20 wins for Zaragoza (Primera & Segunda)
Record at La Romareda: 9 wins for Depor, 6 draws, 14 wins for Zaragoza (Primera & Segunda)



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