Competition news

PREVIEW: ESPANYOL - DEPORTIVO (LIGA)

14 Feb 2010
The second worst offensive line is facing the fifth best defence of la liga; Depor welcomes back the return of Guardado, while Espanyol wants to see a reaction after only winning three matches since November of the past year.

STATISTICS: THE SALVATION IS AT HOME
RCD Espanyol is the third worst visiting team in la liga with only five points added after ten matches played in this condition; and it’s that the Catalans have only won one game away from the Cornellá-El Prat stadium, and that match was the one played at the Riazor on matchday 03, actually the only three goals scored by Espanyol away from home are the ones conquered in La Coruña. These poor numbers invites to think that Los Periquitos need to win all the matches at home if they want to secure the permanence, currently they are just five points above the abysm.

To mention that Espanyol is the second worst scorer in la liga (14), only last place CD Xérez has scored a lesser number (12). And in this game the Catalans are facing the fifth best defensive line in the competition, because Depor has only allowed twenty-two goals, mark only improved by Barcelona (11), Real Madrid (15), Valencia (20) and Osasuna (21).

Also, Deportivo is having a good season playing away from home, with fifteen points added after ten visits, which leaves the Galicians at the fourth spot in this department. A thing to have in mind is that Depor has only allowed ten goals when it plays outside of the Riazor, mark only surpassed by Barcelona (4) and Real Madrid (9).

This is the first visit of Deportivo to the new Cornellá-El Prat stadium (named like that for been located between the municipalities of Cornellá de Llobregat and El Prat de Llobregat), but the previous visits to Espanyol weren’t so positive as the Galicians only achieved seven victories after thirty-seven matches, and to have in mind that the last two games played in Catalonia meant a defeat for Depor: 0-1 (2007/08) and 1-3 (2008/09).

DEPORTIVO: GUARDADO RETURNS
Coach Miguel Angel Lotina welcomes with open arms the return of left winger Andrés Guardado; the Mexican is one of the main offensive players at the Galician team as he is the best assistor (3) and the 20th player at Primera División in terms of crosses into the area (95). And that offensive power is what Depor needs in these dark moments in which the team is lacking players and ideas in attack, just to remember the fact that Lotina’s Deportivo didn’t complete any shot on target during the last game at Malaga –first time on the season that this situation occurs-.

Besides, Depor has only won once in la liga when the Mexican winger was out of the lineup (3-1 Vs Athletic Bilbao), without Guardado the team also achieved wins in the Copa clashes at Murcia and Sevilla (both 0-1). Meanwhile, with the Mexican aboard, Depor has won eleven games between liga and Copa plus has added three draws. The return of Mista was also expected for this game, but the doctors suggested to delay his comeback until next week, that’s why he wasn’t picked though the striker was already training at the same pace than his team mates.

Despite the importance of Guardado, coach Lotina will not use him for the full ninety minutes, this since the Basque man interprets that he is not physically prepared to endure for a full match. The main novelty for the game is the appearance of Iván Pérez at the starting eleven. Pablo Alvarez is suspended after been sent off against Malaga (the second appeal wasn’t accepted).

‘The Shark‘ performed in the playmaking function at La Rosaleda, and against Espanyol the role will be for Andalusian Juan Rodriguez, which opens a slot for El Ratoncito Pérez at the right wing. It is just the second time in which the Galician player appears at the starting eleven playing for la liga, the previous occasion was against Sevilla (matchday 07).

But on Friday Pérez said to reporters that he is not worried for not been a usual starter in his first year at the team, “To be part of the squad, entering into the lists for the games, and been a usual replacement already means a small step for my future, it is already a reward. I am not worried for not been playing as a starter. When they tell me that I will play, I will give everything; the same if I am a substitute and even can cheer up from the stands as I were on the pitch."

The offensive scheme is complemented with Rodolfo Bodipo in attack and with Adrián performing on the left wing, same positions they occupied against Malaga. It doesn’t seem to be a ‘powerful’ duo, especially for their current numbers. Bodipo hasn’t scored yet in liga while Adrián has only scored twice and drags with a drought of 824 minutes without scoring a goal, the last goal of the Asturian was against Barcelona FC (December 5)

At defence, Lotina will keep the scheme that clinched the clean sheet at La Rosaleda; with Dani Aranzubia at the goal; Manuel Pablo at the right-back position, Laureano Sanabria ‘Laure’ on the left, while Diego Colotto and Albert Lopo will be the centre backs. Once again the pivote couple will be composed by Antonio Tomás and Brazilian Juliano Antonello ‘Juca’.

Apart from Mista the other player still at the injury room are Sergio, Angulo, Filipe and Lassad, while central defender Adrián López ‘Piscu ‘ was discarded for technical reasons; also to appoint that two Fabril’s members are part of the list of picked players: midfielder Juan Dominguez and side defender Diego Seoane.

Albert Lopo, who started his career at Espanyol, was talking about the meeting, “To play against Espanyol is always special, but nothing more. It’s very important for us. In the first round they showed us how difficult the tournament was going to be, therefore now we need to win against the team that opened our eyes. It is going to be complicated, because lately they are fine at home.”

Later, the Catalan commented that the next three liga encounters are going to be crucial for Depor, “After the game with Espanyol we have to think that we will face Xérez, which is a must-win game at home, later we visit Villarreal. Those three games will mark what we can expect from the second round, which is to stay up there or to only fight for the permanence, always keeping our philosophy of going game after game and trying to clinch a clean sheet.”

Meanwhile Guardado said that he will miss the contribution of Filipe at the left side, ”It is going to be a rare comeback, to look back and not see that blonde hair behind me. We miss him, not just me but the whole team. It is going to be a matter of finding an understanding with the partner that will perform there, we must try to make a good job and to not miss Filipe so much.”

Finally, the Mexican commented on the solid season made by Depor so far, "No matter if we end in Europe or not, this team deservers to be recognized for its merits, for its dedication and will. We have suffered a lot of problems, a lot of injuries... and we still there. It will be good to crown it with a European place."

List of picked players (18): Aranzubía, Manu (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Laure, Lopo, Ze Castro, Colotto, Seoane (defenders); Antonio Tomás, Juca, Iván Pérez, Juan Domínguez, Guardado, Juan Rodríguez, Valerón (midfielders); Bodipo, Adrián and Riki (strikers)

ESPANYOL: MISSING A LEADER
The Catalans had a decent start in la liga, with thirteen points added within the first nine matchdays, but after it everything was a disaster, with five straight defeats between matchdays 10 and 14 and with only three victories added since November of 2009. The main problem is that the team coached by Mauricio Pochettino is clearly missing a leader on the pitch.

Starting with the fact that the best scorer at the team, Iván Alonso, has just added three goals to his tally, while the other strikers at the squad have barely appeared: Luis Garcia (2), José Callejón (1), Ben Sahar (1), Ferrán Corominas (1) and Raúl Tamudo (0). These poor numbers explain why the Catalan team is the second worst scorer at Primera División and also explains why the club’s official had to negotiate the arrival of Argentine Pablo Daniel Osvaldo during the winter window, the ex-Fiorentina already scored once after four matches at the team.

And Espanyol is also missing a ‘spiritual’ leader on the pitch; the tragic death of Daniel Jarque left the team without the leader of defence and Nicolás Pareja was forced to assume the role. At midfield Iván De la Peña has only performed for 159 minutes due to the injures and currently is out of action for a muscular problem on the right fibula, and in attack veteran Raúl Tamudo is at war against the club and will probably leave in the summer, his last game was on December 6 against Racing Santander.

To make things worse the new signings have been, in the major part, a total failure; Pochettino has admitted a lack of communication with Shunsuke Nakamura and the Japanese star has barely played (561 minutes on the liga season), left winger José Fernando Marqués is not convincing anyone and Pochettino has been forced to put a striker –Callejón- on that position, while Ben Sahar is considered promising, but at the same time ‘too young’, reason why he has only performed for 400 minutes on the liga season. Finally, defenders Juan Daniel Forlín and Iván Pillud have had opportunities, but didn’t convince the coach.

The only two good signings that have received some positive comments are ex-Depor midfielder Joan Verdú (1,396 minutes on the season, 2 goals scored) and striker José Miguel Callejón (1,425, 1 goal), but their numbers aren’t so impressive and aren’t prepared to carry out with the weight of the whole team.

For the game against Depor, Pochettino is recovering midfielder Moisés Hurtado (hamstring), Shunsuke Nakamura (ankle), plus defender Juan Forlín (muscular), while attacker Jose Maria Callejón returns after he couldn’t face Real Madrid due to a clause in his contract. At the same time Iván De La Peña is out after going trough surgery during the week in order to correct a muscular problem on his right fibula, also striker Ferran Corominas is out due to a hamstring problem sustained in Wednesday’s training, while ex-Boca Juniors Facundo Sebastián Roncaglia is suspended.

Despite the poor image left in the game against Real Madrid, the intention of Pochettino is to repeat the same 4-2-3-1 lineup, with a few modifications caused by the casualties. Carlos Kameni will stay at the goal, Francisco Chica is taking the spot of suspended Roncaglia at the right-back position, while Nicolás Pareja is able to repeat at the centre of the defence after surpassing a muscular problem sustained against the Madrilenians, his partner will be Víctor Ruiz Torre, one of the two Espanyol B players picked for the game (the other is right winger José Raúl Baena).

The left spot at defence will be for David García, who was linked with Depor during the past summer. Moisés Hurtado returns to claim the spot at the centre of the field, his partner will be Javier Márquez. The casualty of Corominas at the right wing will be covered by Luis García, while ex-Depor Joan Verdú will be the playmaker, Callejón is also returning and will play on the left wing, while it seems that Argentine Pablo Daniel Osvaldo will be the starting striker, though ex-Alavés Iván Alonso also has options to take the spot.

Francisco Javier Chica was emphasising the important of a victory on this match, “The most important thing is to add a victory against Deportivo La Coruña, which is our next rival at home. I believe that we even have the chance to be fighting alongside them. Later we have away matches against rivals at the bottom and it’s important to add the points.”

Meanwhile, Joan Verdú commented at Radio Onda Cero his impression about been facing his former club, “I am very content to see that things are fine for Deportivo, let’s hope that things will be the same starting on Sunday at 19h00. I’m sure they will end up in Europe. I believe that Depor is coming for the three points and it’s going to be a highly disputed game. They have casualties but either we have a few. We will have to work and fight and the side committing lesser errors is going to take the match.”

List of picked players (18): Kameni, Cristian Alvarez (goalkeepers); Forlín, Pareja, Víctor Ruiz, Iván Pillud, Francisco Chica, David García (defenders); Javi Márquez, Jose Fernando Marqués, Verdú, Moisés Hurtado, Baena (midfielders); Ben Sahar, Luis García, Osvaldo Iván Alonso and Callejón (strikers)

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Espanyol: (4-2-3-1) Kameni - Chica, Pareja, Víctor Ruiz, David García - Moisés Hurtado, Javi Márquez - Luis García, Verdú, Callejón – Osvaldo or Iván Alonso.
Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Aranzubia – Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Lopo, Laure – Antonio Tomás, Juca – Iván Pérez, Juan Rodríguez, Adrián – Bodipo.
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (9 games on the seasons, 3 wins for the visiting team)
Kick-off: 17h00 CET (Cornellá-El Prat)
Head-to-head Vs Expanyol: 30 wins for Deportivo, 16 draws, 29 wins for Espanyol (Primera & Segunda)
Record at Barcelona: 7 wins for Deportivo, 6 draws, 24 wins for Espanyol (Primera & Segunda)

ARCHIVE NEWS FEB/09

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