Squad news


18 Dec 2010
Last liga game in 2010 and it’s an important game as both teams try to elude the relegation zone; Lotina recovers Guardado and Riki, while Sporting will try to keep its unbeaten condition against Depor.

Sporting Gijón is living a deep crisis that means the worst moment since its last promotion to Primera División; and it’s that the Asturians haven’t achieved a win in liga within the last nine matchdays; actually the last and disappointing 1-1 draw against UD Levante was only good to cut a streak of four straight losses. Their last win in liga occurred on October 17 against Sevilla (2-0, matchday 7). Since then Sporting has just picked three points thanks to three draws, reason that explains why the team is penultimate in liga.

It seems an easy victim, however, Depor has faced problems in recent times when it faces Sporting, and it’s that the Galicians haven’t been able to defeat the Asturians since their last promotion to Primera División. Since the season 2008/09 Deportivo has only picked one draw against Sporting, while the other three matches meant a defeat for Lotina’s side, including a painful 0-3 loss at the Riazor two seasons ago. The last victory of Depor against its neighbor from Asturias occurred in the last matchday of the season 1997/98, with two goals from Bassir and one from Favio Conceicao (3-0).

To mention that Deportivo is searching for its fourth straight victory at home, mark only achieved once since the arrival of Lotina to the club, it happened on the season 2008/09 as the Galicians achieved the three points against RCD Espanyol (1-0, matchday 10), Athletic Bilbao (3-1, matchday 12), Malaga FC (2-0, matchday 14) and Recreativo (4-1, matchday 16). Currently, the streak of victories at home occurred against Espanyol (3-0, matchday 09), Malaga (3-0, matchday 12) and Hércules (1-0, matchday 04).

But maybe the most interesting fact is related to the set-pieces, because Depor is a specialist on it and Sporting is a usual victim of these kinds of plays; so far the Galicians have scored eight times in set-pieces, while the Asturians already allowed eight goals in these kinds of actions. Finally, to mention that at least 4,000 fans of Sporting are expected at the Riazor, reason why the local authorities have prepared a special plan in order to avoid the same fights witnessed during the past season.

Lotina’s Deportivo has added thirteen points within the last five liga matches, and nine of those points were conquered at the Riazor; clearly it’s the base for the recovery of the club. And to emphasize that currently Depor has a mark of 341 minutes without leaking a goal at home playing for la liga, the last goal allowed at the Riazor was the scored by Kalou Uche in the 0-2 setback against UD Almeria (matchday 05).

Since then Deportivo has conquered three straight home victories, and all of them without leaking a goal: 3-0 Vs RCD Espanyol (matchday 09), 3-0 Vs Malaga CF (matchday 12) and 1-0 Vs Hercules CF (matchday 14); it’s the second best mark for the team since the arrival of Lotina three seasons ago. The best mark of Depor with the Basque on board occurred within matchdays 30 & 38 of the season 2007/08 as the Galicians spent 392 minutes without leaking a goal playing at home, streak that also included three straight clean sheets.

Therefore, and despite that Depor needs the three points in order to elude the bottom places, Lotina will not change his strategy as he will still basing the style of playing in a strong defense using a 5-2-2-1 system, same scheme that has contributed to the resurrection of Deportivo and that also brings confidence to the players.

However and despite keeping the scheme, Depor’s coach is ready to make five changes compared to the team that disappointed at the Vicente Calderón. It is the biggest shake since the Basque man decided to switch to the system with five defenders. The entries are left-back defender Knut Rindarøy, striker Adrian, midfielder Rubén Pérez, left winger Andrés Guardado and Saul Fernandez; this last modification is caused for the last-minute casualty of Urreta, who had a fight with Antonio Tomás during the last training.
In this way the expected lineup is composed by Daniel Aranzubia at Depor’s goal; Manuel Pablo on the right-back position, Norwegian Rindarøy on the left sector, and a trio of central defenders composed by Diego Colotto, Albert Lopo and Aythami  Artiles. Lopo was sick during the week and in the beginning he will play, but Lotina explained that if the Catalan doesn’t feel well on Saturday’s morning, then Ze Castro will claim his spot and Rochela will be on the bench, but if the ex-Espanyol man is fine then the Portuguese will be on the bench and Rochela will fly to Madrid in order to play with Fabril –Depor B plays at the same hour in Leganés, Madrid-

Ruben Pérez is not anymore the player with more minutes on the liga season, because he didn’t play against Atletico and stayed with 1,147 minutes on the liga campaign, now Lopo (1,215) and Colotto  (1,211) are above him, but the Andalusian returns in order to perform alongside Juan Rodriguez at midfield territory. There was a lot of expectation about what can be offered by the duo of Jonathan Urreta and Andrés Guardado in the roles of playmakers plus the presence of Adrian in attack, but in the end it won’t be possible as the Uruguayan was left at home after the incident with Antonio Tomás.

Since the fight occurred in the last training session, Lotina decided to cover the spot at the right wing with Saul Fernandez, though Lotina assured during the press conference that he already had everything decided.

A lot was said about Manuel Pablo completing his game number 300 at Primera, but it should also be mentioned that this is the match number 100 for Adrian at the elite. The Asturian attacker was remembering his debut at the elite, “It was at Getafe, it was minute 15 of the second part and I think that I replaced Iaguito [Iago Iglesias]. But we lost 0-2. The true is that I wasn’t aware of my numbers of games in la liga, but knew that was close to reach that mark.”

Adrian is not the only Asturian at Depor’s team, actually there other three at the squad and all of them started their career at Sporting: Manu, Pablo Alvarez and Saul. Of this list only Saul will play, actually Pablo Alvarez was even left out of the list for the match.

Finally, Valerón was talking of the fact that Depor needs to be strong at the Riazor, “All the teams need to be strong at the Riazor, but we are conditioned by the bad start in liga, that’s why our main goal is to win the matches, because we need to take forward the situation. We will try to improve with the pass of the matches, and let’s see if we can improve outside home.”

List of picked players (20): Aranzubia Manu (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Laure, Rindarøy, Colotto, Aythami, Rochela, Lopo, Zé Castro (defenders); Juan Rodriguez, Juan Dominguez, Rubén Pérez, Andrés Guardado, Valerón, Saúl (midfielders); Riki, Lassad and Adrián (strikers).

This is the last liga matchday of the year and it must be said that Sporting Gijón is ending 2010 as the club with the lesser number of victories in the period: only six. They just won four times in the last part of the past season, and on the current campaign they have just clinched two victories. This is the worst mark among the 17 clubs that have played the full year at Primera División.

Beyond that, the Asturians have only scored 33 goals after 37 matches played in the year; that´s the second worst mark at Primera, precisely Deportivo has the worst scoring mark in 2010 with only 28 goals in favour. All of this explains that the negative streak lived by Sporting is not new as it’s coming from the second round of the past season, for this reason coach Manuel Preciado in under a big pressure as he has been accused of this downward spiral, it was even commented that he could be fired if Sporting losses this match.

Obviously the main headache for the Preciado is how to score some goals and pick up the needed points, so far he has tried of everything with the five strikers that he has at the team, and against Depor he will try a new choice as Nacho Novo will perform as the playmaker in the formation; the Galician attacker will play for the first time at the Riazor in la liga –he already did it with Galicia’s national team- and his expected that his partner in attack will be David Barral; the Andalusian still scoreless on this liga season.

In the end it’s expected a 4-2-3-1 figure, with Juan Pablo at the goal after surpassing the knock that he suffered against Levante, Madrilenian Alberto Lora will cover the right-back position, while the two central defenders will be Alberto Tomás Botía and Frenchman Grégory Arnolin; a doubt during the week was who will cover the left side at defense, the options were José Ángel and Roberto Canella, and in the end Preciado chose 21-year-old José Ángel for the job.

At midfield, former Villarreal player Sebastián Eguren and ex-Betis man Alberto Rivera will perform on the pivote tasks, Luanco-born Luis Morán will attack from the right wing,  Diego Castro will do it from the left, while Nacho Novo and Barral complete the attacking line. Ex-Atletico Miguel Ángel de las Cuevas, and for whom it was reported that Depor has a buyout option, will be sited on the bench.

Galician Diego Castro is on fire as he has scored twenty goals in liga within the two seasons and a half at the club, and three of them where against Depor. He was commenting the match with reporters, “Without doubt it’s a crucial match for us, because we need to change the current situation. If we end the year with a victory then it will reinforce our spirit for Christmas and will help us to face the last matches of the first round. We are holding to it. And Deportivo is a mirror for us, because they have clinched three or four straight wins; we know it’s difficult, but if they left behind that situation, then why can we do the same?” 
Midfielder Sebastián Eguren was the one that scored the equalizing goal against Levante, he was saying that the point added in the past match will only be worthy if they achieve something positive at the Riazor, “It’s always good to add, this no matter we made a pretty effort on the past game and deserved more. We must be positive and think that we have growth compared to the impression left in past matchdays. We need to make this point valid during the visit to the Riazor.”

Finally, striker Nacho Novo was targeting to conquer two straight victories in la liga and in this way avoid the relegation zone, ”If we are able to win two straight games then we will surely leave the bottom places. The standings are equal, so we must have confidence in our team. I do believe in our squad.”

List of picked players  (20): Juan Pablo, Raúl Domínguez (goalkeepers); Botía, José Ángel, Jorge, Ayoze, Gregory, Lora, Iván Hernández, Canella (defenders); Diego Castro, Luis Morán, Eguren, De las Cuevas, Rivera, Sergio Álvarez (midfielders); Bilic, Novo, Sangoy and Barral (strikers).

Deportivo: (5-2-2-1) Aranzubia – Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Aythami, Lopo, Rindarøy – Rubén Pérez, Juan Rodríguez – Saúl, Guardado - Adrian
Sporting: (4-2-3-1) Juan Pablo - Lora, Botía, Gregory, José Ángel - Eguren, Rivera – Luis Morán, Nacho Novo, Diego Castro –Barral
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
Kick-off: 18h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs. Sporting: 29 wins for Depor, 16 draws, 21 wins for Sporting (Primera & Segunda)
Record at the Riazor: 21 wins for Depor, 9 draws, 3 wins for Sporting (Primera & Segunda)



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