Squad news


02 Jan 2011
Depor starts 2011 with a tough calendar in January; and all begins with the visit to San Mamés; Laure will be a starter, while Lotina has to choose between Lassad and Valerón. At Athletic, Fernando Llorente is doubtful.

Athletic Bilbao has the sixth best mark playing at home on the Primera season; this is the main reason why the Basques are currently 8th at the standings, just one point below the European zone. And it’s that Athletic has won six of its eight home matches played until this stage of the campaign, including a mark of five straight wins at San Mamés. So far only Atletico Madrid (1-2, matchday 02) and FC Barcelona (1-3, matchday 05) have achieved a positive result in Bilbao.

Meanwhile, Depor is only the 15th best visitor at Primera División with only three positive results after eight visits. So far the Galicians have only added points in the visits to Sevilla FC (0-0, matchday 02), Levante UD (2-1, matchday 10) and RCD Mallorca (0-0, matchday 11). Actually, the win at the Ciutat de Valencia was the only liga victory that Deportivo achieved playing away from the Riazor during the whole 2010.

At least Depor can presume that it has only lost one of the last six matches played at San Mamés; that setback occurred on the past season (0-2), more precisely it was the first and only win achieved by Caparrós over his former team since he moved to Bilbao three years ago. Since the last promotion of Depor to Primera the Galician team has visited Bilbao in nineteen opportunities and it won six of those games, while it also achieved six draws.

Miguel Ángel Lotina is introducing an important modification on his starting eleven; it’s the entry of right-back defender Laureano Sanabria ‘Laure’ to the squad. The reason is that Knut Rindarøy has foot blisters and therefore the Norwegian is a last-minute casualty for the trip to San Mamés.

For this reason Manuel Pablo is moving his position to the left and Laure is entering into the starting squad at the right side of the defence; the Madrilenian has only played three liga games on this season, and this is his first appearance as starter since the 0-3 defeat at Real Sociedad (October 25). Depor’s coach had the chance to pick Diego Seoane for the game, but he preferred to keep him at Depor B, but the Galician youngster will probably be picked again for the Copa clash with Córdoba.

Other doubt that Lotina has is related to the position of playmaker performing towards the left wing; the Basque coach said that he is thinking in putting Adrian on that spot, but also admitted the possibility of using Juan Carlos Valerón on that function, the Canarian was a starter and impressed in the past liga game against Sporting Gijón.

Another of the novelties is that Juan Dominguez is staying at the starting eleven, while Juan Rodriguez will return to play on the right wing, a position that he usually covered on the past season, but that will fulfill for the first time on this campaign, at least as a starter.

In the end Lotina is presenting a 5-2-2-1 formation; with Aranzubia at the goal, Laure at the right-back position, Manuel Pablo at the left, while Lopo, Colotto and Aythami will perform at the centre of the defence. Juan Dominguez and Rubén Pérez will appear at midfield, Juan Rodriguez will perform on the right, Valerón or Adrian will do it on the left , and depending on this last decision Lassad could be the central forward. If El Flaco is a starter, then Adrian will surely be the striker in the formation.

It calls the attention that Lotina is leaving in A Coruña two of the three natural wingers that were available for the game: Yves Desmarets and Saul Fernandez. The only one in the list of picked players is Pablo Álvarez. Together with Rindarøy there are other five players staying at the injury room: Michel, Guardado Riki, Urreta and Ze Castro, the last two are out of the game due to illness (flu). The good news is that Juca was picked for the first time since November and as the Brazilian has surpassed a muscular injury.

The games against at San Mamés are always special for Daniel Aranzubia, the ex-Athletic goalie was commenting the issue, “It’s always special to return to San Mamés. It is a complicate game, the first on the year and it is a tough stadium. Athletic is strong at San Mamés, besides they are coming after drawing with Barca at the Camp Nou, so they have confidence , but it’s also true that they will be thinking of the returning leg that they have to play three days later.”

Manuel Pablo was also commenting the meeting, “It is a strong rival, a team that has the support of the fans when it plays at home, and we can’t commit a mistake throughout the ninety minutes, because they never surrender and must have tension. I don’t think they will be distracted by the Copa, because they will give the same importance to both matches as they play at home.”

Finally, Diego Colotto was assuring that Depor is preparing the game thinking that Fernando Llorente will be a starter, “We are training thinking that we are going to face the best of Bilbao. We will try to have the needed pace after the Christmas break and also to clinch a victory.”

List of picked players (18): Aranzubia, Manu (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Laure, Rochela, Colotto, Lopo, Morel, Aythami (defenders), Juan Dominguez, Juca, Valerón, Juan Rodriguez, Antonio Tomas, Ruben Perez, Pablo Alvarez (midfielders), Adrian and Lassad (strikers).

Coach Joaquín Caparrós is pending on the fitness of striker Fernando Llorente in order to build up his starting eleven; the Navarran is still dragging a muscular problem and hasn’t trained with the team during the week; he will pass a late test on Sunday and his presence will determine the composition of the squad that will face Deportivo.

And it’s that Llorente is a very importance piece in the scheme of Caparrós as he has scored ten of the twenty-five goals of Athletic in la liga, reason why he is 4th at the list of Pichichis at Primera División. If the marksman is fit to play, then Caparrós will use a 4-4-2 draw, but if not then he will probably use the same 4-2-3-1 figure used in Copa against Barcelona 

It was highly speculated that the ex-Depor coach was going to reserve some men for midweek’s clash against the Catalans, but in the end it won’t happen as Athletic prefers to target the European zone rather that advancing in Copa Del Rey.

Gorka Iraizoz will be at the goal, Andoni Iraola will keep playing on the right-back position, while Koikili Lertxundi will be at the left side. Mikel San José had flu symptoms during the week, but now he is fit to play and will perform alongside Fernando Amorebieta at the centre of the defence, this last player is returning after surpassing an ankle sprain.

Carlos Gurpegi and Javi Martinez will be the two pivotes on the formation, while Markel Susaeta will attack from the right wing and Igor Gabilondo will do the same on the left, the San Sebastián-born winger is the second best scorer at the team with five goals in liga.

If Llorente is fit to play then he and Gaizka Toquero will compose the attacking line at the team, but if he doesn’t pass the late test then Caparrós will put a playmaker in the formation, role that could be for 21-year-old Ander Iturraspe, who has just been a starter in one opportunity during the present liga campaign. 

Side defender Andoni Iraola was warning of Depor’s potential, “It isn’t a good moment to face Deportivo, because they are fine and is now a stronger team compared to the start of season. They had a lot of problems at the start, they were allowing goals and weren’t able to score. Now they have tested the tactical scheme of the five defenders and it brought good results, they are feeling save now. They will try to cut our attacking line and it won’t be easy. Depor gave problems to us in past occasions and surely we will have to do the right things.”

Similar were the thoughts of midfielder David López, “It is going to be complicated; within the last games it has been very difficult for us to add the three points and against Depor it will be more of the same. They play with five men at the back zone, so they will be prepared and it’s complicated to create danger against them.”

List of picked players: The website of Athletic informed that all the available players are picked for the game, Caparrós  will inform of the discards until minutes before the kick-off, this since he wants to check first the fitness of Llorente.

Athletic:: (4-4-2) Iraizoz - Iraola, San José, Amorebieta, Koikili - Susaeta, Gurpegui, Javi Martínez, Gabilondo – Toquero, Llorente.
Deportivo: (5-2-2-1) Aranzubia - Laure, Colotto, Aythami, Lopo, Manuel Pablo - Rubén Pérez; Juan Domínguez - Juan Rodríguez; Adrian or Valerón – Adrián or Lassad.
Referee: Antonio Rubinos Pérez
Kick-off: 16h00 CET (San Mamés)
Head-to-head Vs Athletic: 31 wins for Depor, 22 draws, 27 wins for Athletic (Primera)
Record at San Mamés: 9 wins for Depor, 11 draws, 20 wins for Athletic (Primera)



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