Squad news

PREVIEW: DEPORTIVO – BARCELONA (LIGA)

08 Jan 2011
Lotina could be tempted in switching back the system into a 4-2-3-1 draw as he relies on the good moment of Adrian, while Barca arrives to the Riazor with all the artillery on the pitch.

STATISTICS: ONLY ONE WIN IN FIVE YEARS
Within the last five liga seasons Deportivo has only been able to defeat Barcelona in one opportunity; it was three seasons ago –Apr 28, 2008- as Barca arrived to the Riazor just days before facing Manchester United for the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League, therefore former coach Frank Rijkaard was focused in the European clash and played the game with several substitutes. Since that day, Depor has only clinched a 1-1 draw against the Catalans (season 2008/09).

This Barcelona is breaking all the records at the Spanish la liga and will surely leave a mark in history, but there are two facts must be emphasized for the occasion. First that Barca is the best scorer among the big leagues in Europe with 54 goals in favour, which actually is an historic record in Spain after the first 17 matchdays. The interesting fact is that currently Deportivo is one of the best defenses in la liga. The Galicians started badly, but since matchday 10 they represent the second best defense at Primera División with only six goals allowed within the last eight liga games, which clearly demonstrates that this is a confrontation offense vs. defense.

The other mark is related to the away record, because Barcelona has won its last ten matches played away from the Camp Nou (two on the past season and eight in the present tournament), which includes victories at complicate stadiums like El Madrigal (4-1 over Villarreal), Sánchez Pizjuán (3-1 over Sevilla FC), the Calderón (2-1 over Atletico Madrid), San Mamés (3-1 over Athletic Bilbao) or the Cornella-El Prát (5-1 over RCD Espanyol). If that’s not enough to remember that this Barca crushed UD Almeria at Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos with a shocking 8-0 score. Actually, the mark of ten straight away wins is not only a record in the history of the Catalan club, but also the best mark in the 79 years of Primera División.

At Depor, meanwhile, maybe the stronger statistic of Lotina’s team is the fact that since matchday 10 the Galicians are the fourth best team in liga, with 14 points added in 8 matches, just behind Barcelona itself (24), Real Madrid (21) and Villarreal (16). Also, to emphasize the fact that the Riazor will witness its first sold-out game of the season, which could be an important motivating factor for the players.

DEPORTIVO: ADRIAN IS ON FIRE
Taking in mind the powerful attack of Barcelona, Depor will not only need a strong defense in order to achieve a positive result, but also to score some goals; and the sudden irruption of Adrian López as a valid goal-scorer is exactly what coach Miguel Angel Lotina was waiting for. On the past weekend the Asturian scored twice against Athletic Bilbao in liga, and in midweek he scored his first career hat-trick against Córdoba FC.

It’s the first hat-trick at Depor since Xisco did it against Murcia playing for la liga (3-1 win over Murcia at the Riazor, March 30, 2008).  It’s also the first time in eight years in which a Depor’s player scores so many goals in one single week. On the season 2002/03 Roy Makaay scored seven goals in a matter of seven days, it was after he scored twice against Osasuna and Real Valladolid in liga (Sept 14 & 21, 2002), while in the middle the Dutch marksman was conquering a hat-trick against Bayern Munich at the Olympiastadion playing for the UEFA Champions League (Sept 18, 2002)

Without forgetting that Adrian usually makes good games against Barcelona, actually his first goal at Primera División was scored playing against the Catalans at the Camp Nou –March 30, 2007- Depor lost that game (1-2), but the goal of Depor’s striker amazed everyone, mainly because at the time he was only 19. And on the past season the Teverga-born attacker surprised everyone as he seized an error at Barca’s defense that was giving a 1-1 draw at the Riazor, though in the end the Galicians lost the encounter (1-3).

But there are some questions regardless if his current form is for real or not, starting with the fact that three of the five goals scored during the week were conquered through a penalty, but mainly that not so long ago Adrian seemed to be living a real drought against the opposite goal. And it’s that the ex-Oviedo striker scored his first goal of the season during the 3-0 win over RCD Espanyol  -Oct 31- and that goal just broke a personal mark of 1,028 minutes scoreless, period of time in which he was criticized for his lack of aim.

Adrian was talking before the game of his career against Barca, “Better is to not score against them and later to win the match, because each time I score they end winning. I’ve scored twice against them, and let’s hope I will be able to do it again, but the important thing is to make a great game. It is true that they are superior, right now the best team out there, but in football you never know what could happen.”

The big surprise for the game is that Lotina is seriously thinking in switching back the system into a 4-2-3-1, at least it was what he tested at the Riazor on Friday. The good news for the coach is that Lassad Nouioui surpassed a knock on the thigh and was picked for the game, actually the Tunisian might be a starter. Ruben Pérez (illness) and Knut Rindarøy (foot blisters) are also available after missing the Copa clash with Cordoba.

But Brazilian midfielder Juca (virus) will miss the clash, same thing than the other four players at the injury room: Morel, Míchel, Riki and Guardado.  Also to mention that Juan Rodriguez is suspended after been sent off in the past liga clash with Athletic Bilbao, while Ze Castro and Jonathan Urreta weren’t included in the list for the event.

If Lotina decides to return to the 4-2-3-1 system, then it will be a team with Daniel Aranzubia at the goal; Laureano Sanabria ‘Laure’ staying at the right-back position, Manuel Pablo on the left, while the two central defenders will be Lopo and Colotto. The two spots at midfield should be for Ruben Perez and Antonio Tomas.

During the training sessions behind closed doors held at the Riazor the coach tested with Saul Fernandez attacking on the right wing, while Yves Desmarets was doing it on the left, Adrian was the central attacker. The big doubt is at the playmaking function, because Lotina tested with Lassad and Juan Dominguez for this function.

Before the game, Valerón was praising the game practiced by the Catalans, “We don’t envy them, but you must like to watch Barcelona, because they play pretty and win the matches. I love to see things like this. It is a team that bets on attractive football, and besides it is winning. I just enjoy watching it.”

List of picked players (18): Aranzubía, Manu (goalkeepers), Laure, Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Aythami, Lopo, Rochela, Rindarøy (defenders); Antonio Tomás, Rubén Pérez, Juan Dominguez, Saúl, Pablo Álvarez, Desmarets, Valerón (midfielders); Lassad and Adrián (strikers).

BARCELONA: UNBEATABLE?
The Barcelona of Josep Guardiola looks like a team without limits, once again the Catalans aspire to win all the possible titles and their results are astonishing. So far they have played 29 games on the season (17 in liga, 6 in Champions League, 4 in Copa and 2 in Supercopa) and they have won 21 of those 29 encounters, only conceding 5 draws (FC København, FC Rubin Kazan, RCD Mallorca and twice against Athletic Bilbao), while they only lost against Hercules FC in liga (0-2) and against Sevilla FC for the Spanish Supercopa (1-3).

But the most scaring fact of this Barca is its capability to demolish the rivals. So far in liga they have won seven times with a margin of at least three goals: 3-0 at Racing (matchday 01), 5-0 Vs Sevilla (matchday 09), 8-0 at Almeria (matchday 12), 5-0 Vs Real Madrid (matchday 13), 3-0 at Osasuna (matchday 14), 5-0 Vs Real Sociedad (matchday 15) and 5-1 over RCD Espanyol (matchday 16).

And the face of this impressive run is without doubt Lionel Messi, who scored 34 goals on the past season, which was worth of the Golden Shoe title for top European goal-scorer during the season. In the current local tournament he already added 17 goals to his tally. The Argentine is also the second best scorer at the Champions League with six goals in six games, just behind Samuel Eto’o (7)

Another in-form player at Barca is Pedro Rodriguez, who has scored eight goals in the liga campaign, the Canarian has also scored at least one goal within the last four visits of his team, actually he has scored at least once in six of the last eight matches of Barcelona playing at Primera División.

Without forgetting David Villa, who already scored 11 goals at Primera División and that has a career-mark of 10 goals against Depor in liga, though none wearing Barca’s shirt. In the end coach Josep Guardiola will present this deadly trio at the grass of the Riazor. Actually, Guardiola is travelling to La Coruña with the 20 players that he has available for the game, plus Barca B midfielder Thiago Alcantara.

Even left-back Maxwell Scherrer is available after surpassing an adductor problem; Guardiola will still playing with a 4-3-3 scheme; with Victor Valdes at the goal, Daniel Alves performing at the right-back position, French Eric Abidal will do it on the left and the couple at the centre of the defense will be composed by Carles Puyol and Gerard Piqué.

Argentine Javier Mascherano will perform at midfield as the defensive pivote, while Xavi Hernandez and Andrés Iniesta will be the offensive choices. Xavi is coming to this game after breaking the mark of more games wearing Barca’s shirt (550). Finally, the trident in attack will be composed by Pedro, Messi and Villa

List of picked players (21): Valdés, Pinto (goalkeepers); Alves, Adriano, Piqué, Puyol, Milito, Abidal, Maxwell (defenders); Mascherano, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Keita, Thiago, Afellay (midfielders); Jeffren, Pedro, Villa, Messi and Bojan (strikers).

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Aranzubia – Laure, Colotto, Lopo, Manuel Pablo – Rubén Pérez, Antonio Tomas – Saúl, Lassad or Juan Domínguez, Desmarets - Adrian
Barcelona: (4-3.-3) Valdés - Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Abidal - Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta - Pedro, Messi, Villa
Referee: Carlos Delgado Ferreiro
Kick-off: 22h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs. Barca: 20 wins for Depor, 15 draws, 45 wins for Barca (Primera)
Record at the Riazor: 17 wins for Depor, 10 draws, 13 wins for Barca (Primera)

ARCHIVE NEWS JAN/11

ZAPPING

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