Competition news

PREVIEW: ALMERIA – DEPORTIVO (COPA)

13 Jan 2011
Lotina makes rotations in Copa switching back to the system with five defenders, while Oltra is preparing an offensive scheme in order to clinch a positive result in the first-leg of the quarterfinals.

STATISTICS: OPPOSITE MOMENTS IN LIGA
Deportivo has never faced UD Almeria playing for Copa Del Rey, but it did it against one of its predecessors: Atletico Almeria. It occurred on the season 1959/60 as both clubs were at Segunda División and the Galicians won the tie thanks to a 4-2 aggregate score (first round), Depor was later eliminated by Athletic Bilbao in the next round.

The true is that things aren’t working out for UD Almeria after the exit of Juanma Lillo, because the Andalusian squad has lost four of the seven liga games disputed after the coach was sacked, reason why they still penultimate at the standings. At least Almeria was able to reach the quarterfinals for the first time after eliminating RCD Mallorca in an impressive series that ended with an 8-6 aggregate score.

Meanwhile, Depor is arriving to the series living a placid situation in liga and after clinching its third appearance in the quarterfinals within the last three seasons, though also after suffering a 0-4 defeat at home against Barcelona FC, which actually is the biggest defeat at the Riazor suffered by Depor since the 2-5 against Recreativo de Huelva back on the season 2006/07. 

Finally, to mention that there’s a renewed interest in this competition, not only for the names of the clubs that reached this round (Atletico Madrid, Barcelona or Real Madrid), but also because the last 16-round was exciting. With Barca suffering in Bilbao, Depor clinching the pass in extra-times or with Almeria passing in a series that was full of goals. Just to mention the fact that 59 goals were scored in the round, which is the best mark within the last 48 years on the competition. 

DEPORTIVO: ROTATIONS
Once again coach Miguel Ángel Lotina is preparing rotations ahead of Copa Del Rey; more precisely the Basque manager is making seven changes compared to the team that played on Saturday against Barcelona FC; he is just keeping Manuel Pablo, Albert Lopo, Yves Desmarets and Ruben Perez at the starting formation, and to mention that this last man is playing because he is suspended for the next liga game against Valencia FC.

It is the way to response to the tight calendar in January, because on Sunday, at Mestalla, the coach will surely change again the whole squad. The other novelty for the match is that Lotina is returning to the system with five defenders after using a 4-2-3-1 scheme in the 0-4 defeat against Barcelona.

In this way Manuel Fernandez ‘Manu’ will be at the goal; Manuel Pablo will switch back to the right-back position after playing on the left during the last two liga matches, Portuguese Ze Castro, Fabril’s David Rochela and Catalan Albert Lopo will perform at the centre of the defense, while Norwegian Knut Rindarøy will cover the left side.

The duo at midfield will be composed by the Andalusian couple Ruben Pérez-Juan Rodriguez; the first one is suspended in liga as he picked a fifth yellow card against Barca, while the second is coming back to the team after been suspended for the same reason.

Pablo Álvarez will be the playmaker performing towards the right wing; French Yves Desmarets will do the same on the left sector, while Tunisian Lassad Nouioui will be the central attacker in the formation.

Rubén Pérez was giving his opinion on this series, ”Almeria is right now in a worse situation than us, but were better at the start of the season; for this reason I don’t see any favourite side in this series. You know that if we pass then we will probably meet Barcelona, and you end up living the same thing of this week. Truly our chances to pass are bigger, but we need to be careful, it is encouraging to know that you will face a beatable rival, besides we play the returning leg at the Riazor. But they beat us on here and must try to pass to semifinals”

Similar were the thoughts of captain Manuel Pablo, who was explaining the goal of Depor at Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos, “We know that Almeria is a similar club to us. So, we know it is going to be a complicate series for us, the goal is to achieve a positive result in the first-leg.”

List of picked players (20): Aranzubia, Manu (goalkeepers); Lopo, Colotto, Rochela, Ze Castro, Aythami, Manuel Pablo, Laure, Rindarøy (defenders); Antonio Tomás, Juca, Rubén Pérez, Juan Rodríguez, Juan Domínguez, Desmarets, Pablo Álvarez, Valerón (midfielders); Lassad and Adrián (strikers).

ALMERIA: SCORING, BUT ALSO CONCEDING
One of the reasons for the poor season of Almeria in la liga is the lack of goals; so far the Andalusians have only scored 16 goals at Primera, which is the fourth worst mark after the first 18 matchdays. However this situation might be a mirage as Almeria has scored six times within the last four liga matches, and to remember that the team also scored eight goals in the last-16 round of Copa Del Rey, mark that only Real Madrid and Sevilla could match.

It means that Los Rojiblancos are improving in attack, which is logical taking in mind that new coach Jose Maria Oltra is considered as an offensive coach that likes to practice offensive football. And the leading forces in this reaction are Argentines Pablo Daniel Piatti and José Leonardo Ulloa, plus Nigerian Kalu Uche.

Piatti is the top-scorer in la liga for Almeria with five goals, while he added other two against RCD Mallorca in the past round in Copa. Meanwhile, Ulloa has four goals on the Primera campaign and scored a hat-trick in the first-leg against the Majorcans, finally Uche also has four goals in liga –including two at the Riazor- and added another goal in the past Copa series. This trio is the main hope for the Andalusians in order to reach for the first time the semifinals round.

But this story has an opposite face, because lately Almeria is also allowing a lot of goals, and it’s that within the last nine liga matches the Andalusians have leaked the astonishing number of twenty-three goals, that’s the worst mark in the period, which includes the historic 0-8 against Barcelona. And if Almeria scored eight goals in the last-16 round in Copa it must also be reminded that they allowed six goals in that series, actually the Andalusians were the side that qualified to this round with the highest number of goals conceded.

And this is the picture of Almeria at this stage of the season: a team with a good potential in attack, but too weak at defense. Just to appoint that Oltra’s team was leading Mallorca 0-4 at halftime of the last Copa match, and then the game ended 3-4. The good news for the coach is that his defense is now stronger as central defender Hernan Pellerano is finally available after spending nine months sidelined due to a serious knee injury, precisely suffered against Depor at the Riazor; however he will start the match on the bench.

For the game against Deportivo midfielder Fabian Vargas is suspended as he was sent off with two yellow cards in the past Copa match with RCD Mallorca, while Peruvian central defender Wilmer Acasiete and midfielder Miguel Angel Nieto were not considered for the clash. The main novelty in the list of picked players is the presence of Burkina Faso striker Jonathan Sundy Zongo, it is the first call for the attacker of Almeria B, who also represents the 4th youngster picked by Oltra in the few weeks that he has spent at the club.

It is expected that the Valencian coach will put an offensive 4-2-3-1 squad on the grass, with only three modifications compared to the team that lost at RCD Mallorca on the past weekend. One of the novelties is the presence of Esteban Andrés Suárez at the goal, while the line of four defenders is composed by Brazilian Michel Macedo at the right side, Danish Michael Jakobsen at the left, while the central positions will be for Uruguayan Marcelo Silva and Catalan Carlos García.

At midfield, the casualty of Vargas will be covered with Argentine Hernán Darío Bernardello; he will join Cameroonian Modeste M´Bami at the pivote functions. Juan Manuel Ortiz will keep playing on the right wing, which means that Nigerian Kalu Uche will be on the bench, he was the one that scored the two goals against Depor earlier on the liga season. 

Meanwhile, Argentine Pablo Daniel Piatti will be the playmaker in the formation, Catalan Albert Crusat will attack from the left flank; and finally ex-San Lorenzo striker José Leonardo Ulloa will be the forward in the scheme.

Modeste M´Bami was saying before the game that, despite the current situation in liga, Almeria is eager to clinch the pass to semifinals, “We are feeling motivated, willing to do things and I believe that we are going to achieve anything that we propose.”

List of picked players (18): Diego Alves, Esteban (goalkeepers); Michel Macedo, Juanma Ortiz, Carlos García, Marcelo Silva, Pellerano, Jakobsen (defenders); Bernardello, M'bami, Corona, Ortiz Bernal, Crusat (midfielders); Kalu Uche, Goitom, Piatti, Ulloa and Jonathan (strikers).

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Almeria: (4-2-3-1) Esteban - Michel Macedo, Carlos García, Marcelo Silva, Jakobsen - Mbami, Bernardello - Juanma Ortíz, Piatti, Crusat - Ulloa
Deportivo: (5-2-2-1) Manu - Manuel Pablo, Zé Castro, Rochela, Lopo, Rindarøy - Rubén Pérez, Juan Rodríguez - Pablo Álvarez, Desmarets - Lassad
Referee: Xavier Estrada Fernández
Kick-off: 20h00 CET (Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos)
Head-to-head against Almeria 2 wins for Depor, 2 draws, 3 wins for Almeria (Primera)
Record in Almeria: 1 win for Depor, 1 draw, 1 win for Almeria (Primera)

ARCHIVE NEWS JAN/11

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