Competition news

PREVIEW: DEPORTIVO – ALMERIA (COPA)

19 Jan 2011
Depor searches for two goals, but it is facing problems in attack, reason why Lotina picked Dioni and even Juvenil A Iago Beceiro. Almeria is putting an offensive team despite the current advantage in the aggregate score.

STATISTICS: FOURTEEN YEARS WITHOUT A COMEBACK
Deportivo needs a two-goal victory in order to pass to semifinals; this after losing the first-leg game at Almeria with a 1-0 score, which by the way was the first defeat for the Galicians on this competition during this season. And to emphasize that, since the year 1997, Depor hasn’t achieved a comeback in a two-leg series in Copa Del Rey after losing the first game

The last time was on the season 1996/97, and Depor did it twice. The coach at the time was John Benjamin Toshack, and the team lost the first-leg of the last-32 round against Mallorca at the Lluís Sitjar (1-0), but seven days later the Galicians turned up the situation with a 3-0 win at the Riazor. In the next round Depor was facing Sevilla FC and lost again the first-leg match playing away from home, this time it was a 0-2 loss, and in the returning leg the Galician side won by the same score and later the series was defined in the penalty shootout (3-1).

Since that day Deportivo has faced seven two-leg series in Copa in which the team lost the first match, and the Galician side ended eliminated in those seven series: Deportivo Alavés (1997/98), Osasuna (1999/2000), RCD Mallorca (2002/03), RCD Espanyol (2005/06), plus three straight series against Sevilla FC: 2006/07, 2008/09 and 2009/10.

Finally, to mention that the tide has changed for these two teams since their last meeting, because despite Almeria is still living inside the relegation zone, the Andalusian side is arriving to the Riazor reinforced by its win in the first-leg, and mainly by its 1-1 draw in liga against the ‘all-mighty’ Real Madrid. Meanwhile, Depor has suffered three straight defeats, because it also lost in liga against Barca (0-4) and Valencia (0-2)

DEPORTIVO: 308 MINUTES SCORELESS
The Galicians are living a difficult situation in Copa Del Rey, not for been facing a ‘reborn’ Almeria, but because they are also fighting against themselves. And it’s that Depor at least needs to score twice in order to reach the semifinals round for the tenth time in their history, and that’s exactly what this team is lacking: goals. With the first round in liga already ended, Deportivo is tied with Racing as the worst scorer at Primera División with only fifteen goals in favour after nineteen matches.

Besides, the team is again in the middle of a drought as it has spent 308 minutes without scoring a goal in an official match. The last goal of Depor in an official competition came at matchday 17 in liga as Adrian scored against Athletic Bilbao at minute 52 of the game played at San Mamés. Since then Lotina’s side has ended scoreless in three opportunities: 0-4 Vs. Barcelona (liga), 0-1 Vs UD Almeria (Copa) and 0-2 Vs Valencia CF (liga).

To make things worse, the only two available strikers at the first team, Adrian and Lassad, have been doubtful due to the busy calendar in the month. The Asturian attacker is the third Depor’s player with more minutes in la liga (1,451) and for that reason was rested for the first-leg, but is also dragging a muscular problem (psoas) that almost left him out of the clash with Valencia. Meanwhile, the Tunisian has played 169 minutes in a matter of three days and Lotina fears that he can suffer a relapse from the muscular problems that tormented the player in past seasons, though the striker said in public to be fine.

For this reason, and despite been needing the goals, Depor’s coach was seriously thinking in resting these two players for la liga, especially taking in mind that on Sunday the team has another important liga clash (Real Zaragoza, 17h00 CET). That’s the reason why Lotina decided to pick Dionisio Emanuel Villalba ‘Dioni’ from Fabril and even Iago Beceiro from Juvenil A.

The Andalusian already played a few games with the first team, but this is the first time in which Iago is picked for an official game, actually he has only played twice at Segunda B with Deportivo B and is considered as one of the main hopes for the future. To mention that Iago is the first player in the history of the club that completes the cycle as he started at Alevin B in 2003 and is now reaching the first team.

The list of picked players also includes other two Fabril’s members: David Rochela and Diego Seoane, both of them could be starters, while the absentees from the first team are Rindarøy, Lopo and Juan Rodríguez, trio that wasn’t picked for the encounter and that have been reserved for the clash at Zaragoza, while Urreta still sidelined and the players still at the injury room are: Morel, Saúl, Guardado, Riki and Michel.

About the starting lineup for the game, it remains a mystery, because Lotina didn’t give too many clues on Tuesday’s training and will test the formation until Wednesday’s morning as the team will complete a last session behind closed doors at the Riazor (11h00 CET). The Basque coach himself increased the doubts on his press conference as he didn’t want to reveal too many details, he even claimed that Iago Beceiro could be a starter.

There are only two spots at the starting eleven that are secure: the goalkeeper, who will be Manuel Fernández Muñiz, ‘Manu’, and Juca. From there everything is mere speculation. Judging by the list of picked players, Seoane might appear at the left-back position, which would mean that Laure or Manuel Pablo will play at the right. If Lotina wants to keep using the system with five defenders, then the central positions could be for Colotto, Ze Castro and Rochela, same trio that played at Almeria at week ago. If instead the coach decides to play with only two men at the centre, then Lotina might be tempted to rest Argentine Colotto.

At midfield, Juca will be a starter as the coach announced it, though Rubén Pérez might have a chance if the coach decides to use two men for these functions; both are the fresher midfielders at the squad; the Brazilian just played the final minutes against Valencia, while the Andalusian was suspended for that match.  Some reporters believe that Lotina is planning to use a 5-1-3-1 figure, which means to see Valerón covering the playmaker’s role, with Pabo Álvarez performing on the right wing and Yves Desmarets on the left. The striker’s role should be for Lassad as Adrian is not totally fit to play, with Dioni and Iago Beceiro having the chance to enter throughout the game. The only clear thing is that neither Adrian nor Lassad are going to perform for the full match.

Desmarets was giving his opinion on the clash, “It is a complicate match, but tomorrow we are playing in front of our fans and in that way it is easier. We have good players and are able to score a lot of goals, so we will try to shut up the mouth of people that think we can’t score twice. I believe we will do it and therefore will pass the round. I don’t know if we are the favourites as we lost the first game, but it isn’t important, the important thing is to pass.”

Finally, Iago Beceiro was explaining his feelings after been picked for this game, “I am very happy, living in a cloud, but neither am I nervous. Yesterday I was informed that I was going to train with the team, so I couldn’t sleep. I saw as a distant thing the fact of playing with Fabril, and now this. I just played a few games with the B team. About me?.. I am fast, talented and multifunctional; I can play at the centre of the attack, but can also perform at both wings. I like to score goals, but also to give assists.”

List of picked players (20): Manu, Aranzubia (goalkeepers); Colotto, Aythami, Zé Castro, Rochela, Laure, Manuel Pablo, Seoane (defenders); Antonio Tomás, Juan Dominguez, Juca, Rubén Pérez, Valerón, Pablo Álvarez, Desmarets (midfielders); Dioni, Iago Beceiro, Lassad and Adrián (strikers).

ALMERIA: RENEWED FAITH
UD Almeria has ended the first round in la liga as the last place at the standings with fourteen points added after nineteen matches, but somehow its fans are still smiling. And all thanks to the things made by the team within the last seven days; firstly clinching an important 1-0 win over Deportivo that’s approaching the historic dream of reaching the semifinals in Copa Del Rey for the first time, and then by clinching a 1-1 draw against the powerful Real Madrid, it might look insignificant, but it cut a rally of five straight wins for the Madrilenians.

For this reason there’s hope in the environment as the fans are optimist of the near future of a team that, despite been at the bottom, it’s just two points below the salvation.  For the game against Depor there are some novelties, starting with the fact that new signing Juan Jesús Gutierrez Robles ‘Juanito’ is part of the list for the game, he is a defensive midfielder that performed in the past for Almeria and that signed a six-months contract after leaving Malaga two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, central defenders Wilmer Acasiete and Marcelo Silva are out of the clash for injury reasons, while Nigerian striker Kalu Uche and midfielder Miguel Angel Nieto have been rested for this weekend’s game against Osasuna. Burkina Faso striker Jonathan Sundy Zongo was also included for the game after making his debut with first team during last Thursday’s game against Depor.

The main problem at the squad of coach Jose Maria Oltra is located at the centre of the defense, because of the casualties of Acasiete and Silva; all appoints that Carlos Garcia and Hernán Darío Pellerano are going to be the starting choices, it is the first game as starter in a long time for the Argentine, ironically since he suffered a serious knee injury at the Riazor playing for the past liga campaign.

Meanwhile, Esteban Andrés Suárez will be at the goal, Brazilian Michel Macedo Rocha will be the right-back defender and Juanma Ortiz will cover the left side. Cameroonian Modeste M´Bami is suspended in liga, and therefore he will be a starter in this game. Fabián Andrés Vargas will be his partner at midfield, the Colombian missed the first-leg game for suspension.

In attack, Oltra is only reserving Uche, because he is planning to put all his available gunpowder on the grass of the Riazor. Miguel Angel García ‘Corona’ will be the playmaker in the formation, Argentine Pablo Daniel Piatti will attack from the right flank, Albert Crusat will do it from the left, and the central attacker will be Argentine José Leonardo Ulloa

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

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Deportivo: (5-1-3-1) Manu – Laure or Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Aythami, Zé Castro, Seoane – Juca - Pablo Álvarez, Valerón, Desmarets - Lassad.
Almeria: (4-2-3-1) Esteban - Michel, Carlos García, Pellerano, Juanma Ortiz - M'Bami, Fabián Vargas - Piatti, Corona, Crusat - Leo Ulloa.
Referee: Eduardo Iturralde González
Kick-off: 20h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head against Almeria 2 wins for Depor, 2 draws, 4 wins for Almeria (Primera & Copa)
Record at the Riazor: 1 win for Depor, 1 draw, 1 win for Almeria (Primera & Copa)

ARCHIVE NEWS JAN/11

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