Squad news


23 Jan 2011
Lotina prepares a cautious lineup as he knows that Depor can’t lose the game; meanwhile Zaragoza has lived all kind of problems throughout the season, but arrives to the meeting after two straight home victories.

Deportivo is one of the two worst scorers at Primera División as the Galicians have only scored fifteen goals after nineteen matches, but neither Zaragoza is finding the goals, because they have only scored two more times compared to Depor, but what’s killing the Aragonian side is the fact of been, together with Almeria, the worst defensive line in la liga with 32 goals allowed during the first round.

It clearly explains why Zaragoza has remained at the relegation zone since matchday 03, but things have been improving as currently the team presents a mark of two straight wins at La Romareda: 2-1 Vs. Real Sociedad and 1-0 Vs. UD Levante. It is a fact encouraging a team that seemed condemned to Segunda, but that is now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as they are only separated from safety by the goal average, therefore it is a dangerous game for Depor, because it’s facing a desperate rival that could put them back into troubles.

Meanwhile, Deportivo is arriving after losing some gas in recent weeks, it was just eliminated by UD Almeria in Copa Del Rey and it has suffered three defeats within the last five liga encounters, reason why the relegation zone is just five points below Lotina’s side, for this reason the team can’t lose the game, because a defeat will mean to be involved once again in the fight for the permanence.

Also, La Romareda has been a positive stadium for Depor in recent decades, and it’s that the Galicians clinched five wins in the six games played there between the years 1992 & 1998, and in the last five visits they achieved four draws and only suffered one defeat (0-1, season 2007/08)

Depor is now eliminated from Copa Del Rey and can focus in la liga, but it is finding that the situation at the bottom of the table is tighter than ever before. The Galicians are five points above relegation, and there are nine teams separated by just eight points at the standings, therefore the next three matchdays could change the entire picture in the quest for the salvation.

And now Lotina’s team is crossing roads with Real Zaragoza, a team at the edge of leaving the relegation zone and that’s having a renewed  spirit after winning its last two home matches. So, there’s no margin for errors as a new loss will put Depor directly into the fight for the permanence, while a victory could be the definitive step to forget about the issue for the rest of the season.

The players are aware of the situation, as Colotto was saying that this is a crucial game for them, “We are facing an important match. In any second round, when you are facing teams that are below you, it is important to not lose points, so that’s our mentality, which means to achieve an important result, no matter is a draw, and if we can to put more distance with Zaragoza. These are matchers in which if you lose then you could start doubting, and you end approaching to the zone that you don’t like.”

Similar were the thoughts of Lopo, “Zaragoza is living a complicate situation, but neither Depor is fine. They have been living down there and will love to cut the distance with us. We are going out for the victory, but a draw is also good. We must go out thinking like any team living the situation of Zaragoza, which means to search for the victory since the first minute.”

For the visit to La Romareda, four players that still at the injury room are Riki, Morel, Guardado and Michel, while Norwegian Knut Rindarøy wasn’t picked as he had flu during the week: It calls the attention that wingers Saul Fernandez and Yves Desmarets weren’t included for a personal decision of the coach. While a third winger, Jonathan Urreta, still sidelined after saying that he wants to leave. This means that Lotina is travelling to Saragossa with only one natural winger at the squad: Pablo Álvarez.

It gives a clear picture of what the coach is trying to do at La Romareda, because the plan is to put again a trivote figure on the pitch, with Juan Rodriguez, Juan Dominguez and Ruben Pérez playing at the centre of the pitch, and with the couple Lassad-Adrian in attack.

At the back zone, the strategy is to return to the system with five defenders after playing with four in Copa before Almeria. Daniel Aranzubia returns to the goal after been rested in midweek, same thing for Diego Colotto and Albert Lopo, duo that will join Aythami Artiles at the centre, but who won’t rest is the duo Manuel Pablo-Laureano Sanabria ‘Laure’; the Canarian veteran will keep playing at the left side of the defense, and the Madrilenian will do it on the right.

At midfield, the Juan Dominguez, Ruben Pérez and Juan Rodriguez will compose the triple pivote figure; of this trio only Madrilenian Ruben Pérez performed in the Copa clash with Almeria. In attack, the couple will be composed by Lassad Nouioui and Adrian López, same combination that tried to lead the comeback in Copa Del Rey.

List of picked players (18): Aranzubia, Manu (goalkeepers); Lopo, Aythami, Colotto, Ze Castro, Manuel Pablo, Seoane, Laure (defenders); Antonio Tomás, Rubén Pérez, Juan Dominguez, Juca, Juan Rodríguez, Valerón, Pablo Álvarez (midfielders), Lassad and Adrián (strikers).

It has been a tough season for Real Zaragoza; the Aragonian team has been submerged inside the relegation zone since matchday 03, and to make thing worse all kind of problems have showed up; among others unpaid wages, fights between the reporters and the players, bad luck in some matches, absence of good signings, plus an increasing disapproval to the job of president Agapito Iglesias.

But everything could be erased with a stroke of a pen on Sunday, because Zaragoza faces its first big opportunity to leave the relegation zone after almost four months. And it’s that the two straight victories over Real Sociedad (2-1) and UD Levante (1-0) have left the permanence at reach. A win over Depor, plus the defeat of Racing Santander at Barcelona FC, will allow a dream that seemed impossible a few weeks ago.

That’s why coach Javier Aguirre has been preparing his strategy behind closed doors throughout the week. Firstly, in order to avoid new confrontations with the media, and later to focus the attention of the players in the game. And it’s that the salvation has been calculated in winning seven of the remaining nine matches that will be played at La Romareda during the second round.

And for the match against Depor, Aguirre was planning to repeat the same squad that achieved the last win over UD Levante, but the Mexican left big doubts on his plans as he tested some novelties for the right wing. To mention that it could be the first time since October of 2009 in which the Aragonians repeat the same starting eleven in two straight liga encounters.

No matter what, it will be a 4-2-3-1 figure; with Leo Franco at the goal, Brazilian Carlos Andrés Diogo performing at the right-back position, ex-Getafe Javier Paredes playing on the left side, while the central positions will be for Italian Matteo Contini and Czech Jiri Jarosik.

At midfield, veteran Leonardo Daniel Ponzio and ex-Atletico Gabriel Fernández ‘Gabi’ will cover the pivote functions, curiously this last player is the Pichichi at the team with four goals scored in liga. Ex-Depor man Ángel Lafita will play on the right wing; the doubt is on the left, as Dutch Said Boutahar and Argentine Nicolas Bertolo have the same chances to play. Bouthar has only performed in seven games on the season, and was one of the better players in the last game in liga, while Bertolo has lacked consistency throughout the season, but he was praised by Aguirre during the press conference previous to the encounter.

A thing for sure is that Basque Ander Herrera will be the playmaker in the formation, he has been the best player of Zaragoza on the season and his performance was already noticed by other clubs like Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal, actually it is commented that he could be transferred before the end of the month for ten million Euros. Finally, Florent Sinama-Pongolle will be the central attacker; the ex-Liverpool is one of the big disappointments as he has only scored three goals in thirteen matches.

The ex-Atletico man was talking of what Zaragoza needs in order to clinch the permanence, ”The regularity, besides a streak of victories and to give a positive impression, it’s the key for the permanence. We can’t win one game and then lose the next match for a lack of attitude. We want to make a nice game against Deportivo, and for that we need to be plugged since the kick-off.”

Finally, Ander Herrera was talking of the importance of a victory in this game, “A victory over Deportivo will mean to chain two straight wins, and will be an important boost in order to see ourselves outside of relegation, because we will surely pass two or three rivals. If we follow the same path I believe we can save the club, though it will be difficult. To be strong at home should be our goal, because traditionally the stadium has been a complicate pitch for our rivals, and it must be like that as it’s fundamental for the salvation.”

List of picked players (18): Leo Franco, Toni Doblas (goalkeepers); Diogo, Paredes, Contini, Lanzaro, Pintér, Obradovic (defenders); Jorge López, Ander Herrera, Nico Bertolo, Gabi, Lafita, Boutahar, Jarosik, Ponzio (midfielders); Sinama-Pongolle and Braulio (strikers).

Zaragoza: (4-2-3-1) Leo Franco - Diogo, Jarosik, Contini, Paredes - Ponzio, Gabi – Lafita, Ander, Bertolo or Boutahar - Sinama Pongolle
Deportivo: (5-3-2-1) Aranzubia - Laure, Lopo, Aythami, Colotto, Manuel Pablo - Rubén Pérez, Juan Rodríguez, Juan Domínguez – Lassad, Adrián.
Referee: David Fernandez Borbalán (8 games on the season, only 2 wins for the visiting side)
Kick-off: 17h00 CET (La Romareda)
Head-to-head Vs Zaragoza: 23 wins for Depor, 17 draws, 21 wins for Zaragoza (Primera & Segunda)
Record at La Romareda: 9 wins for Depor, 7 draws, 14 wins for Zaragoza (Primera & Segunda)



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