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PREVIEW: ALMERIA - DEPORTIVO (LIGA)

20 Feb 2011
Deportivo searches for three important points and relies on the aim of its defenders, while Almeria precisely has problems at defense due to the casualties, but presents a highly effective offensive sector.

STATISTICS: FOURTH MEETING AGAINST ALMERIA
Deportivo already faced UD Almeria in three opportunities on this season, and it fell down against the Andalusian opponent in those three meetings. In its centenary history the Galician club has only lost four games in one single season against the same opponent. It firstly happened against Valencia FC back on the season 1943/44 as Depor lost twice at Primera División (0-2 & 0-3) and also in Copa (0-2 & 2-4).

More recently, this phenomena was repeated twice against Sevilla FC, first with Caparrós on board as Depor lost twice in Copa Del Rey (0-3 & 0-2) and also in la liga (0-4 & 1-2). And Lotina also tasted the same medicine on the campaign 2008/09: 1-3 & 0-1 in liga plus 1-2 & 0-3 in Copa del Rey.

Currently, both Almeria and Deportivo are fighting for the permanence in liga; the Andalusians suffered an important setback on the past weekend as they lost against a direct rival: UD Levante (0-1). Now, they are penultimate at the standings, three points below the safety. Meanwhile, Depor clinched an important win over Villarreal and now they are three points above the pit.

To mention that Almeria is the second worst home team in la liga, with only two wins after nine games at Estadio Del Los Juegos Mediterráneos, but it must be reminded  that those two wins occurred within the last two games played there: 3-2 Vs Osasuna (matchday 20) and 3-2 Vs RCD Espanyol (matchday 22). In the meantime, Depor is the fifth worst visitor in la liga as it has only clinched two wins playing in this condition: 2-1 at UD Levante (matchday 10) and 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao (matchday 17).

Finally, to remember that, on the present liga campaign, Depor has only clinched two straight wins in one opportunity, it was within matchdays 09 & 10 as Lotina’s side defeated RCD Espanyol (3-0) and then UD Levante (2-1).

DEPORTIVO: THE DEFENDERS ARE ON FIRE
Despite the relegation problems on this season, the true is that the defenders of Deportivo are living a great moment as combined they have scored seven goals in la liga: Albert Lopo (2), Diego Colotto (2), Aythami Artiles (2) and Laure (1). That’s the highest mark among the twenty clubs at Primera and the fourth in the history of the club. The only three times in which the defenders scored more goals were on the seasons 2002-03 (10: Capdevila 3, Scaloni 3, Donato 2, Romero 1 and Naybet 1), 2005/06 (9: Capdevila 4, Juanma 4 and Andrade 1) and 2007/08 (9: Coloccini 4, Pablo Amo 3, Lopo 1 and Filipe 1).

Actually, Depor hasn’t lost a game on this liga season after one of its defenders scored a goal. Lopo was commenting the issue with reporters, “The idea is to always seize the set-pieces, and later we need a little of intuition as well as good luck, plus to be standing at the right place.” Colotto was saying that, “The team has players that are dangerous when they step into the area. It isn’t the same to be forced to mark one or two men than to face five men with the ability to score. Besides, we have men like Guardado, Saúl and Antonio Tomás, who are specialist in set-pieces.”

The thoughts of Laure regarding this issue were, ”We work hard in strategic plays, and besides the three central defenders are always convinced when they try to strike the ball. Also, to remember that Manuel Pablo already hit the post in one opportunity. Let’s hope the streak will continue.” Finally, Aythami was assuring that the defenders by themselves motivate the competition inside the squad, “It wasn’t a bet, but a joke among us. We told Lopo that he only had one goal in favour while Colotto and I had two, and it seems we motivated him as the other day he scored a very important goal. It was a great joy for everyone.”

Regarding the game with Almeria, the situation at the injury room seemed under control as the only two players out, Saul and Guardado, are expected to return for next week, but now a new player is joining them: Xisco. The striker didn’t end Saturday’s training and the first scans have determined that he sustained a groin strain injury, this means that he could be out for a month, though new scans need to be made in order to confirm the problem.

Another surprising fact is to realize that Lotina has left out of the game his only two natural playmakers at the squad: Valerón and Michel. Desmarets and Ze Castro were also sidelined. In the end, and as it was expected, Lotina is repeating the lineup that defeated Villarreal; it is a 4-1-2-1-2 figure with Dani Aranzubia at the goal, Manuel Pablo will cover the right-back position, Paraguayan Claudio Morel will do it on the left sector, and the duo at the centre is composed by Diego Colotto and Albert Lopo..

A key in the formation is the diamond figure at midfield, with Ruben Pérez playing more delayed and closer to the central defenders, Juan Dominguez performing towards the right wing and Antonio Tomás doing the same on the left, while Juan Rodriguez will be the more advanced midfielder playing behind the attacking couple, Riki and Adrian.

Juan Dominguez was remembering that Almeria was the place in which he debuted at Primera División, "It is a special stadium for me, because I debuted there at Primera División. We aren't feeling screwed, but somehow have a sense of revenge after losing three times against them. This is the fourth time and the true is that it is the most important match, so a victory on this game will wash away the previous one, because it’s more vital."

Similar were the thoughts of Diego Colotto, "We have a very important game on Sunday. Almeria should be thinking that if they already defeated us in the previous three games, then why don't a fourth time? and we answer that three are enough. We are improving and let’s hope that the team will react; nothing can’t be a better motivation as the players know that the team still living in danger."

Finally, Riki was saying that the new scheme is good for the strikers of Depor, “Clearly, the strikers are now feeling better. This scheme is helpful as it allows us to perform closer to the area. And that means to increase our chances to score a goal. Evidently we don’t need to go down in order to get the ball and we need the goals, just like any other team. If we work like the other day, meaning to be organized and be more aggressive, then the good results will arrive, that’s for sure.”

List of picked players (18): Aranzubia, Manu (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Lopo, Morel, Laure, Aythami (defenders); Rubén Pérez, Juan Rodríguez, Juan Domínguez, Pablo Álvarez, Antonio Tomás, Juca (midfielders); Lassad, Adrián, Riki and Sand (strikers).

ALMERIA: NOTHING HAS CHANGED
The arrival of coach José Luis Oltra has been applauded by the newspapers and radio stations, because he has given an offensive approach to a team that was lacking of everything, but the true is that nothing has changed compared to the stage with Juan Manuel Lillo. Just a simple number to explain it: with Lillo the Andalusian team added nine points in twelve games, with Oltra Almeria has added eleven in eleven matches. In the end Los Rojiblancos have spent 13 of 23 matchdays in liga living inside the relegation zone.

The problem still located at the defensive zone, because Almeria still suffering a lot at the back as it presents the second highest numbers of goals allowed on the season (39), just above Malaga CF (49). That’s the problem that Oltra hasn’t been able to correct, his team has scored 15 times in liga since his arrival, which is practically the double of goals conquered with Lillo.

The key to understand the mess is that Oltra’s squad is now allowing more goals than Lillo’s team, the first leaked 21goals in 11 games, while the second allowed 18 in 12 matches, including the eight scored by Barcelona in the encounter that cost the job to Lillo. Actually, on this season Almeria has only clinched a clean sheet in two opportunities: the 0-0 with Osasuna on matchday 01 and the 2-0 win over Depor on matchday 05. In the end Almeria has leaked at least one goal within the last eighteen liga encounters.

To make things worse, Oltra has three casualties at his defensive zone; firstly Juanma Ortiz is out as he suffered a tibia injury during the returning leg in Copa against Deportivo, later Michel got suspended after picking the fifth yellow card of the season in the past game against Levante. These two casualties are leaving the first squad without a natural right-back defender.  And on Thursday the victim was central defender Carlos García, who sustained an ankle sprain that will keep him at bay for the next three weeks. Now, Oltra only has five defenders available for the game, and for that reason he was forced to pick Manuel Castellano Castro ‘Lillo’ for the game; the 21-year-old right-back from Almeria B already played twice at Primera.

Another last-minute casualty for the encounter is Albert Crusat, who was sidelined due to pharyngitis, before ending out of the game, the Catalan winger was assuring that Almeria is expecting a different rival compared to the Deportivo that lost the previous three games disputed on the season, ”The team in liga is maybe different to the one in Copa and then everything is different. We expect for a different match compared to what we have done before. They will go out trying to add points, because they are playing for something. We are a direct rival for them and hopefully our team will get the three points.”

In the end Oltra will present a 4-4-2 formation; with Brazilian Diego Alves Carreira at the goal; the casualty of Carlos Garcia is forcing to keep Wilmer Acasiete performing at the centre  of the defense, the Peruvian will be joined by Uruguayan Marcelo Andrés Silva, for this reason Almeria B player Lillo is entering into the squad in order to cover the right-back position, while Danish Michael Jakobsen will cover the left sector. At midfield, Argentine Hernán Darío Bernardello will join Cameroonian Modeste M´Bami on the pivote functions.

If Almeria is presenting problems in defense, then all its hopes are in the offense, because Oltra is just missing Crusat for the game and is putting his best attackers on the pitch. Nigerian Kalu Uche, who scored both goals in the first round match, will attack from the right wing, while Argentine Pablo Daniel Piatti will do the same on the left. Swedish Henok Goitom and Argentine José Leonardo Ulloa will compose the attacking couple. It is a highly effective offensive sector taking in mind that combined, the attackers of Almeria have scored 17 goals on the liga campaign, just three goals less than the whole Depor’s team combined.

List of picked players (19): Diego Alves, Esteban (goalkeepers); Lillo, Pellerano, Acasiete, Marcelo Silva, Jakobsen, Luna (defenders); Bernardello, M'bami, Fabián Vargas, Juanito, Corona, Ortiz Bernal , Feghouli (midfielders); Kalu Uche, Ulloa, Goitom and Piatti (strikers).

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Almeria: (4-4-2) Diego Alves - Lillo, Acasiete, Marcelo Silva, Jakobsen – Uche, Benardello, M´bami, Piatti – Goitom, Ulloa.
Deportivo: (4-1-2-1-2) Aranzubia – Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Lopo, Morel – Rubén Pérez – Juan Domínguez, Antonio Tomás – Juan Rodríguez – Riki, Adrián.
Referee: José Luis González González (11 games on the season, 5 wins for the visiting team)
Kick-off: 17h00 CET (Estadio de Los Juegos Mediterráneos)
Head-to-head Vs 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 FEB/11

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