Squad news


07 May 2011
Both coaches have been thinking a lot of the lineups for the game, which should be normal taking in mind that the permanence is at stake. In the end Lotina will play with two strikers, while Preciado will only use two pivotes.

There are two reasons to fear Sporting Gijón; the first it’s the recent results of Depor against the Asturians, the other is the current form of Los Rojiblancos. Since the last promotion of Sporting to Primera (season 2008/09) Depor has been unable to beat its closest neighbor in la liga (285 km separate La Coruña from Gijón). And it’s that the Galicians have only picked a couple of draws within the last five meetings with Sporting The last win against them occurred on May 15th 1998 with two goals of Moroccan striker Salaheddine Bassir and another from Brazilian midfielder Flavio Conceiçao (3-0).

Besides, Sporting has only lost once within the last eight matchdays in la liga, for this reason they just need one more point to mathematically achieve the permanence. Actually, since this positive streak begun (matchday 27) the Asturians are the best team in la liga tied with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona as the trio has added 17 points within the last 8 games. They are even above Real Madrid, side that just added 16 points in the period. Meanwhile, Depor has just added 10 points in that same part of the tournament.

And if this negative stats aren’t enough, to appoint that Miguel Ángel Lotina has been unable to beat Manuel Preciado after eight confrontations at Primera División, plus the fact that the Basque trainer has never defeated Sporting Gijón at the elite after seven meetings against the Asturians, though he eliminated this club from Copa Del Rey with Segunda club Numancia FC.

But Deportivo has its own problems, starting with the fact that its performance decreases each time that the team plays away from the Riazor. Just to mention the fact that the Galicians are the third worst visitor at Primera with just two wins and five draws in seventeen liga visits. Without forgetting the fact that Lotina’s team has only scored seven goals away from home on this season, and that accumulates a negative mark of 360 minutes without scoring an away goal. The last one was conquered by Aranzubia in Almeria.

This is the most complicate moment for Deportivo in a decade, because the relegation has never been so close since the last promotion to Primera on the season 1991/92, and in order to avoid the pit the team needs to beat its demon within the last twelve months: the performance away from the Riazor. And it’s that the Galicians have just conquered six victories within its last thirty-six away matches; it is a terrible mark that clearly explains why the team hasn’t been able to achieve the permanence until this point on the season.

It was already explained that Depor has been scoreless within the last four away matches, and the key to understand this is the inexistent offensive game of the Galician team each time that it leaves the Riazor. And it’s that in those four games the team only created fifteen goals attempts and it only completed nine shots on target, poor numbers that aren’t enough for a team needs to scratch some points outside of La Coruña.

Coach Miguel Ángel Lotina is conscious of this problem; actually he already said that what his team needs is to create more scoring opportunities. During the week the Basque trainer was even testing in using a 4-4-2 scheme and putting three strikers on the pitch. But on Friday he was switching to a 4-1-3-2 draw. It’s not that filing the pitch with attackers he will magically find the road to the goals, it’s just about creating more scoring opportunities. The 4-1-3-2 is a similar draw to the one used at UD Almeria (Feb 20), with a diamond figure at midfield and with two strikers up front.

Aranzubia will be at the goal; Laure will cover the right-back position, Manuel Pablo passed a late test on Friday and will cover the left sector. Meanwhile, Aythami Artiles enters into the starting eleven in order to replace Lopo and perform alongside Diego Colotto at the centre.

Rubén Pérez returns and the Andalusian will the pivote incrusted between the other midfielders and the two central defenders. Then, Juan Rodriguez will be performing in a more advanced position, almost like a playmaker, Juan Dominguez will play towards the right wing, while Andrés Guardado will do it on the left.

Finally, Riki and Xisco will be the attacking duo.  Majorcan Xisco has been a starter within the last five liga matches, period of time in which he scored twice. But this is the first presence of Madrilenian Riki at the starting eleven since February 20 against UD Almeria, precisely the last time in which the coach used a 4-1-3-2 starting lineup; in that opportunity his partner in attack was Adrian.

Xisco talked before the game about having a companion up front, ”Since I am playing I have been alone in attack, with a playmaker or two behind me. I guess it will be fine, but we must see how it will affect the team, because we can’t weaken the defense for been putting more men in attack. The system must be more balanced. The true is that the eleven men going out must search for everything, always trusting that we can win this game and at the same time to succeed in our personal battles.”

In the end Lotina only has the casualties of Antonio Tomas, Morel and Juca, trio that remains at the injury room, plus the suspended Albert Lopo, though the Basque man will have to discard five men before the kickoff as he travelled to Asturias will all the players at the first team plus Fabril’s duo David Rochela and Diego Seoane.

Precisely Ourense-born Diego Seoane, who might be a starter, was saying that he isn’t feeling the pressure at this crucial point of the season, “When I go out to the pitch I am not thinking if the team is screwed or what, I just think of winning and that’s it. I love to play all the games and the better if you are playing for something. I don’t feel any pressure or something like that. I just love to play. The team needs to notice for what we are playing for. We need to create scoring opportunities and whatever we might need. We just have to win, period.”

Meanwhile, Laure was saying that, ”We are getting out of time and must seize any chance we could have in order to add the three points; it is crucial for the permanence. I don’t know if it will be enough with 43 points, I just hope it will be like that. I just think that any team down there, Getafe, Osasuna or us… is able to win two more games. So it seems that salvation will be more complicated on this year. Only a few matches are left and if we don’t add the three points now then things will be complicated. Our intention is to add the three points as only four games are remaining, and we can’t be speculating of other results.”

Finally, Pablo Álvarez was admitting that Deportivo’s players haven’t matched the expectations for the current season, ”For the quality at the team Depor should be higher, but it hasn’t been a good season for us. La liga doesn’t forgive you and we are where we deserve to be for not doing the right things. The problem is that we weren’t counting with this and there are teams that are more prepared to handle these kinds of situations.”

List of picked players (23) Aranzubia, Manu (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Laure, Colotto, Aythami, Ze Castro, Rochela, Seoane (defenders); Juan Domínguez, Juan Rodríguez, Rubén Pérez, Valerón, Michel, Pablo Álvarez, Saúl, Desmarets, Guardado (midfielders); Xisco, Riki, Adrian, Lassad and Sand (strikers).

The situation has changed a lot for Sporting Gijón within the last two months; and it’s that at the beginning of March the team was suffocated as it was living inside the relegation zone. Now, the Asturians are tenth at the standings and are more worried of what could occur on next season than of what will happen in the next four matchdays. This little miracle is possible since Los Rojiblancos were able to add seventeen of the last twenty-four points in dispute, only losing once within the last eight matches and even clinching surprising results, like the 1-0 win over Real Madrid at the Bernabéu (matchday 30).

Now they only need one more point in order to mathematically secure the permanence, and the lack of tension can be noticed in Gijón. As example the fact that coach Manolo Preciado was filming a rock video during the week, or the fact that on Thursday the club was already announcing the design of the shirts for next season.

Preciado is aware of this lack of tension and for this reason he will release the list of picked players until hours before the game. For the match against Depor, Preciado has the casualty of four men: winger Diego Castro (hamstring strain), striker Nacho Novo (suspended), right-back Rafael Sastre (knee) and goalkeeper Iván Cuéllar ´Pichu´ (hamstring strain). The main casualty is the one of Galician Diego Castro, who is the Pichichi at the team with nine goals scored on the season.

About the lineup for the match, Preciado has been doubting between a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 scheme; on Thursday he was testing with a trivote figure at midfield, but by Friday he was already returning to the 4-2-3-1 draw, which means only one change compared to the team that drew at Levante (0-0). The defensive sector will be the same, with Juan Pablo at the goal, Madrilenian Alberto Lora performing at the right-back position, while U-21 international player José Ángel Valdés will cover the left sector, then ex-Valladolid Iván Hernández and Catalan Alberto Tomás Botía will perform at the centre of the defense.

At midfield territory, Uruguayan Sebastián Eguren and 23-year old Ignacio Cases will be the two pivotes in the formation, this last midfielder was formed at Sporting B and has impressed with his performance since the beginning of the year. He debuted on January 9 against Racing Santander and since that day he has played fifteen games scoring one goal.

The novelty for the game is the presence of ex-Tenerife man Ayoze García Pérez, he is a left winger that has played ten games on the liga campaign and that hasn’t scored a goal yet, his tough missing is to claim the spot of Diego Castro, meanwhile Miguel Ángel de Las Cuevas will be the playmaker in the formation, Luis Morán will cover the right wing, while David Barral will be the central attacker. De Las Cuevas has scored five times on the liga tournament, while Barral has added four goals to his tally.

De Las Cuevas is an old wish of Lendoiro and Lotina, actually Depor was able to include a buyout option over the winger as part of the transfer of Filipe Luis to Atletico, however this complex operation never took place, during the week the Valencian player talked of this issue, ”Since the first moment I said that nobody talked with me about this. I never spoke with anyone at Depor. I am fine on here, and will only change Sporting for another team with different goals, and Deportivo is just like us, and instead of going there I prefer to stay at Sporting, place where people has treated me really well and I’m very happy on here.”

He was also explaining his expectations towards the match, because he thinks that the anxieties of Depor are a factor that can be exploited, ”The only thing that matters for Depor is a victory and will go out for everything, because it has a complicate calendar. We must know how to play with that anxiety and claim the match. For us it is enough with a draw, and for that reason we have an advantage against them.”

List of picked players: Not released.

Sporting: (4-2-3-1) Juan Pablo – Lora, Iván Hernández, Botía, José Ángel –Eguren, Cases – Luis Morán, De Las Cuevas, Ayoze – Barral.
Deportivo: (4-1-3-2) Aranzubia – Laure, Colotto, Aythami, Manuel Pablo – Rubén Pérez – Juan Domínguez, Juan Rodríguez, Guardado – Riki, Xisco.
Referee: Javier Estrada Fernandez (16 games on the season, only 4 wins for the visiting team)
Kick-off: 18h00 CET (El Molinón)
Head-to-head Vs. Sporting: 29 wins for Depor, 17 draws, 21 wins for Sporting (Primera & Segunda)
Record at El Molinón: 8 wins for Depor, 7 draws, 18 wins for Sporting (Primera & Segunda)



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