Competition news

PREVIEW: DEPORTIVO – VALENCIA (LIGA)

21 May 2011
Judgment day for Deportivo; the Galicians need the win in order to avoid complications and Lotina plans to present the same squad that defeated Athletic, while the Valencians arrive relaxed, but with a pretty strong team.

STATISTICS: THE NIGHTMARE OF THE RIAZOR
It’s the final matchday in liga and after all the speculation it’s now pretty clear that Deportivo needs to clinch one more victory in order to achieve the permanence without needing any help from the outside. The problem is that the rival for the occasion is precisely the team that has achieved the better results at the Riazor within the last six years: Valencia CF. 

And it’s that among the eleven clubs that have been accompanying Depor at Primera División throughout the last six years (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Osasuna, Villarreal, Getafe, Sevilla FC, RCD Espanyol, RCD Mallorca and Atletico Madrid) the Valencians are the only ones that haven’t lost at the Riazor during the period.

Los Ches have clinched four wins and two draws in the period, including a devastating 5-1 win on the season 2004/05, which is Depor’s worst home liga defeat within the last decade.  The last liga win of Depor over Valencia occurred on October 25, 2003, a 2-1 win at the Riazor with goals of Valerón and Tristán, and with Mista scoring for the visitors.

It has been a good season for Valencia as they already clinched the third place, which means that they are the leading force after giant clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona.  Their stronger point is the striking line as they have scored 62 goals in liga, which is the third best mark in the tournament, only behind Real Madrid (94) and Barcelona (92), but their weak point is the defense as they have leaked 44 goals, it might be the fifth best mark on the competition, but it’s a similar mark to Depor as the Galicians have just allowed one more goal.

Meanwhile, Deportivo will try to clinch its ninth home win on the season; in the three previous seasons with Lotina the team has always clinched at least nine home victories, while in the two last seasons with Caparrós the team never passed from the mark of six liga wins at the Riazor.

DEPORTIVO: THE KEY IS TO SCORE GOALS
Lotina’s Deportivo has only scored 31 goals on the season; it’s the worst mark at the Galician club since the campaign 1972/1973 (22) and within the last decade it’s the third worst mark at Primera División. And it’s that since the year 2002 only three clubs have scored 31 or lesser goals in one single liga tournament, and the three of them ended at Segunda División: CD Numancia (30 goals, 2004/05, 19th place), Real Murcia 29 goals, 20003/04, 20th place) and Rayo Vallecano (31 goals, 2002/03, 20th place).

Luckily for Depor its defense has been the key factor to stay out of relegation, at least until this point on the season. The Galicians have only allowed 45 goals after 37 games (the 6th best mark in liga) and it already clinched eleven clean sheets, but now the key is to score some goals, because Deportivo needs the victory in order to clear, once and for all, the shadow of relegation. Any other result means to depend on others.

Depor has ended scoreless in twenty of the thirty-seven matchdays played so far, that’s a negative record in the history of the club.  The problem is related to the tiny power of the team up front, just to mention the fact that the Galicians have just created 381 attempts to score on the season (10.30 per game), that’s the second worst mark in la liga, and it means the half of Real Madrid (682), the leader on this department.

Lotina is aware of this and is trying to recall the best version of his team, which was the 4-3.3 scheme that scored twice against Sporting Gijón and also against Athletic Bilbao. It’s a solidarity formation in which the strikers, the playmaker and the attacking midfielder are constantly switching positions, which in the end trend to create more scoring opportunities.

The men chose to lead the attack are Adrian López and Iván Sánchez-Rico Soto ‘Riki’; both are living opposite situations; the Asturian is having his best season ever with eight goals added to his tally and with several positive reviews on his performances, while the Madrilenian is having an unfortunate season due to the injuries, he was the Pichichi at the team on last season, but now he has only been a starter in seven times scoring three goals.

Juan Carlos Valerón will be their guidance, the Canarian is seeing a lot of action at this last stage on the season and many hopes are on him and on his accurate passes. El Flaco will be supported by Andrés Guardado; the Mexican has just scored twice on the season (both goals against Getafe eight months ago) and had a grey performance against Athletic, but his moves in attack are considered vital in the attempt to create scoring opportunities.

Behind the ex-Atlas winger, Rubén Pérez and Juan Rodriguez will be performing on the pivote functions. And the defense will be the same one of past matches, with Aranzubia at the goal, Manuel Pablo, who on Friday renewed for two more seasons,  will play on the left-back position, Laure doing the same on the right, while the central couple will be composed by Albert Lopo and Diego Colotto.

Antonio Tomás and Ze Castro are the two players ending the season at the injury room, while José Sand is in Argentina with his newborn baby. The rest of players were picked for the meeting, though Aythami (suspended) and Javito (transfer) are unavailable to play. The two players of Fabril picked for the match are central defender David Rochela and right-back Diego Seoane.

Before the game the players were commenting the importance of the meeting, Adrian was saying that it is the most important match in his career, “Since I’m here at Deportivo, Saturday’s match is the most important game in my career. I lived something similar at Alavés, we were trying to avoid relegation during the last matchdays, and we were lucky as we were saved. The true it’s that it was a happy ending and now I hope that it will be repeated on Saturday.”

Similar were the thoughts of keeper Aranzubia, ”It is among the most important games in the history of the club, perhaps we had prettiest ones: semifinals in Champions League, finals in Copa Del Rey and important matches to win the liga title; in this one we aren’t playing for a title, but it is highly important.”

Experienced captain Manuel Pablo was also having the same opinion, “The feeling on the street is that this is the most important game since I am here. It was similar when we won la liga, but looking at the fans within the last weeks, as they came here to support us during the trainings, it makes you think that this match is the most important one. I can’t see Depor at Segunda, it can occur yes, but I can’t imagine it.”

And about the entity of the rival, the Canarian defender was saying that, "It is a tough rival, but throughout our history we always played great games against the big clubs, even clinching more points than against the others. We aren't afraid."

Riki was sharing the view of his team mates, ”I always faced peaceful endings of season, and due to the circumstances I can say that this is the most important game in my career. If we can score soon, the better. We must have the same intensity of recent games, but the matches always last ninety minutes and Valencia is a great team, so we can’t get mad.”

Even president Lendoiro talked before the game; he wanted to transmit a message of tranquility as he announced the renewal of Manuel Pablo for the next two seasons. During the press conference he said that, ”I never saw this feeing before at the city; I am sure that the players will go out for everything. It will be an historic moment to reach the bottom, and then return stronger than before.”

List of picked players (23): Aranzubia, Manu (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Seoane, Morel, Laure, Lopo, Colotto, Rochela (defenders); Rubén Pérez, Juan Rodríguez, Juca, Juan Domínguez, Guardado, Saúl, Pablo Álvarez, Míchel, Valerón, Desmarets (midfielders); Lassad, Riki, Adrián and Xisco (strikers).

VALENCIA:  A TEAM ON VACATIONS?
It has been a pleasant week for Valencia CF as the team already clinched the third place in la liga, the interest has been focused in the possible renewal of coach Unai Emery, the good-bye of Vicente Rodriguez and the possible exits and arrivals of players. The club even had time to officially announce the signing of Almeria’s keeper Diego Alvés. Besides, the players just completed a couple of training sessions on the week and it’s pretty clear that the Valencian team is relaxed and even careless of this meeting.

But Emery wants more as he is targeting to match the number of points added on the past season (71), he is ready to present the best possible lineup and travelled to La Coruña with the best that he has. The Basque coach only has the casualties of keeper Vicente Guaita (flu) and winger Pablo Hernández (hamstring), while midfielder ’Chori’ Domínguez, winger Vicente Rodriguez, side defender Miguel, striker Nacho González and defender Ricardo Costa were left out for tactical reasons.

There are no B players on the list of 18 picked men, but it isn’t a surprise as Valencia Mestalla (Valencia B) is taking part on the weekend of the promotion playoff at Segunda B (against Alcobendas Sports). The biggest doubt is who will be up front. Emery is planning to use a 4-4-2 lineup, and on Thursday he was testing with the couple composed by Aritz Aduriz and Jonás Gonçalves.

But ex-Real Madrid Roberto Soldado is pushing strongly in order to be a starter; he is anxiously waiting to be picked to the national team of Spain and believes that the easiest way to do it is to end as the best Spanish scorer in la liga, so far he has scored 17 goals, while Barca’s David Villa and Sevilla’s Álvaro Negredo have added 19 goals to their tally, so he is hoping to score twice in order to beat them in the quest for a spot at the national team.

However, the other two competitors for the positions in attack are also dangerous options; with former Mallorca man Aritz Aduriz as the second best scorer at the team (9 goals), while winter signing Brazilian Jonas Gonçalves Oliveira has impressed with his recent performance, he already scored three goals in twelve appearances in la liga.

The rest of the squad seems decided, with veteran César Sánchez, probably saying good-bye to Valencia, appearing at the goal, ex-Almeria Bruno Saltor playing at the right-back position, while French Jeremy Mathieu, who scored in the first round match, will cover the left side. The central positions at defense will be for Angel Dealbert and Lithuanian Marius Stankevicius.

At midfield, David Albelda and Argentine Ever Maximiliano Banega will cover the pivote positions, ex-Betis Joaquín Sánchez will attack from the right wing, while Juan Manuel Mata will do it from the left flank. It is a pretty strong squad, remembering that ex-Real Madrid Mata has scored eight times in liga, while Joaquin has added four goals to his tally.

Ricardo Costa, who in the end wasn’t picked for the game, was saying that the team wants the victory at the Riazor, ”We know that we have secured the third place, but right now we must respect the rival. Truly we are playing without hurries, but will try to win despite knowing that they will play strongly as they need to win this match, but we must respect our club. I always play in order to win and think that we don’t need to be paid in order to win.” However, he joked about the possibility of receiving a payment from a third club, ”My car is there and the boot is open [he laughed]”

List of picked players (18): César, Moyà (goalkeepers); Bruno, Dealbert, David Navarro, Stankevicius, Jordi Alba, Mathieu (defenders); Albelda, Maduro, Topal, Éver Banega, Joaquín, Tino Costa, Mata (midfielders); Jonas, Aduriz and Soldado (strikers)

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Deportivo: (4-3-3) Aranzubia – Laure, Colotto, Lopo, Manuel Pablo – Juan Rodríguez, Guardado, Rubén Pérez – Adrián, Valerón, Riki.
Valencia: (4-4-2) César - Bruno, Stankevicius, Dealbert, Mathieu - Joaquín, Albelda, Banega, Mata – Jonas, Aduriz or Soldado.
Referee: César Muñiz Fernández (21 games on the season, 11 wins for the local team)
Kick-off: 22h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs. Valencia: 26 wins for Depor, 18 draws, 45 wins for Valencia (Primera & Segunda)
Record at the Riazor: 17 wins for Depor, 11 draws, 16 wins for Valencia (Primera & Segunda)

ARCHIVE NEWS MAY/11

ZAPPING

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