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DEPORTIVO: REVIEW SEASON 2010/11

26 May 2011
Time to revisit the matches of Deportivo during the negative campaign that has meant the relegation to Segunda División; there were key moments, like the poor start, the missed points at the last minute or the visit to Gijón.

Probably nobody was expecting for this ending, but the true is that Deportivo gave signs of the future problems since the beginning; it gave a hint that something was going wrong. Later it mixed moments of false recoveries with times when the fans lost the patience with both the coach and the players.

However the relegation should be considered as a full surprise, especially taking in mind that the team was able to live for twenty years at the elite, a record at the club and something that only Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona have matched. Besides, the team only spent seven of the thirty-eight matchdays in relegation, actually after living five straight matchdays within the last there places (between matchday 5 & 9) the Galicians lasted five months living at mid-table, sometimes closer to Europe than to hell.

FIRST ROUND
The beginning was negative as Depor was unable to clinch a victory within the first seven liga matches. The first game was a clear picture of what was going to happen later: a scoreless Deportivo. The 0-0 against Real Zaragoza (matchday 01) was a disappointing result as the team was playing at home and barely created clear scoring opportunities, the score was repeated at matchday 02, though this time it left a good taste in the mouth as it was a visit against the always tough Sevilla CF.

The third game was also a draw and it also left a positive impression despite been played at home: a 2-2 against Getafe FC. What happened was that Depor was losing 0-1 at half-time and played a great second half that meant the third point in the season. Then the first crisis at the club arrived, with three straight losses.

A 0-1 defeat at Villarreal CF (matchday 04) wasn’t unexpected, but the team played an awful game, and the worries increased as at matchday 05 the Galician team lost against UD Almeria at the Riazor (0-2). It raised the alarm bells as the result put Depor for the first time inside the relegation zone. The sorrow continues at matchday 06 as the team lost at the Santiago Bernabéu before Real Madrid.

It wasn’t a surprise, but the scandalous 1-6 was the biggest defeat for Depor, not only on this season, but within the previous five years. The result also left Depor at the last place at the standings. This negative period continued with a new 0-0 draw at home, this time against Osasuna (matchday 06) and with a disappointing 0-3 at Anoeta against Real Sociedad (matchday 07).

At this point Lotina was already questioned and the first rumors of a possible destitution began to rise, but as he did in the past the Basque coach switched the typical 4-2-3-1 into a 5-2-2-1 figure that paid good results. It was the best moment on the season for Depor as the team added ten of the next twelve points in dispute.

In this period of time Depor clinched a 3-0 win over RCD Espanyol (matchday 09), the first win on the season, a 1-2 victory at UD Levante (matchday 10), a 0-0 draw at RCD Mallorca (matchday 11) and a 3-0 win over Malaga CF (matchday 12). Also, in this period of time the Galician side passed the first round in Copa Del Rey (3-2 aggregate score over Osasuna).

The last month of competition in 2010 meant a period of ups and downs, firstly with a 0-1 loss at Racing Santander (matchday 13), while in the following game the Galicians clinched a vital 1-0 win over Hércules CF (matchday 14). Then Depor lost two valuable points at home after allowing a late equalizer from Sporting Gijón (1-1, matchday 14).

It was the last liga game on the year and Depor was living at mid-table, 5 points above the pit. And the start of 2011 was hopeful, with a miraculous 2-1 win at San Mamés against Athletic Bilbao (matchday 15), plus the qualifications to quarterfinals in Copa after eliminating Córdoba CF in the stoppage time (aggregate score 4-2).

But that good start in 2011 was just a mirage, because Deportivo just added one of the next fifteen points. Lotina’s ended the first round with the defeats against Barcelona FC (0-4, matchday 18) and Valencia CF (0-2, matchday 19). Still, Depor ended the first part of the liga tournament at the 13th place, with a comfortable five-point gap over the relegation zone.

SECOND ROUND
And that gap was reduced at the start of the second round to just one single point after the defeat at Real Zaragoza (0-1, matchday 20), the draw with Sevilla FC (3-3, matchday 21), which was painful as the team had a 2-0 advantage early in the second half, plus the defeat at Getafe (1-4, matchday 22), which was considered as one of the worst games on the season. At this point on the campaign the Galicians were also eliminated from Copa Del Rey in the quarterfinals round before UD Almeria (aggregate score 2-4).

Again Lotina was under fire and for the second time on the season it was rumoured that he was at the door out; but again his team responded and passed the next five games without been defeated. First it clinched a big 1-0 win over Villarreal (matchday 23), then it came the miraculous header of Aranzubia that meant a point in Almeria (1-1, matchday 24), plus two goalless games against Real Madrid (matchday 25) and Osasuna (matchday 26), and the period ended with a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad (matchday 27).

Thanks to this performance the team recovered the 13th spot and the five-point gap with the relegation zone. With eleven games remaining on the schedule the salvation seemed at reach. But a new bump was on the way, first Depor lost at RCD Espanyol (0-2, matchday 28) and then it suffered a painful 0-1 loss at the Riazor against Levante UD (matchday 29), painful because it was against a direct rival and because the goal came at the last minute.

But Depor had a solid reaction and clinched seven of the next nine points in dispute, the protagonist was Valerón, as he came out from the bench to transform a 0-1 loss against TCD Mallorca into a 2-1 (matchday 30), then the team clinched a 0-0 draw at Malaga CF, which was followed by a 2-0 win over Racing Santander (matchday 32).

Now, with six games remaining in the calendar, Depor was still 13th and still had a five-point gap over relegation. It seemed as a definitive situation as the Galicians were just needing two more victories to secure the permanence.

However, a tragic combination of defeats and incredible results of the direct rivals put Depor back into troubles, because a disappointing 0-1 loss at Hercules CF (matchday 33) was followed by a 0-1 loss against Atletico Madrid (matchday 34), which was played before a full Riazor. Then it came one of the key games on the season: a 2-2 draw at Sporting Gijón (matchday 35), a polemic game that had of everything, but mainly two valuable points that are missed right now.

Suddenly, Depor was again living inside the relegation zone, something that occurred for the first time in five months. The Galician team pushed for a final reaction and it was close to achieve it, first with a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Riazor (matchday 36), plus a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou against the substitutes of Barcelona (matchday 37).

Depor was still controlling its destiny, it was one point over the pit ad a victory over Valencia CF (matchday 38) would have secured the permanence, but sadly Lotina’s team lost the game 0-2 and the combination of results put Depor back in Segunda for the first time in twenty years.

* MATCHES 

ARCHIVE NEWS MAY/11

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