Competition news


18 Nov 2012
Depor return to the warmth of the Riazor searching for the balance and to escape from relegation. Marchena, Ayoze and Abel Aguilar are back. Levante, meanwhile, arrives to the Riazor leaving the sweetest moment in their history.

Levante UD might be enjoying a solid season in la liga and the UEFA Europa League, but they have always faced problems visiting the Riazor; actually the Valencians represent the second team that, after at least ten visits, it has scored the lesser number of goals there playing in a league competition (Primera, Segunda, Segunda B & Tercera). And it’s that the Granota outfit has only scored four goals in thirteen liga visits to the Riazor, ending scoreless in ten opportunities -The club with the lesser number of goals at the Riazor is Barakaldo with only three goals scored in ten visits-

One of the three games in which they scored a goal was on the last visit: 0-1 on the campaign 2010/11, season that marked Depor’s relegation to Segunda. Neither Levante is having a positive away record on this campaign, so far they already lost in three of their five away meetings; their only triumph away from home was a 0-1 victory at Getafe CF (matchday 08). And it’s that the Valencians have failed to score a goal in five of their last seven visits and have failed to win in nine of their last ten away matches.

Deportivo, meanwhile, is trying to base its season in the points added at the Riazor; the Galicians haven’t been able to achieve a victory playing on the road, but at the Riazor they already clinched two wins in five matches, actually 7 of the 10 points added so far were conquered at home.

A curious situation is that Levante, despite been living inside the European zone, have scored lesser goals than Depor (13 against 18), the decisive factor has been the defense as the Galicians already allowed 25 goals, while the Valencians have only conceded 16. A lot has been said during the week regarding the aggressiveness of Levante; the Valencians represent the team that has committed more fouls in la liga (194), as a way of comparison Deportivo have only committed 121, only below FC Barcelona (112)

Big part of the reason why Deportivo is currently living inside the drop zone is for its poor defense. Currently the Blanquiazul outfit is, together with Rayo Vallecano, the side with more goals allowed in la liga (25), which by the way is the worst mark at Depor after the first eleven matchdays since the Primera season 1955/56. So far the Galicians have only clinched two clean sheets, both at the Riazor and both are precisely their only victories in the league (2-0 Vs. CA Osasuna, and 1-0 Vs. RCD Mallorca). It has been useless to see the team scoring eighteen goals in the period and all the players are aware that it’s essential to fix the inaccuracies committed in defensive tasks.

Juan Dominguez commented during the week that the key for Depor is to find a balance between the offense and to improve the defense, ”Clearly we have allowed a lot of goals, no one can’t deny it, but still, we have added these points. Despite the large number of goals against us, we are there together with several teams, only one game away from the upper teams. We must fix the problem with the allowed goals, but without affecting the attack, because we are scoring a lot.”

One of the captains at the team, Juan Carlos Valerón, is also conscious of the problem, ”Those are a lot of goals, we are conscious of the situation. The day of Mallorca we clinched a clean sheet, while in Zaragoza we went out with a bag of five goals, and let’s see if can have a more balanced team and then we can win more games.”

The good news is that Oltra is recovering two players that will help him to strengthen the options for the defense: centre back Carlos Marchena and left-back Ayoze Diaz, duo that missed the past game at La Romareda due to a hamstring injury. Now both men are going directly into the starting eleven that will face Levante UD. The defense is completed with Dani Aranzubia at the goal, Laure performing at the right side and Ze Castro is the other central defender. It calls the attention that Tiago Pinto wasn’t even called for the game, just when he was a starter against Zaragoza seven days ago.

Another boost for Oltra is the return of Abel Aguilar; the Colombian midfielder has been out for a month due to a muscle injury, but he won’t be a starter in the game  as the Valencian coach will keep trusting in the Galician combination between Álex Bergantiños and Juan Dominguez. Abel commented on Saturday about his presence on the bench, “We all want to play, but must remain calm. The coach is the one that decides, he will decide the best in order to win the game.”

The 4-2-3-1 figure is completed with Bruno Gama, the most in-form player at the team scoring twice within the last two games, performing at the right wing, Valerón is the playmaker, Riki the central attacker and Javier Camuñas plays his second game as a starter covering the left wing. The Madrilenian is claiming the spot of Pizzi, who is suspended for the clash.

Winger Saúl Fernandez was picked for the first time on the liga season; he will be an alternative on the bench. The players out for tactical reasons are centre midfielder Jesús Vázquez, right-back Diego Seoane, centre back Roderick Miranda, plus left-backs Evaldo and Tiago Pinto. The only players staying at the injury room are striker Nélson Oliveira and left winger Diogo Salomão

Álex Bergantiños said before the game that it’s an important meeting for Deportivo, “It’s important to win on Sunday; we know it’s a difficult rival and are aware that the game is going to be uncomfortable. We must win on Sunday. The rivals always come after facing Real Madrid and I don’t think this is going to affect them; they’re playing good football on this season and surely will come here thinking in winning the three points.”

Marchena was warning regarding the potential of the rival, “Levante defends pretty well; they have good players in attack and don’t need too much in order to harm you. They are also strong at defense and in set-pieces. Let’s hope they won’t be able to display their strengths tomorrow. It’s all passing through making a good game tomorrow and that people will go out to eat feeling happy.”

List of picked players: (18) Aranzubia, Lux (goalkeepers); Laure, Manuel Pablo, Ze Castro, Marchena, Aythami,  Ayoze (defenders); Álex Bergantiños, Juan Domínguez, Abel Aguilar, André Santos, Bruno Gama, Saúl, Camuñas, Valerón (midfielders); Riki & Bodipo (strikers)

Humble club Levante UD was used to suffer and to only aspire to lower goals like to think of the permanence, but things changed a lot within the last two years; the arrival of coach Juan Ignacio Martínez, plus some intelligent signings, put the team on the map and the Valencians were the big surprise of last season ending sixth and qualifying for the UEFA Europa League for the first time.

The exit of Arouna Koné and the vertigo that usually affects the little clubs competing in three tournament were a big concern among the fans, but the team has managed pretty well the situation. Armed only with a budget of €23 million the Granota outfit is currently sixth in la liga and it’s really close to achieve the qualification to the knockout stage in the Europa League; they only failed on Copa before Segunda B club UD Melilla, but still can change the course in the returning game (they lost 0-1 in the first-leg)

Levante can secure the pass to the next round in the Europa league on Thursday if they can defeat or at least reply the result of FC Twente as the Valencians visit Swedish club Helsingborgs IF; despite the importance of that game it’s expected that coach JIM isn’t going to reserve any of his normal starters for the trip to the Riazor. Not even after the exhausting clash against Real Madrid at the Ciutat de Valencia, match in which there were a lot of incidents; luckily for them there are no suspensions for the game against Depor.

In this sense it’s expected a 4-2-3-1 figure, with ex-Depor Gustavo Munúa defending the goal, former Valladolid Pedro López performs at the right-back position, ex-Celta Juan Francisco García ´Juanfran´ plays at the left, while the central defenders are David Navarro and Sergio Ballesteros, duo that was under fire after a series of incidents against Real Madrid that ended with an elbow against Cristiano Ronaldo.

Senegalese Papakouly Diop was going to be a starter in this game, but surprisingly he was suspended by FIFA. He didn’t attend the call of his national team for the friendly game against Niger. The player and his club argued that he was injured, but the Senegalese Football Federation (FSV) didn’t believe him and a protest was presented to FIFA, and this entity decided to suspend the midfielder.

Therefore ex-Depor Miguel Alfonso Herrero ‘Michel’ is going to be a starter in the game. Michel couldn’t help Hércules CF on last season in order to clinch the promotion to Primera, but this year he’s already the second best scorer of the team with three goals in favour. He’s joining Vicente Iborra at midfield.

French Nabil El Zhar attacks from the right wing, while Juan Luis Gómez ´Juanlu’ does it from the left, this last player is returning to the Riazor, place where he suffered a serious injury playing in last year’s Copa Del Rey tournament. Basque José Javier Barkero is the playmaker in the formation and Nigerian Obafemi Martins is the central attacker. Martins was pretended by Depor after the deadline in the summer window, but ended up at Levante, team where he has scored four goal, reason why he’s the current Pichichi at the team.

List of picked players: (19) Munúa, Keylor Navas (goalkeepers); Navarro, Héctor Rodas, Juanfran, Nikos, Ballesteros, Pedro López, Chris (defenders); Pallardó, Barkero, El Zhar, Iborra, Pedro Ríos, Juanlu, Michel (midfielders);Ángel, Martins & Rubén (strikers)

Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Aranzubia – Laure, Marchena, Ze Castro, Ayoze – Álex Bergantiños, Juan Domínguez – Bruno Gama, Valerón, Camuñas – Riki.
Levante: (4-2-3-1) Munúa – Pedro López, Ballesteros, David Navarro, Juanfran – Iborra, Michel – Zhar, Barkero, Juanlu - Martins
Referee: Miguel Ángel Pérez Lasa
Kick-off: 12h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs. Levante: 14 wins for Depor, 1 draw, 11 wins for Levante (Primera & Segunda)
Record at the Riazor: 10 wins for Depor, 1 draw, 2 wins for Levante (Primera & Segunda)



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