Squad news


25 Nov 2012
Deportivo try to break the spell playing away from home, but there a lot of casualties at defense reason why Oltra has to make three changes in the sector. Athletic has the same pressure, but Bielsa is recovering Muniain, Amorebieta and Iraola.

The historic San Mamés stadium has been a positive visit for Deportivo on this century; the Galician team has played eleven times there within the period only losing three times: 2002/03 (2-3), 2003/04 (0-1) and 2009/10 (0-2). In the remaining eight games the Galician outfit clinched 16 points through four wins and four draws. During the 2000’s this mark has been only improved playing at El Sardinero (22 points: 6 wins & 4 draws) and the Sánchez Pizjuán (18 points: 5 wins & 3 draws).

Actually, San Mamés is the last stadium where Deportivo clinched an away victory playing for Primera División: 1-2 on January 2, 2011. Since that day Depor have played 16 straight Primera meetings outside the Riazor only adding eight draws and suffering eight defeats. If Oltra’s team fails to achieve a victory on this match then it will tie the previous negative streak of 17 straight away clashes without a win suffered with Lotina between 2009 & 2010.

Depor represent the second worst defense at Primera with 27 goals conceded, but Athletic is third in this department with 26 goals allowed. Only 8 of those goals were conceded at San Mamés (31% of the total), and five of those goals were suffered in the opening matchday hosting Real Betis (3-5). It’s a similar scenario with the number of goals scored, because Deportivo have scored 18, while the Basques have only one less goal in favour compared to the Galicians.

Deportivo is the second worst defense at Primera División, this negative statistic is resting many points in la liga, and now, to make things worse, there are three key casualties in the defensive line. Firstly, Daniel Aranzubia is out suspended and later the two starting centre backs, Ze Castro and Carlos Marchena, are out injured, not only for this game, but also for next Thursday’s game in Copa Del Rey.

So now Oltra is forced to make three changes in the five positions at defense, and all of this visiting a team that has at least scored once in eight of its last ten home meetings. Therefore the ‘substitutes’ are assuming the responsibility to improve the defense as Depor search the way out of the relegation spots. Argentine German Lux is ready to make his second appearance on the league season after playing the second half against Valencia CF (matchday 02),  so far he has only allowed one goal taking in mind the goal of RCD Mallorca in Copa.

The responsibility for the central positions will rely on Aythami Artiles and Roderick Miranda, the Canarian already played seven times on this league tournament, six as a starter, while this is the debut at Primera for the Portuguese man, becoming into the 13th man from this country that debuts at Primera with the Galician outfit.

Roderick commented during the week his impression for been debuting in la liga, ”I’m calm, because my personality is like this; I am a tranquil person. I am willing to debut and it’s special to do it in a great stadium, facing great players and surrounded by a great environment. We need the points, but Athletic too. We will try to win, but if it isn’t possible, then at least to not lose.”

The defense is completed with the presence of Laureano Sanabria ‘Laure’ at the right-back position and Ayoze Diaz performing at the left side. At midfield, Colombian Abel Aguilar returns in order to join Álex Bergantiños at the central positions.

Pizzi, who is the current Pichichi of the team with four goals in favour, is returning from suspension in order to play at the left wing; Bruno Gama stays at the right, Juan Carlos Valerón is the playmaker and Riki the central attacker.

Together with Marchena and Ze Castro, the other two players at the injury room are left winger Diogo Salomão and striker Nélson Oliveira. Fabril’s keeper Marc Martinez has been picked for the first time for a game at Primera División; he will be the substitute on the bench.

Another novelty is that centre midfielder Jesús Vázquez has been picked for the first time on the season for a liga encounter, which left Portuguese André Santos out of the list. The other four players out for tactical reasons are right-back Diego Seoane, right winger Saul, plus left-backs Evaldo and Tiago Pinto

Bruno Gama commented the situation of the team regarding the large number of goals allowed and also in favour, “We try to work in both aspects: defense and attack; we must try to attack always keeping an eye in defending. Truly not everything is bad luck, because we have committed errors, but we also have made good things. We must keep scoring, but trying to not allow so many goals.”

Finally, Laure is convinced that Deportivo is having a good chance to win due to the characteristics of the rival, “In this game the key is our proposal and I’m convinced it will be different to the previous two games, because the rival will be searching for us, and in an open game we’ve more possibilities to win. We must be focused in the outcome of the ball. I believe it will be a great boost if we are able to clinch a clean sheet.”

List of picked players (18): Lux, Marc Martinez (goalkeepers); Laure, Manuel Pablo, Roderick, Ínsua, Aythami, Ayoze (defenders); Álex Bergantiños, Juan Dominguez, Abel Aguilar, Jesús Vázquez, Bruno Gama, Pizzi, Camuñas, Valerón (midfielders); Riki & Bodipo (strikers).

It has been a twisted year for Athletic Bilbao and coach Marcelo Bielsa; after been hailed last season with their impressive performance in the Spanish competitions and the UEFA Europa League, now everything seems like a distant memory. And it’s that the Basques are already eliminated from Europe and have lost the half of the twelve liga matches played so far, reason why they’re currently lying in a disappointing 14th position.

The best demonstration of the quick fall in Bilbao is striker Fernando Llorente, who last season scored 29 goals in 52 official games. He called the attention of big clubs like Juventus FC and Chelsea FC, but he stayed at Athletic despite this is his last year of contract. The point is that he didn’t want to renew and is currently at war against the Basque club.

The club has punished him and he has only played nine official games scoring once. In liga he has only played 209 minutes in four games as a substitute. And now, with Deportivo in front, the Navarran will be a starter for the first time as Aritz Aduriz is suspended and there are big questions on how the strict public at San Mamés will welcome him. It could be the last opportunity to get forgiveness, same thing that Athletic is searching before the disenchanted fans.

In midweek Athletic wasn’t forced to travel to Israel in order to play for the Europa League and therefore the team is fresh, besides Bielsa has been boosted as he has recovered centre-back Fernando Amorebieta (hip), playmaker Iker Muniain (adductor) and right-back Andoni Iraola (muscle). The trio was in doubt throughout the week and just joining the trainings until Saturday. In the end the Argentine coach is only missing Aduriz, who has scored 7 of the 17 Athletic’s goals in liga, plus centre-back Carlos Gurpegi (hamstring strain).

For the game it’s expected a 4-2-3-1 formation; with ex-Espanyol Gorka Iraizoz defending the goal, captain Andoni Iraola  performs at the right-back position, Borja Ekiza  joins Amorebieta at the centre of the defense, while Mikel San José covers the left sector.

Ander Iturraspe and Óscar de Marcos perform at midfield, Markel Susaeta, who last week was called by the senior squad of Spain, plays at the right wing, Muniain, one of the most promising players in la liga, attacks from the left;  Ander Herrera returns from suspension and will advance his position in order to perform as a playmaker. Finally, Fernando Llorente is the central attacker; the 27-year-old man will be searching for his first goal facing Depor.

Susaeta said before the game that this is an important clash for Athletic, ”It’s going to be an intense match. Both sides need the victory, we need the three points in order to leave the bottom places and it will be pretty hard. This year hasn’t been easy for anyone. We were carrying with two victories before playing before Madrid, but lately things haven’t been fine. Right now we need the three points for Sunday. We are allowing a lot of goals and what we need to do is to put more pressure up front and in this way we can achieve the victory.”

Finally, Ander Herrera said that Deportivo should be occupying at better position at the standings, ”The visit of Deportivo is complicated. Off course, they have too much team to end relegated and I believe their situation doesn’t correspond with the good squad they have. I was surprised with them at the beginning of the season and now they seem to be living a tough moment. But we must realize that the calendar hasn’t been easy, because to play against Real Madrid and Barca is a fact that can condition your performance.”

List of picked players (18): Iraizoz, Raúl Fernandez (goalkeepers); Aurtenetxe, Amorebieta, San José, Iraola, Xabier Castillo, Ekiza, Ramalho (defenders); Iturraspe, De Marcos, Susaeta, Isma López, Muniain, Ander Herrera (midfielders); Llorente, Ibai Gómez and Toquero (strikers)

Athletic Bilbao:
(4-2-3-1) Iraizoz - Iraola, Ekiza, Amorebieta, Aurtenetxe - Iturraspe, De Marcos - Susaeta, Ander Herrera, Muniain - Llorente.
Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Lux – Laure, Aythami, Roderick, Ayoze – Álex Bergantiños, Abel Aguilar – Bruno Gama, Valerón, Pizzi – Riki.
Referee: Alfonso Álvarez Izquierdo
Kick-off: 17h00 CET (San Mamés)
Head-to-head Vs. Athletic: 33 wins for Depor, 22 draws, 27 wins for Athletic (Primera)
Record at San Mamés: 10 wins for Depor, 11 draws, 20 wins for Athletic (Primera)



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