Squad news


23 Feb 2013
Real Madrid return to the Riazor trying to demonstrate that the curse is over; Depor are waiting for them hoping to start the reaction towards the permanence. Valerón returns and Evaldo is out of the game.

This is a match between the current champion in la liga, third place at the standings so far, and the worst Deportivo at Primera División, so it’s easy to find big differences between both teams, as example the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo (24) has almost scored the same number of goals than the whole Depor’s squad (28), but there are two interesting stats for this game.

The first is that Deportivo is arriving after suffering five straight defeats at Liga BBVA (CA Osasuna, Valencia CF, Getafe CF, Granada CF and Sevilla CF). It’s just the third time that the Galician side suffers a similar streak playing at Primera División; they also suffered five straight losses between the seasons 1968/69 and 1969/70.

And the record was settled before that as Deportivo lost seven straight games in this league: the last three of the season 1966/67 (Athletic Bilbao, FC Barcelona and Las Palmas) plus the first four in the campaign 1968/69, just after spending a year at Segunda (CD Malaga, Real Madrid, RCD Espanyol and Las Palmas). So, the Blanquiazul outfit is trying to avoid their second worst record at the top flight.

The second stat is the so famous curse of Real Madrid playing at the Riazor. Los Blancos have only won two games in La Coruña within the last two decades. In that same period they won more matches at the Camp Nou (3), San Mamés (8), Sánchez Pizjuán (9), Mestalla (11) and the, Vicente Calderón (12).

Beyond this, The Riazor is the second stadium where Real Madrid has scored the lesser number of goals within the last two decades. And it’s that the Madrilenians have only scored 17 goals within their last twenty visits to the Riazor, ending ended scoreless in seven of their last ten visits to A Coruña. The only place where they have scored lesser goals within the last twenty years is the Camp Nou (14), while in other mythic stadium in Spain they have scored more than the double of that mark: San Mamés (37), Sánchez Pizjuán (38), Mestalla (40) and the Vicente Calderón (41)

Similar is the picture regarding the goals allowed in those big stadiums; the Riazor and the Camp Nou are the field where Real Madrid has allowed the largest number goals playing in liga (40) within the last two decades. The other stadiums: Sánchez Pizjuán (32), Mestalla (26) and the Calderón (17).

Juan Carlos Valerón returns in order to play his first game as a starter in 2013. El Flaco was a normal starter with Oltra as he barely missed a game, the arrival of Domingos Paciência changed the picture as he became into a bench warmer. He only appeared three times (68 minutes) in the six games that the Portuguese spent at the club, always as a substitute, this since the ex-Depor trainer was looking for a more “combative” player for the role of playmaker.

Initially, the arrival of new boss Fernando Vázquez didn’t change this picture as he used the same squad of Domingos, but the Galician tactician already said that he was trying to give continuity to the draw. Now, after spending two weeks at the club, Vázquez is ready to make changes to the formation. And the first modification is the appearance of Valerón as the playmaker in the formation.

The Canarian is making his first appearance as a starter in 2013, and it’s also his game number 315 playing for Depor at Primera División. Only three men has played more games at the elite wearing the Blanquiazul shirt: Fran (435), Mauro Silva (369) and Manuel Pablo (338).

It was commented that Juan Dominguez could be also making his return to the starting formation, but it will be too risky to play with two offensive men at midfield; actually Vázquez said in his press conference that the only way to beat Madrid is to copy what AC Milan did to FC Barcelona in midweek, which means to have two defensive centre midfielders. In this sense it is now expected that Álex Bergantiños or Paulo Assunção will have the chance to perform on the sector.

Another change calling the attention is the exit of Brazilian Evaldo Fabiano, heavily criticized on this season, so the player claiming his spot at the left side of the defense is Ayoze Diaz, precisely the most criticized player of the past season at Segunda División.

The rest of the team is the normal one, with Dani Aranzubia at the goal, Sílvio Azevedo remains at the right-back position, while Carlos Marchena returns from suspension in order to join Ze Castro at the central positions of the defense. The Portuguese is dragging some muscle problems, but it’s expected that he will be a starter. At midfield, Colombian Abel Aguilar is joining Álex or Assunção in the pivote functions.

In attack, Bruno Gama will stay at the right wing despite his poor form in the major part of the season, who are having a positive performance are Portuguese Pizzi and Madrilenian Riki. The first has scored seven goals plus providing five assists, while the second in the top-scorer at the team with nine goals in favour. Riki is at the edge of been the first player at the team that scores ten or more goals at Primera since Diego Tristán (11, 2006/07).

Laure is the only player staying at the injury room; another right-back defender at the team, Manuel Pablo, is suspended, while the players out for tactical reasons are centre-back Aythami Artiles, left-back Evaldo Fabiano and André Santos.  Fernando Vázquez picked 19 players for the game, this in order to cover any possible last-minute problem with Ze Castro, so one of the names in the list will fall before the kick-off.

Riki talked before the game and said that the team will fight despite the complicate scenario in la liga, ”Reality says that we only have 16 points in 24 matchdays, also that salvation is eight points away and the fans could think that the goal is impossible, but the team is not dead; we will try to fight in all the games. I was taught to fight until the end. As long as there’s life, there’s hope.”

Marchena also talked of the subject, ”My hopes are intact and my morale is at the top now. The situation might be difficult, but these kinds of challenges are what everybody loves to face and fix. A victory over Real Madrid can turn everything, it brings a lot of things, much more and the three points would be fantastic.”

Meanwhile, Álex Bergantiños said that, ”Fourteen games still remaining, but must start by winning the first one. We have suffered five straight losses and must have our goals to gain confidence and not to think beyond that. It’s useless to be thinking of clinching seven or eight straight victories if we don’t achieve the first. We must be focused in the short-term; we need to work and to win the next game no matter who the rival is.”

Finally, Daniel Aranzubia was very sincere when he analyzed the current situation of Deportivo, ”"We aren't the worst team at Primera, but this isn't a matter of names and players. We aren't doing the right things or others having a worst team are doing a better job. We are the worst team, because we are the last place, though we don’t see ourselves as the worst team, so we need to start climbing up.”

List of picked players (19): Aranzubia, Lux (goalkeepers); Sílvio, Kaká, Ze Castro, Marchena, Ayoze (defenders); Álex Bergantiños, Abel Aguilar, Jesús Vázquez, Juan Domínguez, Assunção, Bruno Gama, Pizzi, Salomão, Camuñas ,Valerón (midfielders); Riki & Nélson Oliveira (strikers)

The current champion is having a hard time in la liga; they are sixteen points behind leaders FC Barcelona and many people already believe that the tournament is decided. There has been some friction between the media and coach José Mourinho, to the point that it’s rumoured that he will leave the club during the summer. But for now the season of Real Madrid is reaching the most decisive point, the precise moment in which it will be decided if they will add titles or not, and Depor is just in the middle of it.

After the visit to the Riazor, the Madrilenians have a double meeting against Barca, on Tuesday for the second-leg in Copa Del Rey that will decide one of the finalists in the tournament and later, on next weekend, both teams collide again in la liga, and then Madrid will pay a visit to Manchester United FC in the second-leg of the Champions League knockout stage. Ten days that surely will mark the remaining of the season for them.

So, it shouldn’t be strange to realize that there’s a little interest in the match at the Riazor; no one is talking of this game;  everybody inside Madrid –with the exceptions of Morata and Pepe- is only talking of what lies ahead and not of the meeting in A Coruña. Even Mourinho avoided to talk to the media and neither his assistant, Aitor Karanka, di it.

Striker Karim Benzema was dragging physical problems and was left out of the game, also centre midfielder Xabi Alonso. The list for the game is composed by 20 players, including three keepers as Castilla’s Jesús Fernández is part of the trip. The other youngster part of the team is centre midfielder José Rodríguez. So there are three players from Castilla, including the presence of Morata.

In the end the formation is a 4-2-3-1 alternating some men that didn’t play in the last game against Rayo Vallecano, normal starters, one youngster and Cristiano Ronaldo The Portuguese star won’t skip this clash. New signing Diego López will remain defending the goal; ex-Depor Álvaro Arbeloa returns from suspension in order to play at the right-back position, Brazilian Marcelo Vieira comes out of the bench in order to perform at the left, while French Raphaël Varane is joining Képler Laveran ‘Pepe’ at the central positions. Both were the starting couple against Rayo.

Ghanaian Michael Essien joins Croatian Luka Modrić at midfield, this last man didn’t play against Rayo. Brazilian Ricardo Izecson dos Santos ´Kaká´ still looking for redemption at the Madrilenian club and performs in the playmaking function; Argentine Ángel Di Maria attacks from the right wing, Cristiano Ronaldo does it from the left and the youngsters in the formation is Álvaro Morata, who will perform at the centre of the attack. He’s 20 and already scored 7 goals on this liga season.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo is the second best scorer at Primera División with 24 goals in favour, three of them scored in the 5-1 win of the first round. Totally, the Portuguese star has netted six goals in four matches against Deportivo. Gonzalo Higuaín will be the alternative on the bench; the Argentine is the second best scorer at the team, though he has only scored once against Depor.

Precisely, Morata was talking about Depor; he analyzed the importance of the meeting, ”We know it’s going to be a tough meeting at the Riazor. All the rivals always give their best before Real Madrid; especially having a new coach that will do anything possible to overcome the present situation. Tomorrow there’s an important game against Deportivo, and later we have games that are going to mark the rest of the season. When these games arrive we will see how to face them, knowing that it will be difficult, but conscious that we’re capable of facing these challenges.”

Pepe was the other player talking of the game, ”Riki scored against us when we played on here, but I believe that their strength is the union between the players and the fans of Deportivo, which is pretty strong. Deportivo are highly motivated, because they’re facing Real Madrid.”

List of picked players (20): Adán, Jesús, Diego López (goalkeepers); Varane, Pepe, Coentrão, Carvalho, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Albiol (defenders); Khedira, Kaká, Özil, Essien, Modric, Callejón, Di María (midfielders); Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín and Morata (strikers).

Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Aranzubia – Sílvio, Marchena, Ze Castro, Ayoze – Abel Aguilar, Álex Bergantiños or Assunção – Bruno Gama, Valerón, Pizzi – Riki.
Real Madrid: (4-2-3-1) Diego López – Arbeloa, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo – Essien, Modrić – Di Maria, Kaká, Ronaldo – Morata.
Referee: Alfons Xavier Álvarez Izquierdo
Kick-off: 20h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs. Real Madrid: 18 wins for Depor, 19 draws, 46 wins for Real Madrid (Primera)
Record at the Riazor: 16 wins for Depor, 14 draws, 11 wins for Real Madrid (Primera)



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