Competition news


21 Apr 2013
Depor’s coach talked of a final and also of facing the game with normality; he wasn’t so worried regarding the injury problems faced during the week. Athletic’s coach believes that the key for the game is to have the ball possession.

Marcelo Alberto Bielsa Caldera is an Argentine coach nicknamed ‘Loco’ (Madman) due to his eccentric behavior and innovating tactics.  This Rosario-born former defender had a short career as a footballer, but later added a  large coaching experience at American clubs Newell's Old Boys, Vélez Sársfield (Argentina), Atlas de Guadalajara and America (Mexico).

In 1998, Bielsa got the chance to train in Spain as he signed for RCD Espanyol, but he soon left the job after receiving an offer to coach the senior squad of Argentina. He spent eight years there and his biggest achievement was to conquer the 2004 Olympic Games' gold medal. Bielsa resigned at the end of that year and spent three years retired from the game. He returned in 2007 and commanded Chile to an historic campaign as his team qualified to the FIFA World Cup after a two-tournament absence, he was an idol in the South American country after the team reached the knockout-stage only falling against the Champions, Spain.

Suddenly, Bielsa was in vogue; he was linked with several European clubs and left Chile after an internal conflict inside the federation. The Argentine man was surprisingly named as the head coach of Athletic Bilbao for the season 2011/12 and he had a great year in the Basque country playing two finals, one in Copa Del Rey and another one in the UEFA Europa League, though he lost both.

Totally different has been the present season; he had several conflicts with players and even with a construction worker at the club, reason why he was close to leave during the pre-season. It was a premonition of further problems as his team has had a grey performance living at mid-table during the whole liga campaign. It’s expected that he’s going to leave during the summer. This is his first confrontation against Fernando Vázquez, but he already faced Depor at the Riazor as his Espanyol lost there during the season 1997/98 (1-0).

Depor’s coach addressed the media on Friday; he talked to reporters for seventeen minutes and gave two messages. The first is that he was quite optimistic regarding the injured players. He begun explaining the cases, “Well, at this point, 48 hours before the game, I still don’t have an exact knowledge. Abel Aguilar was having positive feelings today, though clearly he isn’t at the top. Nélson Oliveira is much better, Ze Castro has nine of ten points… and Riki has spent two days training with us. I’m optimistic in all the cases, even in the worst one: Abel Aguilar.”

“It’s a controlled risk; if we put Abel Aguilar then he might end injured, but if we have the confidence of both the player and the doctor, then it depends on me. I won’t assume further risks if I can lose the player for a full month. I would need to be pretty sure to allow a player to be part of the lineup, so tomorrow’s training is going to be definitive.” He added regarding the issue.

The Galician tactician was pretty optimistic in the case of Riki, “An injury it’s the worst thing that it can happen to any player. He was perfectly training today. I noticed he was happy and content. He’s hopeful and I think he’ll available to play.”

Neither is he worried with the casualty of Marchena, “We have lost a player that brought two goals in the previous games, but fortunately we have players that can perform at the position of Marchena. We haven’t lost Marchena as he’s back there cheering us up. I am convinced that anyone playing there will make an impeccable job, the position is well covered. So, the casualty is important, but not too important as the club has enough resources to cover it.”

There was also a comment regarding Pablo Insua, one of the alternatives for the position of centre-back, “I repeat: all the players have possibilities of been included in the list, some will fall, but all of them have a chance. Pablo Insua is a player in whom I can trust and already said that he’s the future centre-back of Deportivo.”

The second message from the press conference is that Deportivo cannot relax after winning four straight liga matches, at the same time that the whole Deportivismo should face the situation with normality,
“We are reaching a dangerous situation on here, because we start talking of several things and not of Athletic; and for me everything is Athletic, Athletic and Athletic. Secureness, calmness and normality, it’s what the team needs and what the players ask. They want to play and win the game, so we need to be focused. If we win three more games then we’ll have enough time to talk of the future. Right now the important thing is the present. I asked Valerón what I should say to the media, do you know what he told me? Normality. It’s what he told me: normality, coach. “

“It will be foolish to do what we have done and then stop. I repeat what I said before: It’s much easier to stop when you are closer to the finish line than when you are far. It’s much easier. The best example is when I make a bicycle trip of 150 kilometers, at kilometer 10, I am not thinking of stopping, neither at kilometer 50, but at the last kilometer I could walk off as I start thinking of my home. It’s real and it could happen. It’s a dangerous virus to think that it’s almost done.” El profesor added.

The Castrofeito-born coach even described the game as a final, “All the games are important, but the game against Athletic is a final for Deportivo. It’s a final for the city of A Coruña and the fans, because if we lost against Athletic and then Mallorca wins… pfff… we can be back into the hole, we must be prepared as we can lose. We’re playing in order to win, but can also lose.” [Mallorca drew 1-1 hosting Rayo Vallecano later that day]

“The fans must know that they’ve to support us, because we’re going to suffer. Sunday’s game is a first final. Of the remaining twenty-one points we must clinch, it’s closer each day, at least nine, or something like that. We need to keep winning. It’s complicated as it’s very difficult to win at Primera División. Athletic Bilbao are coming with all the will of the world in order to win, because they know that they can secure the permanence at the Riazor.” He added, just like the game against Real Zaragoza, he’s predicting a lot of suffering for the match.

Vázquez is quite happy with the behavior of the fans, “I believe the behavior of the fans is fantastic; I am not a messiah and just worked hard in order to fulfill what we have accomplished. But the team trains and is intense; we use earthly ways. I am pretty content with the fans and I’m always emotive when they are close to me.”

About the rival, he said that, “I am expecting for a very uncomfortable game for my team. Why? Because the rival always block the way out; they don’t allow you to pass the ball, they put a lot of pressure and we aren’t used to it. So, the mere fact of making a pass is complicated; it was tough for Real Madrid and it will be the same against us. And if analyze their players, they are young, fast and dangerous. We are going to suffer a lot in order to defeat them; it is clear.”

A journalist asked if he’s a fan of Marcelo Bielsa, and the response was “I am not the kind of guys that likes the myths; surely he’s a great coach, just like others out there, but I am not worried of facing Bielsa, but for been facing Athletic. I know Bielsa as I have followed him and know how he thinks. His resume is impressive.”

Finally, Fernando Vázquez confirmed that he will automatically renew his contract in case of securing the permanence this after confirming a meeting with Lendoiro, “Have you ever had breakfast with him? Well, you talk of lot of things with him. Yes, I talked to the president and we spoke of different subjects, but not regarding my renewal. We even talked of English literature. What must remain clear is that I will secure my renewal in case of cinching the permanence. As long as I know that we’ll remain at Primera División, why we will be talking of the subject? So, right now the only important thing is the game against Athletic Bilbao.”

Athletic’s coach addressed the media on Friday; he understands the difficulty of the match, “At this height of the tournament there’s no easy game, neither for Depor nor for us. We must win all the remaining games, because it’s a need and also a possibility. The urgency and the need are always big. We never imagined an accessible meeting, not at this height of the competition. There are no accessible meetings under these circumstances.”

About Deportivo, he said that, “We must valorize the streak of Deportivo, because it isn’t the normal way on the teams facing that situation. It isn’t the normal pattern followed by the teams that are trying to change a negative streak, especially if they are linked to the last part of the standings.”

The former coach of Argentina is convinced that the ball possession is going to be a determinant factor in the match, “Deportivo have based their recovery in the good game and we always tried to do that. Theoretically, it should be a game in which the creative subject will be the centre of the dispute. The key at the Riazor is with the team having the most of the ball possession.”

Left-back Aymeric Laporte is doubtful for the game and Bielsa even confirmed the name of his possible substitute, “Throughout today and tomorrow we are going to valorize his condition and will decide if he’s going to make the trip; any way . Aurtenetxe made a great job in the game against Real Madrid, this from a defensive point of view.”

He was trying to explain why Athletic has had a mediocre season so far, “The sporting form of the players hasn’t been balanced, at least regarding their best form, because it hasn’t coincided, it hasn’t been stable. When some of the men were at the top, others weren’t. When some of the players were at their best then they didn’t keep the same performance and that’s a responsibility of the coach, which in this case means that the form hasn’t been enough, nether I tried to accomplish that.”

During Friday’s training it was possible to witness the possible lineup for the game (Iraizoz - Iraola, Gurpegui, Ekiza, Aurtenetxe - Iturraspe, De Marcos, Herrera - Susaeta, Aduriz, Muniain); he didn’t want to confirm the lineup for the game, but neither denied it, “I cannot confirm it, but the people that witnessed the training could deduct the team that will play on Sunday.”

Finally, Marcelo Bielsa admitted that’s normal to hear rumours about his possible exit during the summer, “I understand the subject as a natural and normal thing; the comments and speculations would have been lesser if I had offered a sporting reality different to the one we are witnessing.”



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