Squad news

PREVIEW: DEPORTIVO – ATLÉTICO (LIGA)

04 May 2013
Hard test for a Deportivo full of casualties; coach Fernando Vázquez is missing four normal starters and relies in the less habitual men. Atlético arrive to the Riazor with their best squad trying to secure the spot for the next Champions League.

STATISTICS: THE BEST DEFENSE IN LA LIGA
The best statistic to judge the performance of both clubs during this season is the number of goal allowed. After 33 matchdays, Atlético Madrid have only allowed 27 goals, which it’s the best mark at Primera División. Meanwhile, Depor have leaked 65 goals, the second worst in liga –Mallorca allowed 67- and it’s the worst mark at the Galician club since the Primera season 1955/56 (80).

Also, Deportivo have lost seven of the last eight meetings facing  Los Rojiblancos  at Primera División, including three of the last four meetings disputed at the Riazor. The only victory within the period was a 2-1 win in A Coruña with goals scored by Guardado and Colotto (Nov 21, 2009).

At least, the Galician outfit is reaching this game living their best moment in years playing at the top-flight; and it’s that Depor haven’t been defeated within the last six matchdays, adding 14 of the last 18 points in dispute. It’s something that only happened three times within the last six years.

The last time Deportivo had a longer unbeaten streak was in 2007 as Caparrós´ team spent eight straight Primera matchdays without losing (between matchdays 17 & 24): 2-0 Vs. Real Madrid, 1-1 at Recreativo de Huelva, 0-0 Vs. RCD Espanyol, 1-1 at Real Zaragoza, 1-0 Vs. RCD Mallorca, 2-0 at Villarreal CF, 0-0 Vs. Levante UD & 1-0 at Real Sociedad.

DEPORTIVO: PLAN B
Final month in the competition and Depor need to add more points in order to clinch the salvation; Atlético Madrid probably represent the most difficult task within the last five matchdays, and coach Fernando Vázquez is forced to face the meeting with key absences in the squad that helped to chain the current positive streak of six straight matches undefeated.  Actually, the Galician tactician only has 18 players available for the game, because two are out for contract reasons, three are at the injury room and another man is suspended.

The main problem is that four normal starters are out of the game, centre-back Carlos Marchena is out for the rest of the season with a quadriceps strain, centre midfielder Abel Aguilar is out suspended after picking his tenth yellow card of the season in the past match at Real Betis, while both left winger Pizzi and left-back Sílvio Azevedo are ineligible as Atlético is their parent club –the winger is also suspended-

So, Vázquez is forced to rely in the “plan B” aka the less habitual players in order to search for a positive result in this game. On Friday he tested a weird 5-3-2 formation, with three centre-backs and with Bruno Gama as a left-back, but the general consensus is that he will keep the 4-2-3-1 figure of past games, only filling the gaps with the players without too many minutes on this season.

Diogo Salomão was going to be one of these players, but in the end he remains sidelined with a calf injury. None of the four members in this plan B have played more than 1,000 minutes on the league season, with the exception of Álex Bergantiños (1,872).

In order to have a squad of 18 men for the match the coach even had to pick the three players at the squad with the lesser number of minutes since his arrival: left-back Evaldo Fabiano, plus centre midfielders Jesús Vázquez and André Santos. Of this trio only Evaldo has played with Vázquez on board (90 minutes in the 1-3 loss at Sevilla CF).

In this sense the 4-2-3-1 presents Daniel Aranzubia covering the goal, captain Manuel Pablo remains performing at the right-back position, while Ayoze Diaz enters into the starting eleven in order to play at the left side of the defense. The Canarian has only performed for 847 minutes on this season and this is just his third appearance as a starter since the arrival of Fernando Vázquez.

At the centre of the defense, despite the doubts in the last game against Real Betis, Kaká will keep performing alongside Aythami Artiles. The Brazilian has only performed for 417 minutes during this season, although it should be reminded that he arrived during the winter window. Álex joins Juan Dominguez at midfield completing his sixth appearance since the arrival of Depor’s new coach.

Bruno Gama attacks from the right wing, Javier Camuñas (580 minutes in liga) will only make his fourth appearance as a starter in the campaign covering the left flank, Juan Carlos Valerón is the playmaker in the formation and Riki is the central attacker.

Juan Dominguez talked before the game and said that Atlético won’t be a relaxed rival at the Riazor, ”I don’t think they will be relaxed; they are used to play in several competitions and face these situations. They will bite; it’s their nature, both for the coach and the players, so surely they will play at 100%. Neither we are thinking of revenging the 0-6 of the first round; we don’t think of that, just in collecting the points.”

Meanwhile, Riki was analyzing the current situation at the bottom of the standings, "We are conscious of the things at stake, but a month and a half ago we were out of the picture, so until the final matchday there will be four or five teams there. It's going to be tight and pretty. Now we need to seize the point added in Seville in order to make a step towards salvation.”

Finally, captain Manuel Pablo is conscious that this will be a tough meetings for Deportivo, ”It will be a complicate match, but we are confident in been able to defeat them. We know that all the games are difficult and the rivals won’t give us anything for free.”

List of picked players (18): Aranzubia, Lux (goalkeepers); Evaldo, Manuel Pablo, Ayoze, Kaká, Aythami, Ze Castro (defenders); Álex Bergantiños, Juan Domínguez, Jesús Vázquez, André Santos, Assunção, Bruno Gama, Camuñas, Valerón (midfielders); Riki & Nélson Oliveira (strikers).

ATLÉTICO: THREE KEYS TO UNDERSTAND ATLETI
It has been a great season for Atlético Madrid and there are three keys to understand why Los Rojiblancos are best team in la liga after giants Real Madrid and Barca. The first is the defensive system implemented by coach Diego Simeone. The Argentine man insists in putting pressure at midfield not allowing the rival to release their attacks, this ‘obsession’ puts ‘Atleti’ as the second team in la liga with the lesser number of shots allowed (average of 9.8 per game) and this explains why they are only allowing a few goals.

It settles the defense, now the offense has a big weakness and curiously the other two keys are coming from here. The exit of Diego Ribas during the past summer window left the team without a playmaker with the needed depth to create scoring chances, and with Arda Turan injured within the past month the need of a “brain” was more evident. But Simeone overcame this problems through two keys: the set-pieces and Radamel Falcao.

Colombian Falcao is the third best scorer in liga, just behind Messi and Ronaldo, but he needs lesser attempts to score a goal compared to the famous duo, besides he represents the 45% of the goals netted by Atlético at Primera, the highest percentage in the league. Perhaps the Madrilenians aren’t creating too many scoring opportunities, but with Falcao on board they don’t need too many to find the goal. In the end they are the fourth Primera outfit with more goals scored (58).

Finally the set-pieces; the fact of been the fourth best scorer in the league is a stat hiding the exposed reality as only 28 of those goals were found in open plays.  It means that more than the half of their goals (30, 51.72%) comes from strategic plays –the highest number in la liga- including the eight penalties netted by Falcao . Once again it is demonstrated that the team isn’t creating too many opportunities, but the free-kicks, corner-kicks and penalties are helping to transform this weakness into a virtue.

For the meeting at the Riazor it’s expected that Simeone will play with his normal starters as the final in Copa Del Rey is in two weeks, but the Argentine coach is switching the 4-4-2 draw of recent games into a 4-2-3-1 system due to the important casualties of Jorge Resurrección ‘Koke’ and Diego Costa. Arda Turan is back after a month out injured, but he won’t be a starter. Meanwhile, two players from Atlético B are part of the trip: midfielders Saúl Ñíguez and Óliver Torres.

Belgian Thibaut Courtois defends the goal and his Zamora status (only 0.78 goals allowed per game); ex-Osasuna Juan Francisco Torres ‘Juanfran’ covers the right-back position, Brazilian João Miranda and Uruguayan Diego Godín perform at the central positions at defense, while ex-Depor Filipe Luis plays at the left side.

Former Las Palmas man Mario Suárez and Gabriel Fernández ‘Gabi’ are the pivotes in the formation, Uruguayan Cristian Rodriguez attacks from the right wing; he has had an irregular year during his first season at the club after his contribution was reduced to one goal scored in 28 liga appearances.

Adrián López attacks from the left flank; the Asturian is the second ex-Depor man on the game. His season hasn’t been as explosive as the past one as he has only scored three goals plus providing one assist. Finally, Radamel Falcao is the central attacker, a real threat for Depor’s defense as he scored five goals in the devastating 0-6 loss of the first round.

Adrián talked before the game and explained his feeling for been revisiting the Riazor, ”I spent a lot of time there and have pretty memories, especially former team mates and people from the club. They treated me really well. It will be pretty. Some fans whistled me for the Teresa Herrera, but these are things of football. It will be  a hard game for us, because Depor are living a great moment and need the points to clinch the salvation.”

Filipe Luis also talked of the subject, ”It’s a special game for me, also for Adrián, because I played there for many years. But everyone follows their interests and I am only focused in clinching our goal: the Champions League. We want to play it as the club spent some years without doing it and for it we must secure the third spot. I hope Deportivo will clinch the permanence, but we’re traveling to the Riazor in order to win,”

List of picked players (18): Asenjo, Courtois (goalkeepers); Godín, Filipe Luis, Cata Díaz, Juanfran, Insua, Miranda (defenders); Mario Suárez, Tiago, Raúl García, Arda Turan, Cristian ‘Cebolla’ Rodriguez, Gabi, Saúl Ñíguez, Óliver (midfielders); Adrián & Falcao (strikers).

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Aranzubia – Manuel Pablo, Kaká, Aythami, Ayoze – Álex Bergantiños, Juan Domínguez – Bruno Gama, Valerón, Camuñas – Riki.
Atlético: (4-2-3-1) Courtois – Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Filipe –Mario Suárez, Gabi - Cebolla Rodríguez, Raúl García, Adrián - Falcao
Referee: Miguel Ángel Ayza Gamez
Kick-off: 22h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs. Atletico: 26 wins for Depor, 17 draws, 44 wins for Atletico (Primera & Segunda)
Record at the Riazor: 21 wins for Depor, 11 draws, 11 wins for Atletico (Primera & Segunda)

ARCHIVE NEWS MAY/13

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