Competition news

PREVIEW: DEPORTIVO - SPORTING (LIGA)

16 Feb 2014
Big day at the Riazor as two of the main candidates for promotion collide in a battle to stay at the top. Fernando Vázquez recovers players and makes a couple of changes, while the Asturians menace with their Serbian duo in attack.

STATISTICS: FOURTEEN YEARS WITHOUT DEFEATING SPORTING
Sporting Gijón have been an impossible challenge for Depor on this century. The Galicians have been unable to beat the Asturians within the last seven meetings in liga and the last victory over them took place in Copa Del Rey as a goal of Donato allowed a 0-1 win at El Molinón (Jan 13, 1999). The last two meetings at the Riazor between these two outfits ended in 1-1 draws.

Beyond this negative streak, the match is interesting for what it represents: a meeting between two of the major candidates to promotion and the outfits that lead the main stats in the league. Sporting Gijón are the best scorer in the league (41) and is in great form after only losing one of the last fourteen games (2-3 Vs. Real Zaragoza, matchday 20).

Meanwhile, Deportivo are the best defense in the league after only allowing 18 goals in 25 games and have only lost three of the last fourteen matches at Liga Adelante. The Galicians are also the second team that has spent more time at the top of the standings (8 matchdays), just below Recreativo de Huelva (10).

Only one point is separating both outfits, so the tie-breaker may be an important factor at the end of the season. The 2-0 win on the first round brings a big advantage to the Asturians, this since the goal difference is pretty similar: Depor (+8) & Sporting (+10).

Another thing to emphasize is the performance of these teams playing under the circumstances of the meeting. Sporting is the third best visiting team in the league and the impressive stat is that they don’t lose an away game since October (2-1 at Girona FC), since then they clinched four wins and four draws. Meanwhile, Depor are presenting a less impressive stat playing at the Riazor as Los Blanquiazules have only won two of their last six home matches.

DEPORTIVO: A NEEDED VICTORY
SD Eibar and Deportivo are the teams with more victories at Segunda (12), however in the case of the Galicians they are leaving a feeling of insufficiency among the fans, firstly because only five of those twelve wins took place at the Riazor and later because the home triumphs were achieved against “minor” rivals. The only home success against a direct rival was the 3-1 win over current eighth place RCD Mallorca. Besides, the team didn’t convince too much in the home clashes.

That’s why a home victory against one of the main rivals in the race for promotion is so important: it has several meanings. Firstly it would serve to increase the distance to four points with the Asturians, secondly it would inject morale to a team that’s coming from a defeat. Thirdly it would satisfy the expectations of the fans. Fourthly, it adds prestige as it would probably be the biggest game of the season due to the environment (full stadium and almost 5,000 Sporting’s fans on the stands). Fifth, to convince the fans about the team’s potential. And finally, it would reaffirm the promotion aspirations before the rest of teams and the media.

Coach Fernando Vázquez has plenty of resources for the game and during the training sessions even tested a 3-4-3 figure, but it’s expected that he will only make a couple of modifications in the 4-2-3-1 figure that played against Real Murcia. Fabricio Agosto will be the starting goalie, Laureano Sanabria ‘Laure’ performs at the right side of the defense, then Manuel Pablo returns after been off for a month and goes directly into the starting eleven covering the left sector. Pablo Insua and Carlos Marchena will continue performing at the central positions.

The second modification is the return of Juan Dominguez after his suspension. The big question is who will join him at midfield. The options are Cezary Wilk and Álex Bergantiños. The coach didn’t give any clue during the training sessions and neither during the press conference.

The attacking line should be the same one of the past game at Real Murcia, with Diogo Salomão performing on the right wing, Luisinho doing the same on the left, Chilean Bryan Rabello is the playmaker and Borja Bastón is the central attacker.

Striker Luis Fernández was included in the list for the game, therefore the only players staying at the injury room are keeper German Lux and winger Álvaro Lemos. Since there were 21 men available the coach had to rule out three players due to tactical reasons and the chosen ones are: right-back Diego Seoane, who was a starter against Real Murcia, playmaker Juan Carlos and attacker Javier Arizmendi.

During the week Laure heated the environment after he said that this game means a lot of things for Depor, including to remove a thorn, ”I don’t want to heat the subject, but clearly this is a team that we are eager to defeat for history and for X problems. Besides, we are coming from a defeat; we want to wash away our poor impression at home, place where we haven’t made a complete game yet. We want to do it, to convince and claim three key points.”

Meanwhile, Luisinho is expecting to present a more balance impression, “In some games we are fine and later we play nothing in others. In Murcia we looked like a different team, but before Sabadell we played decently. We are missing continuity. If we want to celebrate at the end of the season then we need more continuity. We are eager to win as we are coming after a defeat, but cannot go out madly. We need a strategy and remember that it will be a tough game.”

For Borja Bastón, Depor need to manage the pressure as he thinks that Depor are forced to clinch the promotion, ”The promotion was already an obligation before the arrival of the reinforcements, now as we have more weapons, the pressure is bigger. The signings have added depth to the secondary line.”

For Toché, this is a fight between three teams, ”Sporting Gijón, Mallorca and us are the rivals to beat. It’s going to be a fight between three, perhaps four teams. I don’t know if Eibar will be there at the end of the campaign, but it’s a hard team. We won’t be sure until the final five matchdays. It’s time to start defeating direct rivals. I believe the winner will earn confidence ahead of the rest of the games.”

Finally, Álex Bergantiños was talking of the changes implemented at the moment of defending the set-pieces, ”We talked of the things that needed a change, trying to figure out the idea of the coach and later we agreed that the best is to defend by zones, also in which zones do we need to have more people. In the end you never know the best way to defend these actions, but it’s true what the coach says: we need to change in order to bring the feeling that the team is different. By the fact of placing ourselves in another way it allows to increase our confidence. It will be hard to stop the bleeding in set-pieces, but as I say, the change is also a mental state of the team.”

List of picked players (18): Fabricio Marc Martínez (goalkeepers); Laure, Luisinho, Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Insua, Marchena (defenders); Álex Bergantiños, Juan Dominguez, Wilk, Sissoko, Salomão, Núñez, Rabello (midfielders); Luis, Borja Bastón & Toché (attackers).

SPORTING GIJÓN: SERBIAN POWER
If this Sporting Gijón can presume of something it is of the gunpowder up front. The Asturians have scored 41 goals on this Segunda season and 24 of those goals were netted by their two Serbian attackers: Stefan Šćepović (17) and Dejan Lekić (7). It means the most prolific duo at Liga Adelante as together they have scored the 58% of Sporting’s goals on this campaign; actually the couple has scored only two goals less than the whole Depor’s squad combined.

The arrival of the duo during the past summer changed the entire picture at Sporting, club that has been surrounding by the internal fights and disunion within the last two years. Now they represent the hope to put back Los Rojiblancos at Liga BBVA. They have been so impressive that there were already rumours linked them with other clubs and Sporting already began the contacts to extend their contracts.

And on this week the Asturian club sealed the continuity of one of the two members of this couple, Šćepović, who signed a four-year extension with a buyout option of €25 million. Meanwhile, Lekić has said that he wants to continue at Sporting, ”I want to remain here if we clinch the promotion. I am loaned from a Turkish club, but don’t want to return there.”
 
The true is that Lekić is not living a good moment; after scoring in five straight matches the ex-player of Osasuna has remained scoreless in 2014 and for this reason he has been a substitute in the last two matches.  More stable has been the season of Šćepović as he has scored goals in 13 of his 23 appearances in the league season, including two braces and a hat-trick against current leaders SD Eibar.

For this reason coach José Ramon Sandoval will leave Lekić on the bench for the third straight opportunity. This means that Canarian Carlos Carmona, who has scored two goals within the last three liga games, will continue at the starting eleven. Still, the coach is planning to make a change at his 4-5-1 figure.

The modification is the appearance of Madrilenian Alberto Lora at the right wing. He’s used to perform as a right-back, but will now play at midfield as the coach wants more mark over Salomão. The rest of the defensive line is composed by Iván Cuéllar at the goalkeeping position, captain Roberto Canella covers the left sector, Luis Hernández performs on the left, while Colombian Bernardo Espinosa and Canarian Armando Sosa Peña ‘Mandi’ cover the centre of the defense.

The presence of the Serbian duo might be gathering all the attention on this season, but it cannot be missed the strong presence of the Mareo academy on this team. After all, four of the six spots at midfield and attack are covered with players coming out from this prestigious academy. Lora is one of them. Then the three centre midfielders: Sergio Álvarez, Nacho Cases and Álex Barrera. Catalan Carmona attacks from the left wing and Šćepović is the central attacker.

Laure’s declarations weren’t welcomed inside the changing room at Sporting, in this sense Lora commented that, ”I don’t know why there’s this resentment. Perhaps I’m missing something.  It seems they want to blame us for their relegation, just when this happen in a 38-match season and not in one single game. With these declarations they want to condition the referee. For me Sporting are better than Deportivo; it’s my team, and I believe we are a better team and club, besides we have better fans.”

Meanwhile, captain Canella commented that, ”For us it will be a complicate game facing a good team, and if we want to clinch the promotion then we cannot lose there. But we travel to A Coruña as we always do for any other game: trying to obtain a positive result. There isn’t a feeling of revenge. It’s only one more game. We are only thinking of being the leaders and that’s the important thing.”

List of picked players (18): Cuéllar, Alberto García (goalkeepers); Luis Hernández, Iván Hernández, Canella, Mandi, Bernardo, Alberto Lora (defenders); Hugo Fraile, Sergio Álvarez, Casquero, Álex Barrera, Nacho Cases, Santi Jara, Isma López (midfielders); Šćepović, Lekić & Carmona (attackers)

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Fabricio – Laure, Insua, Marchena, Manuel Pablo – Álex or Wilk, Juan Domínguez – Salomão, Rabello, Luisinho – Borja Bastón.
Sporting: (4-5-1) Cuéllar - Luis Hernández, Mandi, Bernardo, Canella - Lora, Sergio Álvarez, Cases, Barrera, Carmona - Šćepović.
Referee: José María Sánchez Martínez (Murcian committee)
Kick-off: 12h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs. Sporting: 31 wins for Depor, 18 draws, 21 wins for Sporting (Primera & Segunda)
Record at the Riazor: 21 wins for Depor, 10 draws, 3 wins for Sporting (Primera & Segunda)

ARCHIVE NEWS FEB/14

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