Squad news


28 Feb 2015
Battle for the permanence in Andalusia, Almeria try to improve its poor record at home relying in Hemed and Thievy. Depor lost Cavaleiro due to a last-minute injury, while Fariña returns.

UD Almeria are out of relegation for now, but only by one point and their main problem is the difficulty to add points at home. And it’s that they represent the worst local team in la liga. The Andalusian outfit has only picked seven points at the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos and only won once after thirteen games there: 1-0 Vs. Getafe CF (matchday 20).

Meanwhile, Deportivo have added nine points in eleven away meetings, a mark that isn’t so impressive, but four of those nine points were achieved in the last three games played away from the Riazor, so the Galicians seem to be improving in this department.

Both teams arrive to the game having a similar form, because both have added seven points within the last six games, with Depor dragging two straight losses after chaining two straight wins, while UD Almeria only added one point in the last two games after also clinching two straight victories.

Los Blanquiazules have visited UD Almeria in six opportunities since 1981, and only got one victory there. That lonely win took place during the campaign 2008/09 with a goal scored by Joan Verdú (1-0). The Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneo is also remembered as the place where keeper Dani Aranzubia scored a last-minute goal to grab a 1-1 draw (February 20, 2011).

Something has improved at Deportivo within the last five matches: the offensive approach. In the first 19 matches the team was only averaging eight shots per game, and since matchday 20 the average has raised to fourteen shots per match. Even at the Bernabéu stadium Deportivo completed a high number of shots (15).

It’s a demonstration that coach Víctor Fernández is finally finding the fluidity in the attacking half that he wanted, but the problem is that the goals aren’t arriving. After scoring twice before Granada CF, SD Eibar and Rayo Vallecano, the Blanquiazul outfit ended scoreless in the last two games, though they hit the woodwork once in each game (Real Madrid & RC Celta).

This missed aim caused the last two defeats and it’s a problem that needs to be fixed, especially in this game as Depor visit a direct rival for the permanence. Midfielder Celso Borges was analyzing the situation during the week. He said that the goals will arrive, ”I would be more worried if we won’t be creating opportunities, but we are having them and the goal will arrive.”

One of the main issues is the lack of goals from the strikers, the trio of centre forwards at Deportivo has only netted thee goals on the season and all of them took place in 2014. To make things worse two of them are currently injured leaving Oriol Riera as the only natural choice for the position of centre forward. The situation is worse as Iván Cavaleiro is also out with an ankle injury.

Víctor will make two modifications ahead of the game. The first is the entry of Pablo Insua replacing Albert Lopo at the centre of the defence. He’s joining Sidnei Rechel on that sector. Juanfran Moreno performs on the right side and Luisinho covers the left sector. The defence is completed with the presence of Fabricio Agosto at the goal.

Álex Bergantiños and Celso Borges are the centre midfielders, José Rodríguez stays at the right wing. Luis Fariña is the second novelty at the lineup as he attacks from the left flank. The Argentine man skipped the last month due to a suspension and later an injury. Lucas Pérez is the playmaker, while Oriol Riera is the centre forward.

Iván Cavaleiro picked an ankle injury during Thursday’s training and couldn’t walk on Friday, so he was left out of the roster. The Portuguese is missing his first game on the campaign. The other three players at the injury room are Postiga, Diogo Salomão and Toché. Left-back Roberto Canella, centre-back Borja López and centre midfielder Cezary Wilk are out for tactical reasons. Finally Albert Lopo is serving one-game suspension after been sent off in the derby.

Fabricio talked before the game about the importance of the meeting, ”It’s a final. We cannot be afraid now, because if not then we are going directly to Segunda. The points in this match are vital, we must continue to be a strong group and need to do the right things.”

Juanfran was warning that Almeria is a dangerous team in attack, ”Among the teams at the bottom I don’t like to face Almería, because up front they have a gift: speed. They have fast players in one-on-one situations. But if we do the right things then we will achieve the victory. At the Riazor they won in a bad and ugly match, now we want to do the right things, add and put some distance with relegation.”

List of picked players: (18) Fabricio, Lux (goalkeepers); Laure, Manuel Pablo, Juanfran, Insua, Sidnei, Luisinho (defenders); Álex Bergantiños, Juan Dominguez, José Rodríguez, Medunjanin, Celso Borges, Hélder Costa, Lucas Pérez, Fariña, Isaac Cuenca (midfielders) & Oriol Riera (striker).

The main reason why UD Almeria have improved lately is that new coach Ignacio Martínez has found the way to obtain positive results playing with the so called ‘T&T couple’: Thievy Bifouma and Tomer Hemed. Former coach Francisco was usually playing with only one of them and in the end they only coincided for 171 minutes on the pitch with him on board.

But JIM found the way to play with both of them at the same time, in a 4-2-3-1 figure with the Israeli as the centre forward and the Congolese either on the left or the right wing. The formula as boosted the team, starting with the increasing stats of Hemed, who since the middle of December has scored six goals and provided one assist, including a brace before Valencia CF. In the end his seven goals on the season have meant eight points so far. Pure gold for a relegation-troubled team.

In the case of Thievy, he scored three goals with Congo in the African Cup and lives his best moment on the season. His attacks by the sides are really helpful as Hemed himself admitted it recently, ”Thievy is a great player and, speaking as a striker, it is better to have players like him. All the players help to score goals, but in the case of Thievy I can say that I feel really good playing alongside him.” He said at the beginning of the week.

JIM will use this formula against Deportivo as the lineup as remained almost intact within the last games. Julian Cuesta is the starting keeper as Rubén Martínez is out injured. Brazilian Michel Macedo covers the right side in the defence, Sebastián Dubardier performs on the left, while the central positions are for Ángel Trujillo and Argentine Mauro Dos Santos.

Ghanaian Thomas Partey returns after been ineligible to play against Atlético and joins José Antonio García ‘Verza’ at midfield. Brazilian Wellington Alves attacks from the right wing, Fernando Soriano is the playmaker, Thievy attacks from the left and Hemed is the centre forward.

Midfielder Miguel Ángel Corona was talking of Deportivo during the week, ”Almeria and Depor have changed during the second round. Deportivo have improved a lot. They are now a more solvent team. We must be careful.”

Defender Ángel Trujillo was remembering the importance of the next two games against Depor and Elche, ”We all are conscious of the two games ahead of us, especially Saturday’s match at home. The coach gathered the team in order to motivate us about the importance of the goal-average, something that we are winning at this point, and also of the importance of adding the three points in order to put some distance with the drop zone.”

List of picked players: To be released until Saturday.

Almeria: (4-2-3-1) Julián – Macedo, Santos, Trujillo, Dubardier – Verza, Partey – Wellington, Soriano, Thievy – Hemed.
Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Fabricio – Juanfran, Insua, Sidnei, Luisinho – Álex Bergantiños, Borges – José Rodríguez, Lucas, Fariña – Oriol Riera.
Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano
Kick-off: 20h00 CET (Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneo)
Head-to-head Vs. Almeria: 3 wins for Depor, 3 draws, 5 wins for Almeria (Primera & Segunda)
Record in Almeria: 1 win for Depor, 2 draws, 2 wins for Almeria (Primera)



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