Competition news

PREVIEW: DEPORTIVO - RCD ESPANYOL (COPA, 21h00)

01 Jan 2008
Deportivo will try to start the year clinching the pass to the last-eight round in copa del rey, in order to do this, Lotina's team must at least achieve a scoreless draw at home against Espanyol. The Me?aka-born coach is using almost the same squad that drew at Montjuic, while Valverde is coming searching for goals and with his 'magic trio' as the main reference upfront: Tamudo, Riera and Luis Garc?a.

STATISTICS: THE KEY IS TO KEEP A CLEAN SHEET
The aggregate score is tied (1-1), but Deportivo have the advantage of having one goal scored as visitor, that's why the Galicians only need a scoreless draw in order to advance. A new 1-1 will cause extra-times and penalties, while Espanyol needs a victory or at least a draw with two or more goals in order to pass the round.

The Catalans are also coming to this match full of morale, the squad of Ernesto Valverde occupies an historic third place in liga and accumulates fourteen straight officials matches without suffering a defeat, a record at Espanyol. But Depor is also enjoying of a positive moment, although is more short, because the Galicians accumulate three officials games without been defeated: 1-1 Vs. Zaragoza, 1-1 (liga) Vs. Espanyol (copa) and 1-0 Vs. Levante (liga).

Historically, Espanyol and Deportivo have been matched in six opportunities for copa del rey, the Catalans have eliminated Depor in five of those six series: 1931-1932: (3-9 aggregate), 1945-1946: (3-7 aggregate), 1977-1978: (1-1 aggregate, eliminated in the penalties round), 1996-1997: (2-2 aggregate, eliminated by goals scored as visitor), 2005-2006 (1-2 aggregate).

The only opportunity in which Deportivo eliminated Espanyol was on the season 1972-1973. Depor won the first-leg at Barcelona (1-2), while the Catalans won later at the Riazor (0-1) and the series was defined by the goals scored as visitor. The Galicians still remembering the last time they met Espanyol in copa del rey, it was two seasons ago in semi-finals and the Catalans ended winning the title.

DEPORTIVO: ALMOST THE SAME SQUAD THAT DREW AT MONTJUIC
Despite been affirming that Depor won't be speculating in this game (see article below), Lotina will use several substitutes in the confrontation. However, the line-up will be almost the same one that drew at Montjuic a fortnight ago, the only two modifications are caused for injury reasons. Chapi and Adri??n are out with muscular injuries.

Precisely, their replacements are the main doubts for the game, Pablo Amo has finally returned after losing almost half of season with a pubalgy, he has a chance to be a starter, but Lotina could think that it's too soon for him, instead the place could be taken by Fabricio Coloccini. Albert Lopo is evolving positively, but he was left out of the list of called player.

The other doubt is who will replace Adri??n up front, the contenders are Rodolfo Bodipo and Rub?n Castro and all appoints that the Canarian will be the starting choice for Lotina. Xisco wasn't called because he has flue. And there are more absentees for injury reasons, Aouate suffered an injury in one finger during a training and he is out of the list, reason why Fabril's Fabricio has been called for the first time on the present campaign to a official match, besides Antonio Tom??s  suffered a thigh injury on Monday. This cases are joining the ones of Manuel Pablo (muscular problem) and Valer??n (knee).

But the rest of the team should be the same one that drew in the first-leg at Montjuic. This mean that Munu?? will continue to be the goalkeeper, Piscu will be one of the two central defenders, Barrag??n will play at the right-back, Filipe on the left, the duo Sergio-Juan Rodr?guez in midfield, Cristian at the right wing, Riki on the left and Lafita repeating his role as playmaker, a job he fulfilled with success in the previous match with the Catalans.

Andalucian midfielder Juan Rodr?guez was affirming previously to the game that Depor must think not only in achieving the pass, but also is offering a victory to the fans attending to the Riazor, a fact that doesn't occur since September of the past year "We can't just go out trying to achieve a scoreless draw with Espanyol, because it will be a step backward. What we want is to win, because the fans deserve to start the year with a victory."

Called players (16): Mun??a, Fabricio (goalkeepers); Barrag??n, Coloccini, Pablo Amo, Adri??n L??pez 'Piscu', Filipe (defenders); Sergio, Juan Rodr?guez, Verd??, Cristian, Lafita, Guardado (midfielders); Riki, Bodipo and Rub?n Castro (strikers).

ESPANYOL: THE MAGIC TRIO AT THE RIAZOR
The Catalans have an important liga match on the weekend, it's against Villarreal, a game that could be an crucial step in order to advance in their ambitious plans of achieving a Champions League spot. But coach Ernesto Valverde doesn't want to lose the hope in copa del rey and he knows that his team needs to score goals at the Riazor, that's why the Basque trainer is taking his best men to La Coru?a.

That's why important players like Tamudo, Albert Riera and Luis Garc?a will be starters in the game. This trio nicknamed as the 'Magic trio'  in Barcelona is responsible for 16 of the 26 scored by Espanyol in la liga (62% of the total). But at the same time, Valverde wants to use the game in order to give minutes to players that aren't regular participants in la liga. That's why men like Milan Smiljanic (640 minutes in la liga) Corominas -who scored the goal in the first leg- (557) and Moha (170) are appointed as starters too.

The main absentee in Espanyol will be Daniel Jarque. the defender is out for injury reasons and his place will be taken by veteran Lacruz, while De La Pe?a will be probably start on the bench and his place will be for Valdo, the ex-Osasuna scored the winning goal against Levante during his last game in liga at the middle of December.

Mois?s Hurtado, who will be a starter in the match, commented that he's expecting to see a very equal game at the Riazor "I really liked what Deportivo did in the two games they played against us. It seems they are facing problems at home, but anything can happen in one single match. We must face it as always, trying to score and thinking the victory is the only useful thing for us. The 0-0 will left us out. For me this is an open series and I don't see a clear favourite."

Called players (16): Lafuente, Kameni (Goalkeepers); Chica, Lacruz, Zabaleta, Torrej??n, Moha, Mois?s Hurtado (defenders); Valdo, De la Pe?a, Riera, ?ngel, Milan Smiljanic (midfielders); Tamudo, Luis Garc?a, and Corominas (strikers). 

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Deportivo: Mun??a - Barrag??n, Piscu, Coloccini, Filipe - Sergio, Juan Rodriguez - Cristian, Lafita, Riki - Rub?n Castro.
Espanyol: Lafuente - Zabaleta, Lacruz, Torrej??n, Chica - Mois?s Hurtado, Smiljanic, Valdo, Luis Garc?a - Riera, Tamudo.
Referee: Mejuto Gonz??lez
Kick-off: 21h00 (Riazor)


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