Competition news

PREVIEW: DEPORTIVO - VILLARREAL (LIGA, SUNDAY 21h00)

15 May 2008
Two of the most in-form clubs in la liga are colliding at the Riazor. Villarreal is now the team that has collected the biggest number of points during the second round, and it's travelling to La Coru?帶 with the intention of celebrating its historic second place with a new victory. Meanwhile, Lotina's Deportivo searches for a positive result in order to secure the Intertoto spot. The novelty is the return of Lafita and the presence of Guardado on the bench.

STATISTICS: VILLARREAL IS THE BEST TEAM IN THE SECOND ROUND
Pellegrini's Villarreal arrives to the Riazor as the best team in la liga during the second round, the Valencians have added 39 points within the last 18 matches. Meanwhile, Depor is second in that particular classification with 35 points (tied with Real Madrid and Sevilla). Villarreal was fifth in the table after matchday 19, and its good numbers helped the squad to reach an historic second place. More spectacular is the comeback of Depor, the Galicians were penultimate and now they are close to end eighth.

Another interesting statistic during the second round is the one related to the goals allowed by both teams. And is that Villarreal and Deportivo are the best defences in Primera Divisi??n within the last eighteen matches. In that period of time, the Valencians have only leaked ten goals, while the Galicians only fourteen. In fact, Villarreal arrives to the Riazor after five consecutive clean sheets: 2-0 Vs. Valladolid, 1-0 at Betis, 2-0 s. Getafe, 2-0 at Recreativo and 2-0 Vs. Espanyol. The last goal allowed by the Valencians occurred one month ago, it was during the 0-1 defeat at Almer?苔 (April 13).

And if this numbers aren't enough, Villarreal is also the second best visitor in la liga. Pellegrini's team has achieved 33 points in this condition after 18 visits. If the Valencians achieve a win at the Riazor, then Villarreal will surpass the current mark of Real Madrid (34 points in 19 matches) and will end the season as the best visitor at Primera Divisi??n. A curious fact is that Villarreal hasn't drew any away game (11 wins and 7 defeats).

But Deportivo is also living a positive streak, at least at the Riazor. Lotina's team is arriving to the match after seven straight wins at home and its close to tie the club's record achieved on the season 1999/2000: nine wins in a row. Besides, Depor has a very impressive mark during the second round: 22 of 24 possible points achieved at home. A very different scene to the one saw in the first round: only 5 points conquered in 9 home encounters.

Finally, Villarreal has achieved positive results during its latest visits to the Riazor. The Valencian squad has only lost one game within the last five visits to La Coru?帶. It was during last season and curiously, the goals were scored by Joan Capdevila, player that's now performing at Villarreal (2-0, September 16th, 2006).

DEPORTIVO: LAFITA RETURNS, GUARDADO ON THE BENCH
Depor is ending the season with a sigh of relief, it was penultimate in the table just four months ago, but the spectacular reaction in the second round has secured the permanence in just sixty days. Besides, the Galician team has the option to play the Intertoto cup, in order to achieve the pass, it only needs a point in this game. If Deportivo fulfils the mission, it will be the first club in Spain that clinches a place in Europe after ending the first round in relegation.

And coach Lotina is ready to fight for this achievement using the same 5-2-2-1 system that has allowed to add 38 points since matchday 21 (against Valladolid). The only novelty in the formation is the return of Angel Lafita. This means that Lotina will use two playmakers in the line-up. The Aragonian has scored three goals and has added three assists during this liga campaign. He will take the place of Juan Rodr?茆uez.

Other novelty is that Andr?孟 Guardado is returning after surpassing a stress fracture. The Mexican played for the last time in March, it was during a game against Murcia at the Riazor, encounter in which he only performed during 29 minutes due to his injury problem. Lotina already said Guardado will enjoy of minutes, meaning the ex-Atlas winger will enter during the second half.

The doctors at the club were worried about Albert Lopo, the Catalan didn't end Friday's training due to a new back injury (lumbalgy), but he was fine on Saturday, meaning he will play the game. Fabril's Adri??n L??pez 'Piscu' was called as the alternative and he will start the match sited on the bench.

The rest of the team will be the usual one. Dudu Aouate could be playing his last game at Depor after all the rumours appointing to his exit. Meanwhile, Pablo Amo and Fabricio Coloccini will play alongside Lopo in the centre of the defence. It will be a special game for the Argentinean, because if he plays the fully ninety minutes, he will become the first field player at Depor to complete a perfect season with 38 appearances and 3,420 minutes on the pitch.

But Coloccini is more worried about achieving the Intertoto spot, as he commented during the week: "We are confident in ourselves. It will be tough but we play at home, with our people. We only need a steep forward after all the suffering and we are hoping to achieve it. The true is that it will be disappointing to not clinch the spot. After been near the relegation, to be just a point away from Europe and not been able to fulfil the mission, it will be a shame. But we also have to be conscious that we lived tough times. People was worried and we achieved the permanence some weeks before everybody was expecting."

Another player that's breaking marks is Manuel Pablo. If the Canarian plays the game, he will complete 231 liga presentations with Depor and will surpass legendary keeper  Juan Acu?帶 in the list of players with more games in Primera Divisi??n. Then, he will be the fifth men with more matches in la liga, just below Fran (435), Mauro Silva (369), Donato (303) and Sergio (241). Against Villarreal, Manuel Pablo will cover the right-back position, while Filipe Luis will play on the left side.

In midfield, Lotina will play with his usual couple: De Guzman-Sergio, while Christian Wilhelmsson will continue to perform on the right wing. Finally, Xisco will be the lonely striker in the formation. The Majorcan is the current pichichi in the squad and will try to improve his current mark of nine goals. The casualties for injury reasons are Juan Carlos Valer??n, Antonio Barrag??n and Rodolfo Bodipo. This last one had muscular problems on Saturday. The players discarded for technical reasons are Antonio Tom??s and Jo??n Verd??.

List of called players (19): Aouate, Munua (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Adri??n L??pez 'Piscu', Pablo Amo, Coloccini, Filipe Luis (defenders); Sergio, Juan Rodriguez, De Guzm??n, Cristian, Wilhelmsson, Guardado, Lafita (midfielders); Xisco, Riki, Taborda and Ruben Castro (strikers).

VILLARREAL: PARTY & FUN
Pellegrini's squad is fulfilling its best season in Primera Divisi??n and has celebrated the second place in la liga with several acts, including a big party during last weekend's game against RCD Espanyol at El Madrigal and a series of music concerts during the week. The squad hasn't trained normally during the week -something confessed by ex-Depor man Joan Capdevila- and all the attention of the media has been more focused in the next Champions League, the signings and the renovations of players rather than the game with Depor.

But Villarreal arrives to La Coru?帶 thinking of a victory and specially dreaming with a new clean sheet. Goalkeeper Diego L??pez is near to break a mark at the club: the minutes without allowing a goal. The last time the Galician keeper leaked a goal was on April 6th against Sevilla (0-2), since then he has achieved four straight clean sheets. And its that Diego L??pez only needs 31 minutes in order to break the mark of Sebasti??n Viera (391 minutes). Curiously, this mark was imposed at the beginning of the present season.

One of the reasons for the current success of Villarreal is the offensive potential at the squad. Pellegrini's team is the sixth best scorer in la liga with 61 goals in 37 matches. and the 65% of those goals were conquered by the four strikers in Pellegrini's team: Nihat Kahveci (18), Giussepe Rossi (11), Guille Franco (7) and Jon Dahl Tomasson (3). Nihat will be a starter at the Riazor, but Rossi won't play since the Italian is struggling with a lumbalgy. His place will be taken by the Mexican Guillermo Franco.

Despite Villarreal is playing for nothing, coach Pellegrini will present the same squad that defeated RCD Espanyol on the past weekend (2-0). But there are two novelties for injury reasons, one is the mentioned case of Rossi and the other is Diego Godin. The central defender is out with a knee problem (abductor). His position will probably be covered by French veteran Pascal Cygan. His partner in the centre of the defence will be Gonzalo, while Javi Venta will play at the left-back position and ex-Depor Capdevila will do it on the left.  

The 4-4-2 formation will have Marcos Senna and Uruguayan Eguren Ledesma in midfield. Senna has played an impressive season and already broke his personal marks of goals in one single campaign, he has scored four times on the present liga tournament. National coach Luis Aragon?孟 liked what he saw and Senna was included in the list for the UEFA EURO 2008.

Another player included in the Spanish squad for the European championship is Santiago Cazorla. The Asturian has played 35 games on this season and he already tied the five goals conquered during his stage at Recreativo. Together with Senna and Cazorla, Capdevila is the third Villarreal's player that will join Spain for the UEFA EURO 2008. Against Depor, Cazorla will cover the right wing, while veteran Robert Pires will cover the left.

Santi Cazorla expressed his happiness for the current season and also his wished for the game at the Riazor "I am very happy at Villarreal, I'm part of the second best team in Spain. We have a very good group of humans and that fact can be noticed on the pitch. The calmness and humility we possess is something that's given confidence to the players. Let's hope we will be able to close the season with a victory in La Coru?帶."

List of called players (18): Diego L??pez, Viera (goalkeepers); Javi Venta, Gonzalo, Josemi, Capdevila, ?ngel, Cygan (defenders); Marcos Senna, Eguren, Pires, Mati Fern??ndez, Cani, Bruno, Cazorla (midfielders); Nihat, Guille Franco and Tomasson (strikers).

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Deportivo: Aouate - Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Pablo Amo, Coloccini, Filipe Luis - Sergio, De Guzm??n - Wilhelmsson, Lafita - Xisco.
Villarreal: Diego L??pez - Javi Venta, Gonzalo, Cygan, Capdevila - Cazorla, Senna, Eguren, Pires - Nihat, Franco.
Referee: Medina Cantalejo (14 matches on the season, only 5 wins for the local teams).
Kick-off: 21h00 (Riazor)
Record Vs. Villarreal: 8 wins for Depor, 4 draws, 5 wins for Villarreal (Primera)
Record at the Riazor: 4 wins for Depor, 2 draws, 2 wins for Villarreal (Primera).

Back to Competition news