Competition news

PREVIEW: DEPORTIVO – HAJDUK SPLIT (UEFA)

13 Aug 2008
Deportivo faces for the second time a squad from Croatia playing for European competitions –the first one was Slaven Belupo in Intertoto- the rival is now Hajduk Split, team that’s facing a tough start in its league. For the encounter Lotina is thinking in using a similar line-up to the one that played in Intertoto, this means with Valer??n, Lafita and Riki as the references. Aranzubia also debuts in an official game.

DEPORTIVO: NO SURPRISES IN THE LINE-UP
Coach Miguel ?ngel Lotina will use the normal squad he has presented during the past Intertoto series. During Tuesday and Wednesday he tested a 5-2-2-1 formation in which the only doubt was to see who will be the left-back in the formation. The Basque trainer alternated Filipe Luis and Andr?s Guardado on that position, but all appoints the Brazilian will be the starter for the game.

What’s clear is that the defensive line will be completed with Daniel Aranzubia who will debut in an official game as the goalkeeper of the squad, Manuel Pablo performing on the right-back position and the trio Z? Castro-Lopo-Piscu on the centre. During Tuesday Lotina gave a list of 24 players for the game, this list was reduced to 18 men during Wednesday, between the players left out are youngsters Juanan and Rochela, this means the only back-up on the bench for the defensive positions is Laure.

With De Guzm??n unfit, midfield will be territory for Sergio and Juan Rodr?guez. Valer??n and Lafita will continue to perform as the playmakers on the formation. Pablo ?lvarez, Cristian and Verd?? were left out of the list during Wednesday. For this reason, the same de Guzm??n, plus Guardado and Antonio Tom??s, are the choices Lotina will have on the bench in order to cover this sector.

In attack, Lotina will play with Riki, striker that has scored two goals during the pre-season, including one in the Intertoto series, plus a couple of assistances. Maybe the big surprise is that Mista was left out of the list during Wednesday. In this way Xisco and Omar Bravo will be the attacking options that Lotina will have in case he needs it.

A curious note for the game is that Lotina will be unable to watch the match from the bench, the Basque is suspended for both legs due to an old sanction had at RCD Espanyol. He was sent off in a UEFA confrontation against Brondby IF. Meanwhile, the coach talked about the game and warned about the level of the rival ?Who comes to the stadium thinking that it would be easy, it’s totally wrong. That’s why I ask for the support from our people in order to have that oxygen we still don’t have.?

Similar are the thoughts of Juan Carlos Valer??n, the Canarian midfielder said at Abegondo’s press room that’s he’s expecting for a tough match ?It was one of the most difficult rivals we could meet, they possess European experience and that fact will help them. It will be an equal and interesting series. It’s an error to be thinking now of the returning match. If we want to pass the round, we have to obtain a positive result on here and also there. We know we are talking about two legs, but we need to focus on this game and make the right things. Right now it’s difficult to say what the better result is for the second-leg?

Finally, striker Riki admitted that he doesn’t have too much information about the rival, as he said on Wednesday at Abegondo: ?We will know them better between today and tomorrow, we will analyse their team in the hotel. We know they are one of the biggest and strongest teams in Croatia. Therefore we must be careful.? 

HAJDUK SPLIT: TRYING TO IMPROVE
Things haven’t started well for the Croatian side, despite the 7-0 aggregate score against Malta's Birkirkara FC in the first qualifying round; the squad has suffered in the Croatian league (Prva HNL). After three matchdays, Hajduk has only achieved one win (1-0 over Zadar) while the other two games ended in a draw and a loss, this last one was a painful defeat: 0-3 against current third place NK Zagreb. Situation that has generated the first criticism against coach Goran Vučević, a former Hajduk midfielder that was named as the club's coach in May.

However, Vučević is not worried and appoints that his teams has a chance, as he said to UEFA.com: "We are not favourites, so anything we achieve against Deportivo will be good. They will be an attractive opponent for our fans and with a little luck we will get to the next round. Deportivo are definitely a strong team, but not so much that we could say we don't have a chance. Of course we could get easier opponents but I am not disappointed with the draw as I lived and played in Spain for years. It will be easy for me to get some info about our opponents and I know Spanish football well.?

Bosnia-Herzegovina midfielder Senijad Ibričić, a new signing from NK Zagreb, agreed. "We have two big games ahead and we are not without hope," said the 22-year-old. "Our biggest advantages are that Deportivo's domestic season does not start until 31 August and we are playing the first match away from home. They don't know much about us so we can surprise them. And in front of so many of our fans in the second leg we can't play badly."

What Ibričić doesn’t know is that Depor’s coach Miguel ?ngel Lotina already has a report about Hajduk’s performance on his hands. This report was prepared by the physical coach of the squad, Jos? ?ngel Franganillo, who witnessed the 0-3 defeat with NK Zagreb. Despite the result, Franganillo warns that Depor must achieve a comfortable score at the Riazor, because the environment will be very complicated during the second-leg.

Franganillo’s report emphasises the presence of veterans Boris ??ivković and Josip Skoko plus the contribution of young promises like midfielder Senidad Ibričić who was described as ?very skilful making the last pass?. Striker Nikola Kalinić was also praised in the report for his capacity to score goals. In a general sense, Franganillo’s report described Hajduk as a ?team very united that’s combining people with experience with others with a bigger projection, a squad with dynamic players and that possess figures that can define a game.?

Compared to the squad that defeated Birkirkara FC in the UEFA’s second leg, Vučević will only make one change: the introduction of Australian midfielder Josip Skoko in the place of Mladen Bartolović. The reference up front is striker Nikola Kalinić, a 20-year-old attacker that scored 18 goals in 27 appearances in the past Croatian league, he also scored one goal against Birkirkara FC.

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Deportivo: Aranzubia - Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Z? Castro, Piscu, Filipe Luis - Sergio, Juan Rodr?guez - Lafita, Valer??n - Riki.
Hajduk Split: Tomic - Marijan Buljat, ??ivković, Gabric, Strinic - Rubil, Skoko, Linić, Maloca, Ticinovic - Kalinić .
Referee: C??neyt Cakir (TUR)
Kick-off: 21h00 (Riazor)


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