Competition news

PREVIEW: ESPANYOL – DEPORTIVO (17h00, LIGA)

04 Apr 2009
Depor pushes for Europe, while Espanyol plays one of the last cards in the quest for salvation. Lotina is making some adjustments in the lineup, like the return of Pablo Amo or the presence of Castro in midfield, while Pochettino hopes to break the silence in attack.

STATISTICS: ONLY 4 WINS FOR THE CATALANS
RCD Espanyol has only won four times on the liga season, that’s the second worst mark in Spain among the clubs at Primera, Segunda and Segunda B. Only Sevilla Atletico has lesser victories on the campaign (1). Curiously, two of the four wins for Espanyol came in the first two matchdays of the season: 1-0 Vs Valladolid and 1-0 at Recreativo. After that, the Catalans defeated Osasuna on matchday 09 (1-0), and then they spent four months without claiming a victory, it was until the huge 2-1 win at Barcelona that Espanyol added the three points in a liga match.

Also, the Catalans have only added seven points in the second round of la liga, that’s’ why they are the third worst team in the period, only Numancia (6) and Athletic Bilbao (5) have added lesser points. The main problem on the liga campaign has been the number of goals scored, and it’s that Espanyol has only conquered 25 goals in 28 matchdays, that’s the worst mark at Primera and the worst record at the club within the last 20 years. Actually the last time this occurred, back on the season 1988/1989, campaign in which Espanyol had 22 goals after 28 matches, it meant their penultimate relegation to Segunda.  Not only the record of goals scored is giving problems to Espanyol, but also the mark of goals allowed. Espanyol has leaked a goal in each one of the last nineteen games in liga, this means exactly a round in the tournament allowing at last one goal.

The bad moment of Espanyol is just an opposite scenario to Depor’s situation, the Galicians still alive in the quest for Europe and they have only lost once within the last eight liga encounters. Besides, Depor has achieved the victory in two of its last three visits to Montjuic: 2-1 on the season 2005/2006 and 3-1 on the 2006/2007 campaign.

A thing that has called the attention is the name of the referee for the match: Medina Cantalejo. He was the same official that whistled the game of the first round between Espanyol and Barcelona, Los Periquitos lost that game after Cantalejo whistled an inexistent penalty at minute 95. Besides, Depor doesn’t have positive memories with this referee, because it only achieved six wins in the twenty matches in which the Andalusian was the main official.

DEPORTIVO: CHANGING ROLES
Coach Miguel Angel Lotina is forced, once again, to make some changes in his lineup due the absentees at the squad. This time the main problem is at midfield, Sergio and Juan Rodr?guez are suspended after picking a fifth yellow card, while Antonio Tom??s was not fit to travel no matter the Cantabrian already surpassed the hamstring strain problem that has left him out of action within the last month.

Therefore, Lotina has chosen to play with Z? Castro alongside Julian De Guzman in midfield territory. The Portuguese central defender, who is also returning after an absence of one month (adductor injury), will play for the first time as a pivote. It’s just a new case of a Depor’s player performing in a different role, as the same De Guzman already did as a side defender or as a winger in past games with Lotina, or as Juan Rodriguez played as striker during Caparr??s’ era. Lotina expects that the ex-Atletico defender won’t have a problem in this new function since he has the skills to fulfill the job.

Another novelty for the game is the return of Pablo Amo to a starting formation after 266 days. The Madrilenian defender doesn’t start a game since the 0-2 against Villarreal during the last matchday of the past season. He will play alongside Albert Lopo at the centre of the defence sending Colotto to the bench. The defensive formation is completed with Dani Aranzubia at the goal, Filipe Luis at the left-back position and Laure at the right side.

Lotina announced that the presence of Pablo Amo in the starting squad is a ?test? that will decide if the contract of the Madrilenian defender will be renewed, Amo thanked the support of the coach and said before the game that he’s ready to pass the exam, ?To see the coach having that concept of me is very important, because it means that my job here is valorised. Now I need to support those words from the pitch.?

A last minute modification to the list of picked men was made on Saturday, because Adri??n L??pez ?Piscu’ suffered an ankle sprain during the last training previously to the trip to Barcelona. Lotina decided to pick David Rochela from Fabril in order to fill the gap. The Galician youngster is suspended for the game Depor B – Valladolid B (2-1 win for Fabril in the end), but he’s able to play with the first squad. If he plays at least for a minute, his ban with Fabril will stay for the next matchday. This is the first time the 19-year-old central defender/defensive midfielder is picked up for an official game with the first squad.

Against Espanyol, Lotina is presenting a 4-2-3-1 formation with Andr?s Guardado appearing as starter no matter he returned from international duty until Friday, the Mexican will perform on the left wing, while Angel Lafita, the Pichichi in la liga with eight goals scored, will cover the right wing. Joan Verd?? is still performing in the playmaking function, while Riki will be the lonely attacker.

The striking zone is another zone punished with the injuries, the four attackers at the squad are suffering all kind of troubles, two of them were left out of the trip to Catalonia: Bodipo (hamstring strain) and Mista (pubalgy), while Tunisian Lassad was picked for the encounter no matter been facing a muscular problem. Riki, who will be the starter in the game, is also struggling with an ankle injury. In the end Lotina chose to play with the Madrilenian, while the ex-Fabril should be replacing him during the second half.

Before the game, Juan Carlos Valer??n was warning that Espanyol is going to be a complicate rival due to its current situation, "From now on, there will be many matches of this style, each playing for its own, and probably it will be a difficult game, they play for a lot and we know what it is to be living that situation. Espanyol is surprising with its condition, but we're used to see almost every year a club with a good team down there."

Meanwhile, keeper Daniel Aranzubia was explaining the feelings of the squad after the pause in la liga, ?This break has been great for everybody, because we rested and recharged the batteries. We are hoping for Sunday in order to play, and if it can be, to achieve the victory." He also warned about the level of the rival, ?Maybe Espanyol is facing its last chance to stay at Primera, and that turns this game into a complicated one. We also need to take advantage of their anxiety knowing that if they are down there, it’s because they are doing the things wrongly. It is surprising as it occurred with Zaragoza after they fell down to Segunda on the past season.?

Guardado was saying after his return from Mexico that he feels prepared to play the game, this no matter the long journey from North America, "I’m arriving pretty good. I said before I left that these two games with the national team would help, and it was like that since me I gained pace, no matter I'm tired, I am available to play on Sunday. I’m also motivated, because I like to join my colleagues. I try to bring joy to the group and to see them noticing my presence.?

Manuel Pablo is joining Mista, Bodipo, Piscu and Antonio Tom??s at the injury room. However the Canarian is also traveling to barcelona with the group, this since he will see a specialist there in order to evalue his knee injury. Sergio is also traveling with the team no matter been suspended, the ex-Espanyol does not want to miss the last game of Espanyol against Depor at Montjuic (they will move to Cornell?? for next year). Besides, it is expected that the father of the Catalan will have a meeting with Lendoiro in order to continue negotiating his renewal.

List of called players (18): Aranzubia, Mun??a (goalkeepers); Laure, Z? Castro, Pablo Amo, Lopo, Colotto, Rochela, Filipe (defenders); De Guzm??n, Verd??, Lafita, Pablo ?lvarez, Guardado, Cristian, Valer??n (midfielders); Riki and Lassad (strikers).

ESPANYOL: THE SILENCE OF THE STRIKERS
The critical situation lived by Espanyol founds its better explanation through the reality lived by its two main forwards, Ra??l Tamudo and Luis Garc?a. Both have only scored three goals in la liga competition and their silence explains why the Catalan club presents the worst scoring mark at Primera Divisi??n: 22 goals in 28 matches.

Tamudo is the only striker that has had an average of ten goals scored within the last nine seasons, but on the present campaign he has only conquered three, two of them from the penalty spot. Actually, Espanyol’s marksman doesn’t score a goal since November 16, this means four and a half months in blank. Meanwhile Luis Garc?a has had an average of eleven goals within the five seasons he has spent at Primera, he reached the peak on the past campaign with thirteen, and now he has only added three to his tally. Also, the Asturian has been scoreless for the last five months.

The good news for Pochettino is that Sergio S??nchez, Marc Torrej??n and ?Lola’ Smiljanic returned from international duty without major concerns, while Carlos Kameni (toe) and Francisco Joaqu?n P?rez ?Rufete’ (muscular) are fit to play after surpassing their problems. Also, Mois?s Hurtado is returning from suspension.

But Steve Finnan (knee ligaments) is already discarded for the rest of the season while ?ngel Mart?nez (quadriceps) is out of Depor’s game. Right-back Francisco Javier Chica is missing the clash for suspension, while midfielder Oscar Sielva surpassed a shoulder problem, but Pochettino didn’t pick him for the game, neither Valdo was chosen, the ex-Osasuna will see the game from the stands.

For the game against Depor, Pochettino will use a 4-2-3-1 formation. Carlos Kameni will be the keeper, Sergio S??nchez will replace suspended Chica at the right-back position, Argentine Nicol??s Pareja and Daniel Jarque will be the two central defenders, and David Garcia will perform on the left.

The couple at midfield will be totally different to the duo that faced Osasuna, because Iv??n De La Pe?a is now fit to play and he’s joining Mois?s Hurtado, who is retuning from suspension. What won’t change is the attacking zone, because ex-Real Madrid Castilla Jos? Callej??n will stay on the right wing, Nen? on the left, recent addition Iv??n Alonso performing as playmaker and Ra??l Tamudo up front.

Left-back David Garc?a, who has been linked with a move to Depor for the upcoming summer market, was talking about the state of mind at the squad, ?We are willing for Sunday’s match against Deportivo La Coru?a and get out this anxiety that we are living for our current situation. We know that a lot is at stake in this encounter. The week could be too long for us. It is normal to have a more intense training, taking in mind the situation we are living. There are more nerves and people are more involved."

Meanwhile, Iv??n De La Pe?a, one of the symbols of the club, was showing his conviction about the salvation of Espanyol, ?"I think we are going to save ourselves. People would say I’m crazy, but I think the team really thinks so. Otherwise, I would not say that. For the way we train, play ... I am convinced that we will be saved. I say it with the head and the heart. This team is strong and has shown this on previous years. "

Ex-Celta Luis de Carvalho ?Nen?’ is convinced that this is one of the last chances for Espanyol in order to be saved, ?Maybe this is the last chance. The games against Deportivo La Coru?a and Numancia will mark our destination. We will know whether we will be at Segunda or if we will have a second chance to achieve the permanence. We know it is very difficult but everything can happen. It might be that we can win three straight games and to change everything. I sincerely believe that this team can go up and we'll keep the same hope. "

List of called players (19): Kameni, Cristian ?lvarez (goalkeepers); Lacruz, Torrej??n, Sergio S??nchez, Jarque, Pareja, David Garc?a (defenders); Mois?s Hurtado, Smiljanic, Rom??n Mart?nez, Rufete, Nen?, Corominas, De la Pe?a (midfielders) Iv??n Alonso, Luis Garc?a, Tamudo and Callej??n (strikers).

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Espanyol: Kameni - Sergio S??nchez, Jarque, Pareja, David Garc?a – De La Pe?a, Mois?s Hurtado – Callej??n, Iv??n Alonso, Nen? - Tamudo
Deportivo: Aranzubia - Laure, Lopo, Pablo Amo, Filipe - Z? Castro, De Guzm??n - Lafita, Verd??, Guardado - Riki.
Referee: Luis Median Cantalejo (11 games on the season, 4 wins for the visitor)
Kick-off: 17h00 CET (Montjuic)
Record Vs Espanyol: 30 wins for Depor, 16 draws, 27 wins for Espanyol (Primera & Segunda)
Record at Montjuic: 7 wins for Depor, 6 draws, 23 wins for Espanyol (Primera & Segunda)

ARCHIVE NEWS APR/09

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