Competition news


21 Dec 2009
Depor couldn’t end the year reaching the Champions League positions, but at least it kept the Europa League spot. It was a cautious match in which both trainers didn’t want to lose. Valencia had the ball possession, but Depor the best chances.

No surprises at both starting lineups: Lotina returned to the 4-2-3-1 system, with Aranzubia at the goal, Manuel Pablo fit to play and occupying the right-back position, Colotto and Lopo were at the centre of the defence, and Filipe on the left sector; Sergio and Antonio Tomás were the two pivotes, Juan Rodríguez was playing at the right wing, Guardado on the left and Juan Carlos Valerón was returning in order to claim the role of playmaker; finally Adrián was the lonely attacker.

At Valencia, coach Unai Emery presented the expected 4-2-3-1 figure, with David Villa as the main reference in attack, and with Joaquín and Juan Manuel Mata playing behind him. The cold wave in Europe was also affecting Galicia and La Coruña, the temperature at the moment of the match was around 3 degrees Centigrade and the humidity was 70%. Before the kick-off, Galician athlete Estefania Hernández was honored, she recently won the European championship of tae-kwon-do.

Both teams started trying to attack and finding the cracks at the defensive lines, the first attempt to score came at the 6th minute as Mata found the ball at the edge of the area, but his effort went wide. Then the visitors slightly started to dominate the actions, with Argentine Ever Banega directing the traffic of the ball, and with Joaquín and Miguel very active on the right wing.

The first approximation of Deportivo came at minute 12, it was a cross of Juan Rodríguez from the right, but the Andalusian midfielder didn’t find a receiver and the ball was cleared by Miguel, though later Guardado stole it without any consequence. Three minutes later Banega was attempting from mid-distance, but his crossed shot went out.

Then Antonio Tomás committed a foul over Banega at the edge of the area, Villa was close to score in the resulting free-kick, but the ball went out. Two minutes later it was Depor the team that had a chance through a set-piece, Sergio took a lateral free-kick, Juan Rodriguez headed the ball, but he was offside.

It was an important game for the things at stake, maybe that’s why the pace was a little slow at the mid part of the first half, just like as both teams were trying to be cautious. Valencia was still having the ball possession, but was unable to surpass a solid defensive line of Deportivo; meanwhile the locals were trying to attack through fast moves that were ending in crosses to the area, but in the major part of the occasions the visitors were having a numeric superiority and were easily clearing the danger. At minute 22 Depor had a great opportunity after a great move of Valerón, but Sergio sent the ball over the crossbar with his attempt from the edge of the area.

Then Depor started to live its best moment in the first part and in the game; at minute 28 a long pass of Antonio Tomás left Adrián alone against César and Alexis, the Asturian attacker was able to release a shot, but the visiting keeper made the save. Three minutes later the same striker missed the target from inside the area, it was after a little distraction at Valencia’s defensive sector allowed Valerón to drill a perfect pass searching for Depor’s lonely attacker.

And later the locals hit the crossbar, again the danger came after a good combination between Adrián and Valerón, the Canarian found the ball at the penalty spot, he tried to chip the ball through a header, but it ended hitting the wood. It was the most dangerous play of the whole match. At this stage of the game Valencia was having big problems to create something, and their only two chances within the final twenty minutes were a header of Alexis that was stopped by Aranzubia (43’) and two minutes later Villa eluded Lopo to release a strong shot that missed the target.

It was a slow match that had three different scenarios: Valencia started better as the visitors had the ball possession though without creating clear opportunities, then both teams were stuck at midfield during the mid part of the encounter, and finally Depor found the ball for the final twenty minutes, mainly through the connection between Valerón and Adrián, but there was no luck and the Galicians could only hit the crossbar despite having three clear attempts in the final stretch of the half.

The final part started with Valencia pushing up front, first with a long pass searching for Villa and that Aranzubia cleared to midfield, then the same Villa found the ball inside the area, but his final header turned into an easy save for Depor’s keeper.  Then a dead ball inside the area was close to be capitalised by Mata and Villa, but Aranzubia stopped the action.

Depor responded with a new great combination between Adrián and Valerón, the Asturian striker chipped the ball over the defensive line of the visitors, and El Flaco concluded the action with an attempt that passed close to the post (54’). Despite the action, the Galicians were having big problems trying to attack, mainly because Albelda was closely marking Valerón. Then, Baraja was replaced by Jordi Alba, modification that forced Banega to delay his position on the pitch.

Then Depor had a clear attempt to score as Guardado took a free-kick from the left wing that Sergio headed out (62’). It was the clearest action for Depor in the second half and also a mirage, because the visitors continued with the ball possession, though without any clear scoring opportunity. Valencia was pushing in attack and the locals were having big problems to found Valerón , player that seemed now exhausted.

That’s why Lotina decided to make his first substitution -the only one in the game- as Pablo Alvarez replaced the Canarian, move that left ‘The Shark’ as the playmaker of the team, while Juan Rodriguez was still playing on the right wing. Before the change, Villa appeared to release two consecutive long-distance shots that missed the target.

Guardado appeared at minute 74 to release a shot from the edge of the area, but César blocked the shot. It was just the second save made by the ex-Real Madrid keeper in the game, and it’s that despite the big opportunities had before by Depor, all those opportunities ended with shots missing the target, with the exceptions of Valerón’s effort that hit the crossbar and the effort of Adrián that was deflected by César.

The final minutes didn’t show anything new despite the physical effort displayed by both teams, just the protest of the public for an offside of Guardado during a free-kick of Sergio, and a possible penalty of Dealbert over Pablo Alvarez when both were searching for a cross of Adrián at Valencia’s area.

Both teams were too cautious and nobody wanted to risk during a game that was trying to define the fourth place in the table, as result a goalless game that left a bad taste of mouth to Deportivo, firstly because it was playing at home, secondly because it had the best scoring opportunities despite the ball possession was for Valencia, and thirdly because the Galicians have just added two of the last nine points in dispute. The best opportunities came during combinations between Valerón and Adrián.

At least Depor is able to keep the European spot, tied in points with Mallorca in the Europa League zone, and with Valencia still two points over Lotina’s team and with third place Sevilla FC just three points above Depor. Now the team goes to the Christmas break and will return to train until Monday December 28. The next liga match is the visit to Real Zaragoza on Sunday January 3rd, 2010 (17h00 CET)

Deportivo: Aranzubia - Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Lopo, Filipe Luis - Sergio, Antonio Tomás - Juan Rodríguez, Valerón (Pablo Álvarez 71’), Guardado - Adrián.
Valencia: César - Miguel, Alexis, Dealbert, Bruno – Baraja (Jordi Alva 57’), Albelda - Joaquín, Banega, Mata  (Fernandes 90+1’) - Villa.
Referee: Carlos Delgado Ferreiro. He showed yellow card to Banega (61’), Juan Rodriguez (84’), César (87’) and Jordi Alba (90+1’).
Venue: Riazor (11,000)
Other statistics: Ball possession (44% - 56%); Total shots (13 - 12); Shots on target (4 - 2); Saves by the keepers (2 - 2); Corner-kicks  (2 - 4); Offsides (4 - 3); Fouls committed (7 - 15); Accuracy in the passes (80.82% - 85.86%)




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