Squad news


23 Jan 2010
New battle for the European places; Lotina and Depor want to forget the last two defeats and also the continuous casualties striking the squad, while Caparrós and Athletic want to end the first round among the top five places.

Athletic Bilbao is living its sweetest moment on the season, with six victories within the last ten liga matches and with only two defeats suffered during the period, curiously against direct rivals fighting for the same European dream: 1-2 Vs Valencia (matchday 13) and 2-0 at RCD Mallorca (matchday 16), and to mention that The Lions are arriving to the Riazor after clinching a 1-0 win against title-contender Real Madrid.

Besides, to emphasise that Athletic Bilbao currently possesses the same visiting record than Deportivo, with four wins and two draws away from San Mamés and with only three defeats playing in this condition: 0-1 at Tenerife (matchday 04), 0-2 at Getafe (matchday 08) and  0-2 at Mallorca (matchday 16). Meanwhile, the record of Deportivo at home just represents the seventh best mark at Primera División: seventeen points after nine matches disputed at the Riazor.

But in recent times Deportivo seems to have found the way to stop the Basques, more precisely since Joaquín Caparrós switched La Coruña for Bilbao; and it’s that since the Andalusian is the coach of Athletic, Depor has clinched three wins and one draw after four liga confrontations. To emphasise that the last two meetings at the Riazor were clear victories for the locals (3-0 on the season 2007/08 and 3-1 on the 2008/09 campaign)

Coach Miguel Angel Lotina is still having a headache as the casualties continue to be the headlines for Depor’s games. For the clash against Athletic Bilbao there are six players staying at the injury room: Riki, Mista, Angulo, Guardado, Lassad and Sergio, while midfielder Juan Rodriguez is suspended after picking his fifth yellow card of the season in the past clash with RCD Mallorca.

Since Thursday Riki and Mista were normally training with the squad and it seemed that both could return for this game, but in the end Lotina decided to left them out of the clash. In order to complete the list of picked players and since there are four important casualties in attack, the Basque coach decided to pick David Añon, the striker/winger of Fabril debuted in Copa Del Rey on Wednesday and this is the second time in which he is picked for a liga confrontation.

Left-back Filipe Luis was close to miss the game after sustaining a muscular problem on the knee during the Copa clash with Sevilla, but by Friday he was recovered. The Brazilian defender hasn’t missed a game in liga since November 25th, 2007, curiously at San Mamés against Athletic Bilbao. Central defender Albert Lopo was also having a problem in one knee, but is fit to play, while Adrián López ‘Piscu’ skipped Friday’s training due to flu, but was included in the list for the game.

Lotina –who didn’t attend to Abegondo on Friday due to a visit to the dentist– is decided to return to the ‘classical’ 4-2-3-1 system after the failed attempt in Copa to reuse the scheme with five defenders. For it, the Basque manager is covering the absence of Juan Rodriguez at the right wing with Pablo Alvarez , who in the past game with Mallorca performed as a playmaker. Precisely, the big doubt is who will be the playmaker in the formation for this occasion.

Despite the final score, Fabril’s youngster Juan Dominguez impressed in the Copa clash with Sevilla, and Lotina could be tempted to use him in that position, and the other alternative is to use a veteran for the job: Juan Carlos Valerón, who is fresh as he only performed for a half an hour against Sevilla.

The expected lineup includes the same defensive sector that has performed since matchday 04: Aranzubia at the goal, Manuel Pablo at the right-back position, Filipe on the left, while Diego Colotto and Albert Lopo will be at the centre. At midfield, Antonio Tomás and Juca will perform on the pivote functions.

Despite that Iván Pérez didn’t impress with his performance against Sevilla, it seems that Lotina will keep using him at the left wing, this since there are no other left-footed players to cover the absence of Guardado. Finally, Adrián will be the central attacker.

Daniel Aranzubia was saying that it’s always special to face his former club, “Yes, it’s special because is the team that formed me as a player. It’s always tough to play against Athletic. In this case they didn’t play in midweek and I’m sure they will try to impose a high pace during the match.” He was also trying to justify the last two defeats of the Galician team, “We knew this moment could arrive. It’s difficult to keep the pace that we had, but we have a complicate calendar and the long list of casualties has complicated the things.”

List of picked players (18): Aranzubia, Manu (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Laure, Adrián López ‘Piscu’, Ze Castro, Colotto, Lopo, Filipe (defenders); Antonio Tomás, Juca, Iván Pérez, Juan Domínguez, Valerón, Pablo Álvarez, David Añón (midfielders); Bodipo and Adrián (strikers).

The Basques are living their best moment on the season, with twenty points added within the last ten matches in liga and after a motivating 1-0 win against Real Madrid at the San Mamés. This good form has allowed Caparrós’ team to climb up in the table, so high that they could end the first round in liga occupying a European place, but only if they defeat Deportivo.

Curiously, this good moment has coincided with several casualties at the team due to injury reasons, and it’s that Caparrós is missing seven players for the game against Depor: Defenders Aitor Ocio, Iban Zubiaurre and Xabier Castillo; midfielder Iñaki Muñoz; and strikers Ion Vélez and Joseba Etxeberria, plus defender Xavi Etxeita, who was operated during the week due to a pubalgy case. Besides, Carlos Gurpegui is suspended for the clash, while ex-Real Sociedad striker Diaz de Cerio wasn’t picked for technical reasons.

In the end Caparrós has prepared the same starting eleven that defeated Real Madrid on the past weekend, with the only novelty of Susaeta replacing Gurpegui, who was sent off against Madrid. Gorka Iraizoz will be the keeper, Andoni Iraola will cover the right-back position, one of the recent discoveries of Athletic, Mikel San José, will play at the centre of the defence alongside  Fernando Amorebieta, while Koikili Lertxundi will cover the left.

At midfield, Markel Susaeta, Pablo Orbaiz and Javi Martinez will compose the three-man line in the sector, with Susaeta performing towards the right and Martinez towards the left. In attack, Gaizka Toquero will cover the right wing, veteran Fran Yeste the left and Fernando Llorente will be the central attacker.

Llorente is the top-scorer at the team with six goals, while Toquero and Javi Martinez have added three. Also, to mention the presence of Iker Muniain Goñi at the bench, the 17-year-old midfielder has impressed with his performance on this season and is already considered as the big promise for the Basques, this after  scoring two goals in eleven matches.

Before the game, central defender Fernando Amorebieta was dreaming of a victory at the Riazor, “It will help us to keep living close to the first places. The team is mentalized and living a good moment. As we see ourselves, giving our best effort in each match and clinching the results, we could expect for this. Defeating Deportivo will mean to be among the top five places and we are in a situation in which we can believe it’s possible.”

Meanwhile, Markel Susaeta was asking to keep the same tension saw against Real Madrid, “We must keep the same tension of the last game and must seize our current form. In our last visits, in  Mallorca and Malaga, we could have obtained something more, and now we are going to the Riazor in order to obtain a victory that will be very important for us. And for this we can not low the tension, because if not, the victory on the other day will be worthless. We must give everything in order to make a new step forward.”

List of picked players (18): Iraizoz, Armando, (goalkeepers); Koikili, Ustaritz, Amorebieta, Gabilondo, San José, Iraola, Orbaiz (defenders); David López, Yeste, Javi Martínez, Iturraspe, Muniain (midfielders); Toquero, Llorente, Susaeta, and De Marcos (strikers).

Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Aranzubia - Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Lopo, Filipe Luis – Antonio Tomás, Juca - Pablo Álvarez, Juan Domínguez or Valerón, Iván Pérez - Adrián
Athletic Bilbao: (4-3-3) Iraizoz - Iraola, San José, Amorebieta, Koikili – Susaeta, Orbaiz, Javi Martínez – Toquero, Llorente, Yeste.
Referee: Xavier Estrada Fernández
Kick-off: 22h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs Athletic: 30 wins for Depor, 22 draws, 26 wins for Athletic (Primera)
Record at the Riazor: 21 wins for Depor, 11 draws, 7 wins for Athletic (Primera)



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