Competition news


24 Apr 2009
The battle for Europe continues at La Rosaleda as Depor visits Malaga. Lotina is having for the first time three available strikers, while Malaga is betting in the ?collectivity’, the secret that has put Tapia’s squad among the elite in Spain.

Malaga is truly the surprise of the liga campaign 2008/2009, the Andalusian squad was appointing to be one of the candidates to return to Segunda Divisi??n, but instead their spectacular results are leaving them involved in the fight for Europe. Meanwhile, the other two recent comers to Primera Divisi??n, Numancia and Sporting Gij??n, are currently struggling to survive.

The secret is a certain balance in all the lines, Malaga has added 26 points at home and 24 away from La Rosaleda, while the squad already scored 51 goals after 32 matchdays, an even better scoring record compared to the ones of Villarreal (47) and Sevilla (44), two clubs aspiring to the Champions League. Maybe their only problem is at defence, because so far the squad of Antonio Tapia has leaked 50 goals, between the top seven clubs in la liga, only Atletico Madrid (53) has a worse number after been crushed by Racing Santander on Thursday (5-1).

Also, both teams present a similar behaviour in recent matches, Malaga could only add one of the nine points in the confrontations against giants Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla, but in their last three games, they have added seven points. Deportivo, meanwhile, had a difficult moment between matchdays 27 and 30 adding just one of twelve possible points, but the Galicians arrive to this game strengthened after clinching two straight victories.

To emphasise that La Rosaleda has been a positive stadium for Deportivo. Since Malaga FC switched from CD Malaga, the Andalusians have been only able to beat Depor once, it was on the season 1999/2000 (1-0), in the remaining six matches played there, Depor has won twice and has achieved four draws, including three straight 1-1 ties (2003/2004, 2004/2005 & 2005/2006). Finally, to appoint that Malaga has only added two of the last twelve points disputed at home (draws against Sevilla and RCD Mallorca)

For the first time in two months, coach Lotina is able to count with three strikers ahead of an official game. Riki has finally surpassed the ankle problem that sidelined him within the last month and was picked for the game at La Rosaleda. In this way, he is joining Lassad and Bodipo as the alternatives for the encounter.

Lotina hasn’t been able to reunite three attackers for a single official game within the last two months, this due the injury cases affecting his squad since the year 2009 started. The last time in which three attackers were available for the coach was for the home liga match against Valencia FC (February 22), day in which Lassad and Bodipo played, while Omar Bravo stayed on the bench.

Precisely, the striking zone is the only novelty that Lotina has prepared compared to the previous match with Almeria. Bodipo was the starting choice at the Riazor and Depor’s coach had admitted he might be tired, reason why all appoints that Lassad Nouioui will occupy the spot of lonely striker at La Rosaleda, this after the Tunisian impressed with his performance as second striker and has he scored his second goal in liga against Almeria.

The rest should be the same 4-2-3-1 formation that played on Wednesday, Dani Aranzubia will be at the goal and will try to achieve his third straight clean sheet. Manuel Pablo will continue at the right-back position and Filipe Luis on the left side. Finally, Portuguese Z? Castro and Argentine Diego Colotto will cover the centre of the defence.

In midfield, Sergio and Juan Rodr?guez will cover the pivote functions, this last player is living a special moment since he is facing the club where he debuted at Primera Divisi??n. Meanwhile, Joan Verd?? will stay in the playmaking function. Lotina confessed the Catalan played infiltrated against Almeria since he has a toe injured; this was the reason why he was replaced by Lassad. However, the problem didn’t prevent him from scoring a goal and to be a starter in this occasion.

Angel Lafita is also fit to play after surpassing a knee sprain, but Lotina decided to not pick him for the match, the Aragonian still as the Pichichi at Depor with eight goals so far, but Depor’s coach prefers to evalue Pablo Alvarez ahead of next season. That’s why ?The Shark? will be the starting choice at the right wing, though Lotina announced that Lafita will return for the clash against Valladolid. Meanwhile, Andr?s Guardado will keep playing at the left wing.

Mista, Albert Lopo and Antonio Tom??s still at the injury room, the three of them are now joined by Adri??n L??pez ?Piscu’, the Galician central defender has been struggling with an ankle problem since some weeks ago and the doctors have determined that he suffered a sprain, reason why he is out of the game.

Manuel Pablo was talking to reporters and affirmed that he is feeling fine after playing on Wednesday, ?I’m missing some spark, but I am fine, it is normal. I am fine, because I thought I will start to face some troubles during the last fifteen or twenty minutes, but I didn’t have any problem. Since Saturday I was hoping to go to Bilbao and have some minutes, this in order to improve my physical condition.?

The Canarian side defender was also talking about the importance of the match, ?Tomorrow’s game is very important for both sides, there’s a group of three or four teams that are very close to each other and if we don’t obtain something positive, we will be forced to depend of other results. We see ourselves up there, we are completing a great campaign and we want to keep on giving to talk. We are hopeful, we have an option to be in Europe and we want to achieve it.?

List of called players (19): Aranzubia, Mun??a (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Laure, Z? Castro, Pablo Amo, Colotto, Filipe (defenders); Sergio, De Guzman, Juan Rodr?guez, Pablo ?lvarez, Guardado, Cristian, Verd??, Valer??n (midfielders); Bodipo, Riki and Lassad (strikers).

The good and surprising situation of Malaga on the liga season should have several explanations, but the main one is the collectivity, because no one stands out at one squad that seems very solid in all the lines. There are no ?stars’ and anyone can be the hero in a particular match. As a demonstration of this argument, the fact that 10 of the 24 players used by Antonio Tapia in liga have scored at least once in the competition. And it’s that the attacks during the games don’t depend of a single player, but on who’s standing in the better position to score the goals. It means a change for Deportivo, since in the last two games the Galicians have focused their defensive efforts in blocking a single rival (Llorente and Negredo).

This explanation demonstrates why players like Apo?o, (8) Eliseu (7) and Duda (5), men that should be giving assists to the strikers, have scored more goals than the same Adri??n (3), forward that’s considered as the main reference alongside Baha. Another thing to emphasise from Malaga is its bet in Spanish people. Against Osasuna,  coach Antonio Tapia put eight Spaniards in the starting lineup, while he used nine a few weeks ago against Barcelona. That’s the highest mark between the 18 clubs that hire foreign players at Primera (Athletic Bilbao and Numancia only plays with locals).

Tapia will release the list of picked players until hours before the game, but it is expected he will fulfill three changes ahead of the match against the Galicians. Central defender Jes??s G??mez was sent off against Osasuna, and his replacement will be Brazilian Robson Wellington, who missed the game at Pamplona due to an adductor injury.

The second modification is the return of Javi Calleja to the left-back position, the ex-Villarreal missed the game with Osasuna due to a muscular problem and now he is ready to replace ex-Getafe Ignacio P?rez ?Nacho’. Calleja seems to be one of the targets of Depor ahead of next season, on Thursday he told to Radio Galega there’s a strong possibility he might sign for Depor. Who could join him in his trip to La Coru?a is Adri??n, striker that is ending his loan period in June and that’s unable to play since Deportivo is his parent club, the ex-Oviedo youngster will be replaced in this game by Salvador Ballesta ?Salva’, the ex-Racing has scored four goals on the season.

The rest of the formation should be the usual 4-4-2 draw, with young I?aki Goitia as the keeper, Manuel Gaspar ?Manolo’ covering the right-back position, and ex-Real Murcia Iv??n Cuadrado joining Wellington at the centre of the defence.

At midfield, Antonio Galdeano ?Apo?o’ and Manuel Ortiz ?Lolo’ will occupy the pivote functions, no matter been a defensive duo, together both players have scored 11 goals in the competition (8 for Apo?o and 3 for Lolo).  The wings are also one of the stronger points at Malaga, Portuguese Eliseu Pereira has called the attention of half Europe with his performance and his seven goals in liga, he will be covering the right wing, while his compatriot, Sergio Paulo Barbosa ?Duda’, who has scored three times, will perform on the left side. Depor must be alert of Duda’s deadly set-pieces.

In attack, Nabil Baha will be joining Salva in the offensive tasks, the ex-Racing de Ferrol man is also living a positive season with nine goals scored in the liga tournament, he is currently the Pichichi of the Andalusian team.

Salva was talking before the game about the importance of the three points, "Yesterday there were good results, but we have to win against Deportivo, which is now our direct rival. We must seize the momentum and the strong positive mentality we have now. We must win at home in order to regain effectiveness at our stadium. To win on tomorrow’s game is not decisive, but it would mean a blow on the table to show that we are not there by accident. We are five points away from the Champions and we aren’t going to give up anything. I hope the public will pressure up, because we need their help, it is essential. Depor has a great team and it will be a very open and hotly contest.?

Finally, ex-Depor Albert Luque was talking about his chances to play the game, "Adrian can’t play and there are options such as Salva or me, but we can also play together. The opponents for the European spots are hard: Villarreal, Deportivo or 'Atleti' are great teams. In recent matchdays we aren’t getting points at home and we have to add at La Rosaleda. To Depor I will always be grateful and to play against them is always special for me, but once the initial whistle is blown, I will only want the three points. Of Depor I can only remember the beautiful things. To be able to score a goal in a bicycle kick (against Malaga in Riazor) would be nice, but I would sign to score at any possible way and I will fight for it."

M??laga: Goitia - Manolo, Wellington, Cuadrado, Calleja - Eliseu, Lolo, Apo?o Duda – Baha, Salva.
Deportivo: Aranzubia - Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Z? Castro, Filipe - Sergio, Juan Rodr?guez - Pablo ?lvarez, Verd??, Guardado - Lassad.
Referee: Alfons Xavier Alvarez Izquierdo (13 games on the season, 3 wins for the visitor)
Kick-off: 20h00 CET (La Rosaleda)
Head-to-head Vs Malaga FC: 9 wins for Depor, 5 draws, 1 win for Malaga (Primera)
Record at La Rosaleda: 2 wins for Depor, 4 draws, 1 win for Malaga (Primera)



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