Competition news

PREVIEW: ATHLETIC – DEPORTIVO (LIGA)

15 May 2010
Depor visits San Mamés in the only game of the final matchday in liga in which nothing is at stake, therefore both coaches have prepared some tests and good-byes. Lotina will allow the participation of Manu and Filipe as starters.

STATISTICS: THE BATTLE OF THE DOWNFALLS
Just two months ago Deportivo and Athletic Bilbao were alive and kicking in the race for Europe, but their latest performance ruled them out of the competition. Depor is playing for nothing since three matchdays ago, while the Basques were left out of the battle for the Europa League after been trashed by Real Madrid on the past weekend (1-5).

And it’s that within the last seven matchdays Athletic and Deportivo have been among the worst teams in la liga, the Basques only added six points in the period, while Depor just added five. Only Racing Stander (5), Malaga (5) and Sporting Gijón (4) have similar numbers. To mention that in the same period Deportivo has been the team with the poorest scoring record: only three goals in favour; and all of them were scored by Riki.

At least Depor can presume of having a good record at San Mamés, and it’s that the Galicians don’t lose a liga match in Bilbao since the season 2003/04 (0-1), since then they have added three wins and two draws. Actually, Depor is the Primera club that has spent more time without losing in Bilbao. However, it must be reminded that Deportivo is one of the three Primera teams that haven’t won yet any away match during the second round in liga (the other two are the same Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid); the Galicians just added two draws (0-0 at Malaga and 1-1 at Sevilla) and suffered nine defeats.

DEPORTIVO: RIKI AND THE SCORING MARKS
Without any chance to reach the European positions, Depor is now focused in ending the season in the best possible way. And all the eyes should be on striker Iván Sánchez Rico ‘Riki’, who tied his personal mark of goals scored at Primera División in the past game with Mallorca (8). He is the current Pichichi at the team and will also try to improve his stat of minutes per goal scored, on the present campaign his mark is one goal scored every 186.5 minutes, while his beast mark was achieved on the past edition of la liga (180).

In order to break it the Madrilenian needs one goal against Athletic, and if the ex-Getafe is able to score twice, then he will became into the first Depor’s player since the season 2005/06 that reaches the mark of ten goals scored in one single liga tournament, the last one was Diego Tristán with eleven goals scored. But still, it will remain far from the best marks at Depor: Bebeto (29, 1992/93), Roy Makaay (29, 2002/03), Bebeto (25, 1995/96), Roy Makaay (22, 1999/00) Rivaldo (21, 1996/97) and Diego Tristán (21, 2001/02).

Also, Deportivo is currently the second worst team in terms of goals scored in la liga (35), only Espanyol has conquered a lesser number (29). The main problem has occurred in the second round, because Depor has only scored twelve goals within the last eighteen matchdays. And the name of Riki appears again related to this stat, because the Madrilenian has scored six of those twelve goals.

That’s why it was important to see Riki joining the list of picked players after missing the first training sessions of the week due to an inopportune thigh problem, in the end the player was picked up, but Lotina will decide his participation in the starting formation until Saturday’s morning.

For the game Depor’s trainer decided to not pick anyone from Deportivo B, this since the B team is playing the first-leg of the promotion playoffs in the same day. He neither gave too many clues of the lineup that will be presented, but there are two things for sure, first that he will give a chance to keeper Manuel Fernández Muñiz ‘Manu‘, who will play his third game at Primera, therefore Aranzubia won’t be able to face his former club.

The other thing for granted is that Filipe Luis will be a starter for the first time after suffering his fracture in the game of the first round, the Brazilian will cover the left-back position, while Manuel Pablo should be on the right. It is speculated that Lotina will give a chance to Ze Castro at the centre of the defence, because during the week he was picked by Carlos Queiroz for the Portuguese team that will play the FIFA World Cup 2010, his partner should be Albert Lopo.

It’s expected a 4-2-3-1 figure, with Sergio and Juca as the two pivotes, Juan Rodriguez performing at the right wing, Lassad Nouioui on the left and Juan Carlos Valerón in the playmaking function. Finally, if Riki is not fit to play, then his spot at the centre of the attack will be covered by Adrian.

A good news is that, after all the problems had throughout the season, Deportivo is ending the liga campaign with just three players at the injury room: Piscu, Juan Dominguez and Pablo Alvarez, while Andres Guardado is already fine and even scored a goal in Thursday’s friendly game between Mexico and Angola (1-0).

List of picked players (18): Aranzubía, Manu (goalkeepers); Laure, Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Lopo, Ze Castro, Filipe (defenders); Antonio Tomás, Juca,  Sergio, Iván Pérez, Juan Rodríguez, Valerón (midfielders); Mista, Adrián, Lassad and Riki (strikers).

ATHLETIC: BITTERSWEET SEASON
The fans of Deportivo and Athletic Bilbao have a thing in common: both groups are ending the season with a bittersweet taste in the mouth; the Basques made a decent participation in the Europa League, but weren’t able to pass the knockout stage, while they were eliminated early from Copa Del Rey. Therefore all the expectations were in la liga, tournament in which the Basques were involved in the fight for Europe, but a terrible end is leaving them without any chance to end among the top seven teams.

And it’s that Athletic only added six of the last twenty-four points in dispute, similar mark to the one of Deportivo. Reason why a sense of disappointment can be detected at Bilbao; even the players are admitting it, as defender Koikili told to reporters during the week, “We weren’t able to win the decisive games and died at the border, we are screwed because we had real options to enter and at the last minute we were left out.”

Similar was the feeling of midfielder Javi Martínez, “It was a pity, we had games that were finals, but we weren’t fine in the key moments and for that reason we are out of Europe. We were wishing to have a chance until the last game, at home and against a solid rival, but this bad streak suffered in the final stretch is leaving us out.”

Now the only interest in the game against Depor is to say good-bye to three players: midfielders Joseba Etxeberria, Iñaki Muñoz and keeper Armando Riveiro, the trio is retiring and coach Joaquin Caparrós will tribute them with some minutes on the pitch. Etxeberria and Armando are going to be starters, while Iñaki Muñoz may have some minutes in the second part. Etxeberria will probably receive the biggest ovation at San Mamés, this after a 15-years career at the Basque club, which includes 514 matches wearing the shirt of Athletic.

However, Fran Yeste won’t be able to say good-bye to the fans as he wasn’t picked due to an inflammation in one of his legs; the midfielder is ending contract in June and a lot has been said about the negotiations to extend his career in Bilbao, but the Basque media believes that he will leave, actually in recent weeks his name has been linked with Deportivo. 

Caparrós will also use the game to reward some of the players with lesser minutes, in this sense central defender Ustaritz Aldekoaotalora is going to replace Fernando Amorebieta, who is suspended for the match. Ustaritz has only played 14 games on the liga season (1,159 minutes); it’s the same numbers of matches disputed by Ander Iturraspe, a 21-year-old central midfielder from the B squad that’s going to replace Javi Martinez in the starting team.

In the end the ex-Depor coach is planning to use a 4-4-2 figure, with Armando at the goal, Andoni Iraola at the right-back position and ex-Sestao River Koikili Lertxundi performing on the left. Young promise Mikel San José should be joining Ustaritz at the centre of the defence.

At midfield, Carlos Gurpegi should be joining Iturraspe in the pivote functions, while Markel Susaeta will perform on the right wing and Igor Gabilondo on the left. Etxeberria will be the second striker and will perform behind Fernando Llorente, this last player is the 10th best scorer in la liga with fourteen goals added to his tally (the 29% of the total scored by Athletic).

List of picked players (19): Iraizoz, Armando (goalkeepers), Koikili, Ustaritz, San José, Iraola (defenders); David López, Muñoz, Gabilondo, , Susaeta, , Orbaiz, Gurpegi, Javi Martínez, Iturraspe (midfielders), Toquero, Llorente, Etxeberria, Muniain and De Marcos (strikers).

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Manu – Manuel Pablo, Lopo, Ze Castro, Filipe – Sergio, Juca – Juan Rodríguez, Valerón, Lassad – Riki or Adrián.
Athletic: (4-4-2) Armando - Iraola, San José, Ustaritz, Koikili – Susaeta, Gurpegi, Iturraspe, Gabilondo – Etxeberria, Llorente.
Referee: Manuel Enrique Mejuto Gonzalez (17 matches on the season, 7 wins for the visitor)
Kick-off: 18h00 CET (San Mamés)
Head-to-head Vs Athletic: 31 wins for Deportivo, 22 draws, 26 wins for Athletic (Primera)
Record at San Mamés: 9 wins for Deportivo, 11 draws, 19 wins for Athletic (Primera)

ARCHIVE NEWS MAY/10

ZAPPING

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