Competition news


26 Sep 2010
Two teams in troubles try to find the path to the victory; Lotina is trying to motivate his players ahead of this clash, while Lillo could be living his last game as the head coach of Almeria. There aren’t many clues on the starting lineup of Depor.

Maybe the season is just starting, but it calls the attention the fact that Deportivo has only picked three points after the first four liga matches, and it’s necessary to go back to the season 1968/69 in order to find a worst start, as on that campaign the Galician team lost the first four encounters at Primera División: 1-3 at CD Malaga, 2-4 Vs Real Madrid, 0-4 at RCD Espanyol and 1-2 at Las Palmas.

Since that season Depor has always clinched at least one victory within the first four matchdays, even in the debuting campaign of Lotina although the team lived difficult moments throughout the first round. To mention that the only time in which Deportivo spent without winning at least one game after five or more matches was on the season 1966/67, in that opportunity the Galicians lasted nine games to achieve their first triumph and subsequently ended at Segunda División.

And neither UD Almeria is living a good moment, because the Andalusians are, for the first time in their three years at Primera, living at the relegation zone, this after only picking two points in the first four matches. Actually Almeria and Deportivo are two of the three clubs in la liga that haven’t won yet –the other is Zaragoza- Therefore the meeting at the Riazor is a confrontation between two teams that, maybe are not in crisis, but close to suffer a downward spiral that could be dangerous.

The poor start on the season has forced coach Miguel Angel Lotina to search for motivation for his players, and the Basque man chose the union as the way to push the team forward. He believes that the best way to overcome this ‘hole’ is the cooperation and the solidarity between the players. For this reason he decided three things: the first was to have a reunion behind closed doors with his men, something that took place on Friday.

In that meeting the coach asked the players for their opinion on this ‘mini-crisis’ and later encouraged them to practice an offensive football; it was an exchange of opinions in the attempt to demonstrate that this is everybody’s problem. Lotina also decided, for the first time on this season, to pick all the available men (20) for the meeting with Almeria.

And the final measure was to concentrate the players at Hotel Hesperia Finisterre since Saturday’s evening, something that Lotina only made once three seasons ago before the key 3-1 victory against Real Valladolid. Definitely, the coach is assuming the game as it was it a final. About the starting lineup, it is a complete mystery, because the Basque manager didn’t give many clues during Saturday’s training.

The only thing for sure is that Manuel Fernandez ‘Manu’ will be at the goal as Aranzubia still out of competition; the Basque keeper already surpassed his shoulder injury, but the doctors are not yet recommending him to play, therefore Felipe Ramos from Deportivo B was picked once again as second keeper.

The major part of the spots at defence are defined, all appoints that Manuel Pablo will return after been left on the bench for the visit to Villarreal, while the central positions will surely by for Albert Lopo and Diego Colotto; the main doubt on here is who will be the left-back defender, because Lotina said that Knut Rindarøy might debut taking the place of Claudio Morel, the Norwegian has never played wearing Depor’s shirt and actually this is the first time in which he is picked for a liga match.

More question marks appear at midfield, Lotina still has to decide if Ruben Perez will stay at the starting formation of Deportivo, or if he will choose to play with Juan Rodriguez or Juca, what seems clear is that Antonio Tomás will be a starter after been left out of the clash with Villarreal.

In attack, Lassad Nouioui will be the playmaker in the 4-2-3-1 figure, this is the new role of the Tunisian as Lotina has liked his performance on the position, another expected thing is to witness the return of Andrés Guardado to the starting eleven as the Mexican will attack by the left wing. It seems that Yves Desmarets will be moved to the right, though Saul Fernandez has also his chances to appear as starter.

At the centre of the attack, Adrian should be the starting choice, but Lotina also gave options to Dionisio Villalba 'Dioni', the top-scorer of Fabril that could play his first game as starter after debuting with the first team on Thursday.  It also calls the attention the fact that Juan Carlos Valerón was picked for the first time on the liga campaign, while Juan Dominguez, Pablo Álvarez, Michel, Riki and Urreta are the five players staying at the injury room.

Diego Colotto was admitting the bad moment of Deportivo, but at the same time the Argentine was asking for patience, The start on the season hasn’t been as we have wanted; the draws are worthless if later we don’t achieve the victories, but we are calmed because each day we are working hard and we know things will work out. The necessity to win is generating excitement and bringing adrenaline; we know which errors can’t be allowed.”

Before the game, Dioni was commenting the previous game with Villarreal and at the same time was hoping for a new opportunity, ”My dream of debuting at Primera is already real, but the team was unlucky as we were unable to tie. It was a complicate match, against a rival that will be at the top places, but to make a debut is always positive. Now my aspiration is to play again, let’s hope it could happen.”

List of picked players (21): Manu, Felipe Ramos (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Laure, Rindarøy, Morel, Lopo, Colotto, Aythami, Ze Castro (defenders); Juan Rodríguez, Rubén Pérez, Juca, Antonio Tomás, Guardado, Valerón, Desmarets, Saúl (midfielders); Lassad, Adrián and Dioni (strikers).

The Andalusian club has always been a humble team that knows how to suffer and that usually it’s very patient before taking drastic decisions, but Wednesday’s defeat at home against UD Levante (0-1) was an unexpected setback that could have consequences, because for their first time in their short career at Primera the team is living inside the relegation zone.

And it’s that just minutes after the final whistle president Alfonso García had an emergency meeting with his board of directors, it was rumoured that coach Juan Manuel Lillo was going to be fired and even the name of Gregorio Manzano was mentioned as a possible substitute, but in the end the president decided to hold on the decision, though later told to reporters that he could “only guarantee the presence of the coach for the match at the Riazor.” This clearly means that a new defeat will surely cause the first destitution at Primera División during the present season. 

Despite been in danger, Lillo is only making three changes compared to the team that disappointed against Levante, though it’s also true that there are a couple of tactical movements as he’s switching from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 scheme. The first modification is the exit of Brazilian Michel Machado from the starting lineup, his place at the right-back position will be covered by Juanma Ortiz, who in the previous meeting was the left defender.

Now the spot at the left will be for ex-AaB Michael Jakobsen ,  the Danish already played against Depor as he faced the Galicians in the Europa League. Meanwhile, Carlos Garcia and Peruvian Wilmer Acasiete will perform at the centre of the defence and Brazilian Diego Alves will stay at the goal.

At midfield, Colombian Fabian Vargas is out due to a muscular problem and his place alongside Argentine Hernán Bernardello will be taken by Cameroonian Modeste M´Bami, while Lillo is putting a third man on the sector as Argentine Diego Valeri will play towards the left, the ex-Lanus is a talented man that’s playing at the Andalusian team loaned from Porto.

The third modification in the scheme is the exit of striker Henok Goitom allowing the entry of Argentine José Leonardo Ulloa, who has scored one of the two goals of Almeria on the liga season. The ex-Castellon will be the central attacker, while Pablo Piatti will perform towards the right wing and Albert Crusat will do the same towards the left.

List of picked players (18): Diego Alves, Esteban (goalkeepers); Michel, Juanma Ortiz, Acasiete, Carlos García, Marcelo Silva, Jakobsen (defenders); Bernardello, M'bami, Valeri, Corona, José Ortiz, Crusat (midfielders); Ulloa, Goitom, Kalu Uche and Piatti (strikers).

Deportivo:  (4-2-3-1) Manu - Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Lopo, Rindarøy or Morel - Antonio Tomás, Juan Rodríguez or Juca or Rubén Pérez - Desmarets, Lassad, Guardado  - Dioni or Adrián.
Almeria: (4-3-3) Diego Alves - Juanma Ortiz, Carlos García, Acasiete, Jakobsen - M'Bami, Bernardello, Valeri - Piatti, Ulloa, Crusat.
Referee: José Luis González González
Kick-off: 17h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs Almeria: 2 wins for Depor, 2 draws, 2 wins for Almeria (Primera)
Record at the Riazor: 1 win for Depor, 1 draw, 1 win for Almeria (Primera)



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