Competition news

PREVIEW: BARCELONA – DEPORTIVO (LIGA)

15 May 2011
Depor goes on tiptoes to Barcelona’s title celebration trying to obtain a positive result that could approach the permanence. Guardado is doubtful and Lotina might switch the draw, while the lineup of Barca is a mystery.

STATISTICS: THREE YEARS WITHOUT A WIN OVER BARCA
Deportivo has spent the last three years without achieving a victory over Barcelona FC, within the last two seasons the Catalans have won three of the four meetings with the other game ending in a draw, while the first round match on this liga campaign turned into a big 0-4 success for Barca at the Riazor. Actually, Depor has neither defeated the other giant club in Spain, Real Madrid FC, in the same period. The last win of Deportivo against Barcelona occurred on April 28, 2008 (2-0), curiously in similar circumstances as that day the Catalans arrived to the Riazor in the middle of a party, because three days before it achieved the Champions League, which at the time meant the mythic treble.

Normally, this match should be considered as defeat for Barcelona’s rival, just to emphasize the big differences between these two teams. Barca has led all the statistics on the liga season: best local team, best visitor, best defense, best offense… just to remember the fact that it has only lost five points at the Camp Nou (0-2 Vs. Hércules, matchday 02) and 1-1 Vs. RCD Mallorca (matchday 06). Meanwhile, Depor is the third worst visitor at Primera División, with only two wins and six draws in the period, which by the way is the worst mark at the club since the season 1972/73.

But it must be understand that this game is surrounded by unusual circumstances, it is different because Barcelona no longer needs to prove anything in la liga and is just thinking of the Champions League final game (against Manchester United FC in a fortnight), while Depor arrives to the Camp Nou desperately needing to scratch a positive result that, in the worst scenario, will allow to keep depending on itself in order to clinch the permanence, so the statistics might be deceiving after all.

Finally, a number that invites to optimism, newspaper La Voz de Galicia built up a report analyzing the fourteen million possible combinations of results within the last two matchdays and it determined that the possibilities of salvation for the Galicians are of 83.96%. The chances of ending the season tied with other clubs at the 18th spot are of 11.26%, which will require a tie-breaker according to the head-to-head results, and the chance of a direct relegation is only of 4.78%.

DEPORTIVO: THE MOMENT OF VALERÓN
It seems that Valerón has reborn after the day in which Deportivo defeated RCD Mallorca at the Riazor, on that day (Apr 03) the Galician team was losing 0-1 at half-time, then El Flaco jumped into the grass for the second part and changed the entire picture allowing the first comeback of Depor on the liga season (2-1). Since that day the Canarian playmaker has played six straight games as a starter and was only replaced by Morel when Laure was sent off in the visit to Malaga CF (matchday 31).

Within the last seven liga matches Valerón has disputed 540 minutes, which means the 60% of the total minutes that he has played on the whole liga tournament (895). Beyond the numbers, he has been the guidance for the team on the pitch, clearly he’s considered as a leader by the other players as everybody continuously praises his skills. Lotina has understand that this factor could be crucial to push the team forward and has finally gave the command of the ship to El Flaco

And the idea in order to face the always though visit to Barcelona FC is to keep trusting in Valerón; actually the original plans of Lotina were to repeat the 4-3-3 figure used during the last two games, but an inopportune muscular injury of Andrés Guardado is changing the tactic. Now the coach is considering a 4-3-1-2 figure, with another Canarian player, Aythami Artiles, composing a triple pivote figure at midfield.

Guardado is dragging a muscular problem since the past week and didn’t train properly throughout this week; on Saturday he just completed the first part of the session and had a bandage on his right thigh; he didn’t take part of the training match in which Lotina tested the team for the game at the Camp Nou. The Mexican was included in the final list of twenty players for the game, but it’s unlikely that he will be a starter.

So, the plan B is to present a 4-3-1-2 figure; with Dani Aranzubia at the goal; Laureano Sanabria ‘Laure’ performing at the right-back position, Manuel Pablo doing the same on the left, while the central defenders will be Albert Lopo and Diego Colotto.

At midfield, Aythami Artiles is joining Juan Rodriguez and Rubén Pérez composing a triple pivote figure, Rodriguez is dragging an ankle sprain, but will be a starter in the meeting; then Valerón will be the playmaker in the formation and there will be two strikers, one will be Riki, and the other is between Lassad and Adrián. The Asturian is the Pichichi at the team with eight goals on the season, three of them within the last two games, while the Tunisian is the second best scorer at the team with five goals added to his tally.

Taking in mind the physical problems of Guardado, Lotina has picked twenty players for the game; the novelty is to see Michel on the list, he has been of the coach’s plans within the last two months. Morel has just surpassed a hamstring strain injury, but wasn’t included in the list, instead the coach picked Fabril’s Diego Seoane, this despite that Depor B is playing for its life on Sunday against CD Guadalajara. Neither Juca or Sand were picked, while the two players at the injury room are Ze Castro and Antonio Tomás.

Riki was explaining the spirit that Depor must have in order to clinch the permanence, "Our idea to win at the Camp Nou, we need to be intense and aggressive, just like we did  in past matches. We know we have the chance to save ourselves in this game and it will be wonderful to do it against Barca."

List of picked players (20): Aranzubia, Manu (goalkeepers); Manuel Pablo, Laure, Seoane, Colotto, Lopo, Aythami (defenders); Juan Rodriguez, Juan Dominguez, Rubén Pérez, Valerón, Michel, Guardado, Saúl, Pablo Álvarez (midfielders); Adrián, Riki, Lassad and Xisco (strikers).

BARCELONA: WHO WILL PLAY?
Barcelona FC has been the leading force in Spain within the last three years; the Catalans are celebrating their third straight title in la liga. Just to mention the fact that of the last 112 games in the competition they have only lost 8 times. An astonishing stat that demonstrates their overwhelming dominance in one of the top leagues in Europe.

But the team that Depor will meet at the Camp Nou might be a complete different squad to the one that has amazed the world. Barcelona will face in a fortnight the final in the UEFA Champions League and, despite nobody has admitted it in public, the games against Depor and the next one against Malaga FC are just an impediment in the road to glory, especially the one against Depor as the team spent the last two days celebrating the title that was mathematically clinched on Wednesday.

For that reason it is highly commented that coach Pep Guardiola will present a lineup full of novelties, but the mystery will continue until Sunday as long as the coach always gives the list for the home encounters until hours before the kick-off. It isn’t even know who will be the goalkeeper, this as long as it is rumoured that Guardiola wants to protect Victor Valdés, who is the current Zamora at Primera División with 16 goals allowed in 31 matches.

But there’s a key that leads to speculate with the starting formation that will be used in the game: according to paper Sport the goal of Guardiola is administrate the fitness of his men, and for this the plan is to make rotations not allowing any player to perform for more than ninety minutes taking in mind the minutes accumulated between the last game with Levante UD and this one against Depor. This means that key players like Messi, Pique, Valdés, Xavi and Dani Alvés won’t play the game as all of them performed for the full ninety minutes at the Ciutat de Valencia.

To have in mind that attacker Pedro Rodríguez just played four minutes as he entered as a substitute, while midfielder Andrés Iniesta saw the game at the Ciutat de Valencia from the stands, this clearly demonstrates that both men will be starters against Depor. Another key to understand the possible lineup is the fact that on Saturday four players from Barca B were training with the first team: midfielders Oriol Romeu, Jonathan Dos Santos, Thiago Alcantara and defender Marc Bartra.

Taking in mind this hypothesis it is possible to speculate with the possible starting eleven for the game, always a 4-3-3 draw, with the ex-captain of Celta José Manuel Pinto at the goal. The defense is the zone where less rotations are possible as Gabriel Milito and Carles Puyol are still out injured, while Adriano Correia and Eric Abidal are just coming out from their physical problems.

Still, it is possible to build up a defensive line of four men. With Brazilian Daniel Alves as the only man repeating his presence at the starting squad as he would cover the right-back position, then Eric Abidal will have a new chance to still progressing from his past surgery and could perform at the centre of the defense, his partner should be 20-year-old Marc Bartra. He already debuted at Primera during a match against Atlético Madrid. Finally, ex-Inter man Maxwell Andrade will be playing on the left.

At midfield, Mexican Jonathan Dos Santos could have the chance to debut as starter as he has only played for seven minutes on the liga season, while Thiago Alcantara, son of former Celta player Mazinho will continue with his growing process. The 20-year-old kid has received good reviews with his performances and has played 10 games in la liga, even scoring twice. The circuit at midfield will be completed with Iniesta, who has eight goals in 34 liga matches.

The attacking line will be conditioned by Lionel Messi, who has scored 31 goals in liga and that’s targeting the Golden Boot. He could be a starter or rested, but the most probable thing is to see Pedro joined by Bojan Krkic and Jeffren Suárez, it might look like a young combination, but this three players combined have scored nineteen goals on this season. That’s more than the half of Depor’s goals on the tournament. Pedro has scored 13 goals in 32 games, Bojan 5 in 25 appearances and Jeffren 1 in 5 matches.

List of picked players: It will be released until Sunday

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Barcelona: (4-3-3-) Valdés - Alves, Abidal, Bartra, Maxwell – Dos Santos, Thiago, Iniesta - Pedro, Bojan, Jeffren.
Deportivo: (4-3-1-2) Aranzubia – Laure, Colotto, Lopo, Manuel Pablo – Juan Rodríguez, Aythami, Rubén Pérez – Valerón, Riki, Adrián or Lassad.
Referee: Carlos Delgado Ferreiro (18 games on the season, 6 wins for the visiting team).
Kick-off: 21h00 CET (Camp Nou)
Head-to-head Vs. Barcelona: 20 wins for Depor,  15 draws, 46 wins for Barcelona (Primera)
Record at the Camp Nou: 3 wins for Depor,  5 draws, 32 wins for Barcelona (Primera)

ARCHIVE NEWS MAY/11

ZAPPING

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