Squad news


18 May 2011
On Sunday Deportivo is hosting Valencia CF at the last matchday of the liga season; a crucial meeting for the permanence. But it already happened 17 years later, though in that opportunity the goal was totally different: the liga title.

Déjŕ vu at the Riazor; Valencia CF visits La Coruńa on Sunday as part of matchday 38 at Primera División; Los Ches already clinched the third place at the standings, but for Deportivo it is the most important game since the semifinals in Champions League against Porto FC, because for the first time in 19 years the Galicians are close to end at Segunda División.

It is a Déjŕ vu experience for Deportivo, because something similar occurred seventeen years ago; at the time –season 1993/94- the Deportivo of Arsenio Iglesias was astonishing the world as it was commanding the Spanish la liga since matchday 14. At matchday 37 the Galicians had a one-point advantage over Barcelona FC, while Real Madrid was third, ten points behind the Super Depor.

Matchday 38 was presenting the visit of Valencia CF to the Riazor, while the Catalans were hosting Sevilla CF. As it’s happening right now, Depor knew that in order to clinch its goal it needed to win the last game on the season, and any other result would have meant to depend on others. To mention that on that campaign both Sevilla and Valencia were fighting for a ticket in the UEFA Cup, but by the last game the Valencians were already out of the race: the Andalusians were 5th three points above Valencia (42-39), while Athletic Bilbao was sixth (41).

That game was played on May 14th, 1994; during that week it was highly rumoured that Barcelona was offering a big reward to Valencia’s players in order to avoid the victory of Deportivo. And the rewards were later confirmed by the same players of Valencia: three million pesetas to each player for the win (€18,030) and two million to each one for the draw (€12,020).

The game was tense, with Deportivo’s players constantly informed about the goals of Barcelona at the Camp Nou (5-2 over Sevilla). At the time coach Arsenio Iglesias had Bebeto at his team, the Brazilian was the Pichichi with 16 goals in 33 matches, Donato, who at times performed as a midfielder, was the second best scorer with ten goals in 35 games. Claudio Barragán was third in the list with nine goals in 31 liga meetings. The first two were part of the starting eleven, while Claudio didn’t take part of the game.

But the Deportivo of Arsenio Iglesias was better known for its solid defense, actually on that season the team only allowed 18 goals, which still a record for a season with 38 matches. In the other hand the Galicians had only scored 54 goals, which were almost the half of the 91 scored by Barcelona. So, it was a case of a team with a solid defense, but with a soft offense.

Thus it wasn’t a surprise to see that Depor had big problems to break the deadlock of Valencia, after all the Galicians had achieved ten goalless games in the previous 37 matchdays. Valencia was even closer to score as it hit the posts twice. But suddenly a light at the end of the tunnel appeared at the last minute of the game as defender José Pérez Serer committed a clear penalty over Bebeto.

Bebeto and Donato were the players that normally were throwing the penalties, but on that season they have already failed once, so they refused to take it this time. Then, defender Miroslav Đukić decided to do it. It was the wrong call, because the drilling shot of the Serbian man was too weak and besides it went to the centre of the goal, so it was an easy save for visiting goalie José Luis Gonzáles, who was later criticized for the way in which he celebrated his save. Meanwhile, the Riazor was a tomb, Deportivo had lost a liga title.

A few years ago, Miroslav Đukić confessed to reporters that the play was still tormenting him, ”It was the saddest day in my life as a player, and that play, that picture, that moment, chased me for a long time. It was like an obsession. One day I decided that I can no longer be thinking of that cursed moment, because I didn’t want to go mad. And when Depor won la liga a few years later I thought: God exists. They deserved it, now I am in peace.”

Seventeen year later all the players that took part of the game are already retired, also Arsenio Iglesias. Curiously, the only person that still active is the less mentioned name: Guus Hiddink. At the time he was the coach of Valencia and currently is the coach of Turkey’s national team.

But this Saturday there will be two actors of this game at the grass of the Riazor. The first one is José Luis Ribera, who is now the assistant of Lotina at Deportivo; and the other is his former partner at defense, Salvador González Marco ‘Boro’, who is now the field delegate at Valencia.

Date: 14/May/1994.
Deportivo: Liańo - Boro, Ribera, Djukic, Donato (Alfredo 74') - Lopez Recarte, Nando Martinez, Mauro Silva, Manjarín – Fran - Bebeto. Coach: Arsenio Iglesias.
Valencia: José Luis Gonzáles - Quique Sánchez Flores, José Serrer, Camarasa, Giner - Mendieta, Arroyo, Mijatovic (Tomás G. 84'), José Gálvez (Diego Ribera 78') - Fernando Gómez, Álvaro. Coach: Guus Hiddink.
Referee: Antonio Jesús Lopez Nieto. He showed yellow card to Boro, Donato and Mendieta. Alvaro was sent off (87').
Venue: Riazor (34,000)



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