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THE RIVALRY AGAINST VALENCIA

18 May 2011
The rivalry against Valencia only exists since 1994, but all kind of things have occurred within the last 17 years: missed penalties, red cards, polemic goals, aggressions, and even two suspended matches.

Football is full of rivalries that feed the hopes and dreams of the fans around the world, and the rich history of Spanish football is full of these stories. From the high-rated games by the media between Barcelona FC and Real Madrid, to the regional derbies like the Madrilenian derby (Atletico-Real), the Catalan derby (Barca- Espanyol), the Basque derby (Athletic-Real Sociedad), the Andalusian derby (Betis-Sevilla) or even the Galician derby (Depor-Celta).

But within the last two decades few rivalries have been so controversial as the confrontations between Deportivo La Coruña and Valencia FC. Before 1994, both teams had coincided many times at Primera División and nothing special occurred. But there was a drastic chance for the season 1993/94; Depor was the leader of la liga during big part of the liga tournament and it only needed one more win in the last matchday of the season to clinch its first title in Spain.

Destiny wanted that Valencia FC was going to be the rival that day (May 14, 1994), and faith was cruel with Deportivo as the Galicians lost the title despite having a last-minute penalty. At the time Depor was on vogue and was a popular team in Spain as everybody saw it as the humble team invited to dinner with the giant clubs. It was even popular in Valencia, but the charm died that day.

Depor’s fans weren’t upset with Valencia for drawing the game, but for two things: to know that they were paid by Barcelona FC (2 million pesetas or €12,020 to each player) and because Valencia’s players celebrated the result at the grass of the Riazor as they were the ones winning the title (that season they don’t even qualified to the UEFA Cup), especially keeper José Luis Gonzáles, who celebrated his saved penalty as it was it the World Cup final

A rivalry was born, one of the biggest and most polemic within the last two decades. On the following season, the Riazor hosted Valencia on   October 23, 1995 and it was hell. The visitors were received with chants of Peseteros! and false bills were thrown to the pitch in a sign of protest for what occurred on the previous campaign. Depor won the game 3-1, with Donato scoring from the penalty spot and with Bebeto scoring twice, just the two players that didn’t want to throw the penalty on the previous occasion.

The match in the second round was also tough (March 31, 1995); Valencia’s fans were upset for the insults in the first round game and the Galician team was received at the airport with hostile signboards and more chants, the police had to escort the team to the hotel and stayed there throughout the whole night. The game also had a curious start as there was a minute of silence at Mestalla before the kick-off, it was a way to protest for the treatment received by Valencia at the Riazor. In the end Depor won the meeting with a 2-1 score.

If this wasn’t’ enough, just three months later both teams were facing each other again as part of the final in Copa Del Rey, it was tense and this time anecdotic, because the game was going to be played on June 24, 1995, but the heavy rain forced to suspend it. The match continued three days later and for that reason it is known as “the final that lasted three days”. In the end Depor won it (2-1) and the Galicians lifted their first official title. Some thought it was a matter of justice.

The polemic continued in the new millennium; on January 13, 2001, Depor was hosting Valencia FC on matchday 18 of the season 2000/01, at the time the Valencians were the leaders at Primera. It was a tough meeting for Depor as the Galicians could only score within the final ten minutes (2-0), but the hardest part was for Djalminha, who was constantly fouled by the visiting players, especially by Albelda. The Brazilian lost the nerves and there was a huge fight at the end, he even fought against his team mate Victor.

On August 18, 2002, Depor and Valencia were playing at the Riazor for the first-leg in the Spanish Supercopa. It was an easy match for Depor as the Galicians won 3-0, but the game is most remembered for Santiago Cañizares, who was insulted and hit by a aluminum paper ball thrown from the stands. The keeper simulated that he suffered a serious injury and the fans at the stadium very angry; he had to be escorted by the police and later hammered the players and the media in La Coruña during a press conference.

The polemic continued for the season 2002/03, Depor was battling against Real Madrid and Real Sociedad for the liga title, the Galician finally reached the first place after a 2-0 win at Malaga on matchday 33, sadly in the next matchday Irureta’s team was hosting Valencia FC  at the Riazor and it ended defeated (1-2). Valencia had a lot of casualties for that meeting, but played a great game, and what everybody remembers was the “ghost goal” of Donato as the Brazilian/Spanish player headed a corner, but the ball never passed the goal line though the referee said otherwise. Depor never recovered from that defeat and ended third at the standings.

The rivalry with Valencia also has a humiliating chapter for the Galicians: a 1-5 loss at the Riazor for the season 2004/05. It was only matchday 04 on the liga tournament (September 22, 2004), but it was the first sign that the glorious years of Deportivo were about to end. The Valencians just needed 52 minutes to score five goals and it’s the last time that Depor has allowed five goals in one single game played at the Riazor.

And there was more fire on the season 2005/06; on September 17, 2005; Valencia was hosting Depor at the Mestalla for matchday 03 in la liga; the game was an interesting 2-2 draw, but it’s more remembered for the nasty plays on the pitch. There were two red cards in the game, one for Baraja for a harsh tackle on Manuel Pablo, and the other was for Pedro Munitis, who was sent off with two yellow cards.

But the most polemic play was an action between Pablo Aimar and Joan Capdevila; both players jumped for the ball and accidentally the elbow of Capdevila hit the face of Aimar, the Argentine was so upset that he spat on Depor’s player. The action was recorded by the TV cameras, but referee Iturralde González never reported the incident and therefore the competition committee never sanctioned the action.

If that wasn’t enough, Depor and Valencia met each other again on that same season as part of the quarterfinals in Copa Del Rey. Depor won the first-leg with a 1-0 score, and was travelling to Mestalla in order to play the second match (January 25, 2006). The Valencians were upset for the way in which the Riazor pushed the referee in the first match and wanted to do the same on this opportunity.

But the pressure went in the wrong direction, minutes before half-time Valencia was leading in the score (1-0) when Marchena was sent off after punching Arizmendi in the face. The public at Mestalla was mad and someone threw a coin that unfortunately hit the face of assistant Vicente Egido Rozas. Then referee Megía Dávila suspended the game. The competition committed fined Valencia with 6,000 Euros and the rest of the game was played behind closed doors. In the end Depor passed the round thanks to a goal of Senel (1-1).

Now, both teams are facing each other and again with something at stake: the permanence of Deportivo at Primera División. For the first time in two decades the Galicians are reaching the last matchday in la liga with the anguish of still trying to avoid the relegation… and faith wanted that the rival is Valencia FC, the friendship/enmity continues.

ARCHIVE NEWS MAY/11

ZAPPING

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