Squad news


13 Dec 2011
The favourite for the promotion at Segunda faces the revelation at Primera; total facelift at both teams, both coaches are preparing a large number of changes, actually it’s expected that they will present different teams to the ones saw in liga.

It might not be a surprise to see Deportivo among the first three positions at Segunda División, but it’s quite astonishing to realize that Levante is among the four first places at Primera. Both teams standout for its offensive line; Depor is the second best scorer at Segunda with 28 goals in favour, just one less than RC Celta; while Levante is the third best scorer at Primera with 24 goals scored, which is the half of the 50 goals scored so far by the giants Real Madrid & Barcelona.

This is the first time in almost twenty years in which a Deportivo at Segunda División faces a Primera team playing for Copa Del Rey; the last time this situation occurred was in February of 1991 as the Galicians were eliminated by Valencia CF in the sixth round of the competition (aggregate 2-7).

It’s the fifth time in which Depor faces UD Levante playing for Copa Del Rey; the good thing is that the Galicians have won three of the four previous series; the first meeting took place in the first round of the season 1932/33 as Depor passed the test with a 7-4 aggregate score, which included a 7-1 win at the Riazor; this result is the 6th largest victory for Deportivo in the history of the Spanish Copa.

Then, both teams collided again for the season 1960/61, again for the first round in the competition and again Depor qualified, this time with a 6-4 aggregate score. Two seasons later Depor met Levante for the second round in Copa, this time the Valencians achieved the pass and it was a tough series, because each side won one of the legs with a 1-0 score, and it was necessary a third game that was played in Madrid and that was won by Levante (3-1).

And the last meeting between these two clubs playing in Copa Del Rey took place on the season 1990/91; Levante won the first-leg with a narrow 2-1 score, and Depor decided the things at the Riazor with a convincing 5-1 victory.

Coach José Luis Oltra has repeated the starting lineup in the last three liga encounters, but this is going to change for Copa Del Rey as the Valencian coach is open to give an opportunity to the “substitutes”. In this sense Depor will present a complete different team compared to the one that defeated CD Numancia on Saturday.

In this sense the list of picked players is full of novelties, as normal starters like left-back Ayoze Diaz, centre midfielders Álex Bergantińos, Juan Dominguez, and left winger Andrés Guardado are out of the clash. It calls the attention that central defender Ze Castro is also rested, which indicates that the Portuguese is now considered as a starter by Oltra. The other player rested is Bruno Gama, while the only two players at the injury room are attacker Xisco and left-back Claudio Morel.

Perhaps the biggest novelty is the presence of Juan Carlos Leal, the only Fabril’s player picked for the match; the Galician playmaker hasn’t debuted yet in liga, but he already took part of the previous rounds in Copa and is the top-scorer at Depor B with nine goals scored in thirteen Tercera matches, plus giving five assists.

In the end Oltra –who only confirmed seven changes- will probably end up making eleven modifications to the starting team of the past Saturday, Argentine German Lux returns in order to defend the goal; Manuel Pablo will have a chance after been on the bench as the veteran will perform on the right-back position, Diego Seoane will play on the left side, while the central defender will be Aythami Artiles and David Rochela.

At midfield, Borja Fernandez will get his first chance as a starter and will play alongside Jesús Vázquez, a combination of experience in order to control the traffic of the ball. The main doubt is who will perform on the playmaking function, Oltra could opt in the youth of Juan Carlos or the experience of Pablo Álvarez, all since Valerón will be on the bench.

Saul Fernandez will cover the right wing, while Diogo Salomăo, who didn’t play any minute against Numancia, will attack from the left flank. Another doubt is located at the centre of the attack, Riki needs minutes in order to gain pace, but Oltra could opt in giving a chance to Rodolfo Bodipo, this since the Madrilenian has had muscular problems in this first part of the season.

List of picked players (18): Aranzubia, Lux (midfielders); Laure, Manuel Pablo, Colotto, Rochela, Aythami, Seoane (defenders); Borja Fernández, Jesús Vázquez, Juan Carlos, Valerón, Saúl, Salomăo, Pablo Álvarez (midfielders); Riki, Bodipo and Lassad (strikers).

The Spanish football still in shock with the solid performance of Levante UD during this season; this Valencian team never passed from the tenth place  in its previous seven appearances at Primera División, and now it’s lying at the fourth position after fifteen matchdays.  A surprising fact taking in mind the club only invested 400,000 Euros during the summer window and as it hired a coach, Juan Ignacio Martínez, that was debuting at Primera División.

Clearly the main factor that explains this solid performance is the experience at the team, and it’s that the first team is full of old foxes, because 12 of the 24 players at the first squad already passed the mark of the 30’s; actually, on last Saturday, Levante broke a record at Primera División as it presented the oldest starting team in the history of the league, with an average age of 32 years and 86 days.

However, the average age of the starting team that’s facing Deportivo will suffer a radical decrease as coach Martinez will only have two players above the 30’s, this since he is planning to rest the full squad that defeated Sevilla FC on Saturday (1-0). He is even planning to use two players from Levante B.

It’s a 4-2-3-1 scheme; Costa Rican goalkeeper Kelyor Navas will make his official debut with Levante at the Riazor, ex-Valladolid Pedro López will perform at the right-back position, Iván López Mendoza, one of Levante B players in the match, will perform on the left sector, while the central positions at defense will be for Héctor Rodas and Argentine Gustavo Cabaral. To mention that Rodas is a product of Levante B promoted three years ago to the first team.
At midfield, Valencian Miguel Pallardó and Vicente Iborra will play at the pivote functions, this last player lost a recent-born baby girl during the past week due to a disease. Moroccan Nabil El Zhar will attack from the right wing, Roger Marti, who is the top-scorer at Levante B with thirteen goals at Tercera División, will do it from the left flank.

Finally, the experience will be provided by Rubén Suárez and Carlos Aranda; both are the two players above the 30’s at the team; the first has scored four goals in the Primera season and will be the link between midfield and attack, while Aranda is the former attacker of Albacete and Osasuna that still scoreless on the season.

Keylor Navas talked before the match as he was quite happy for been making his debut, ”I’m thankful with God, because I have worked hard in order to gain this chance. We are facing Depor, which is a great team; it won’t be an easy rival, though we will love to pass the round.”

List of picked players (18): Munúa, Keylor Navas (goalkeepers); Nano, Rodas, Juanfran, Pedro López, Cabral, Iván (defenders); Pallardó, Iborra, Xavi Torres, Juanlu, Rubén, Valdo, El Zhar (midfielders);  Koné, Aranda and Roger (strikers).

Deportivo: (4-2-3-1) Lux – Manuel Pablo, Rochela, Aythami, Seoane – Jesús Vázquez, Borja – Saúl, Juan Carlos or Pablo Álvarez, Salomăo – Riki.
Levante: (4-2-3-1) Kelyor Navas - Pedro López, Rodas, Cabral, Iván -, Pallardó, Iborra - El Zhar, Rubén Suárez, Roger -  Aranda.
Referee: Javier Estrada Fernández
Kick-off: 21h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs Levante: 3 wins for Depor, 2 draws, 4 wins for Levante (Copa Del Rey)
Record at the Riazor: 3 wins for Depor, 1 draw, 0 wins for Levante (Copa Del Rey)



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