Squad news


18 Jan 2015
Depor end the first round in liga facing one of the biggest challenges relying in its improved defense. Lucas Pérez returns, but new signing Celso Borges isn’t available for the meeting.

Deportivo are about to complete seven years without defeating FC Barcelona. The last win over Los Azulgrana took place at the Riazor during the season 2007/08. It was a 2-0 win with goals scored by Juan Rodríguez and Pablo Amo (April 25, 2008). Since that day the Galicians have faced the Catalans in eight opportunities only adding two draws and suffering six defeats.

During the golden years with Depor playing on the UEFA Champions League the team coached by Javier Irureta managed to control the home games against Barca, to the point of clinching six straight victories (1998-2002), but things have drastically changed lately with the Catalans scoring 12 goals at the Riazor within their last three visits. It’s the higher mark for any team during the period.

Of course all the statistics demonstrate the big differences between Deportivo and FC Barcelona. But there’s one interesting comparison. The Catalans have only conceded nine goals after eighteen matchdays, which is the best record in la liga. Depor, meanwhile, have conceded the triple of that mark (27). But looking to the last eleven games, then there’s only a small difference as Barca conceded seven goals, while Depor allowed only eight. It demonstrates the improvement of the Blanquiazul outfit after the big losses before Real Madrid and Sevilla CF.

The team coached by Víctor Fernández is targeting to end the first round out of relegation, but it might need to add points before one of the power forces in la liga and for this it will need a big contribution from its ascending defense. Depor’s back line had a poor start emphasized by the heavy loss at home facing the other giant in the league, but lately things have been much better, mainly playing at the Riazor.

And it’s that no one has scored more than one goal at the Riazor since the end of October, time when Getafe managed to get the three points with a 1-2 victory. Actually, Depor are dragging a positive mark of 248 minutes without allowing goals at home. The last team to score at the Riazor was Malaga CF during their 0-1 win (December 12).

Depor’s defense is surely the base of the game since some weeks ago and in this opportunity won’t be different, not only for the level of the rival, but also for the important casualties that have been hitting the team in attack.

For the occasion Víctor is relying in the same defensive line that has played three of the last five meetings. Fabricio Agosto protects the goal, Juanfran Moreno covers the right side, Luisinho performs on the left, while the central positions are for Albert Lopo and Sidnei Rechel.

The novelties appear in midfield and in attack as the coach presents a 4-3-3 formation. Haris Medunjanin returns after a month on the bench. He is joined by Álex Bergantiños and Juan Domínguez.

On Friday, Víctor tested the formation for the game without Iván Cavaleiro, but it isn’t probable that the Portuguese will be out of the starting formation. After all, he’s the only men that has participated in all the games on the league season and he has been important within the last two months.

José Rodríguez will continue performing on the right wing, and the final novelty is to see Oriol Riera at the centre of the attack. The Catalan is making his first appearance as a starter after arriving just two weeks ago.

The big news in the roster for the game is the presence of Lucas Pérez. He has been out since October due to a knee concussion and was even close to be operated, but suddenly started to feel better and ended receiving the medical okay to play on Saturday, just when the most optimistic views from the doctors were talking of a return in two weeks. In this way only Hélder Postiga and Luis Fariña remain at the injury room.

Three players are out for tactical reasons: right-back Manuel Pablo, left-back Roberto Canella and playmaker Juan Carlos. Left winger Diogo Salomão has the green light of doctors, but Víctor thinks that the player isn’t mentally prepared to play. Finally new signing Celso Borges isn’t available as the papers of his transfers haven’t arrived yet.

Toché was remembering that CD Numancia was able to beat Barca some years ago, at the time he was part of that team, “There’s a huge difference in the budget and in terms of players, but with Numancia, during the first game with Guardiola, we defeated them with a 1-0 score having worse players. So, we need to fight and try to get something, no matter is a point or three. We must try to do a good work and later try get anything we can.”

Cuenca is coming from the Catalan club. He was explaining what Depor need to do in this match, “We know they are good, but we will try to do our best. We must try to have the ball, finalizing the plays and trying to defeat them.”

Another player that began his career at Barca is Oriol Riera. He was trying to explain how to stop Barcelona, ”Everybody makes that question every weekend and no one finds the answer. Last year, with Osasuna, we got a point and we did it been together on the pitch trying to attack through the counterattack. Barca is not from our league, but we’ll try to give them a hard time.”

Finally, Fabricio explained what Depor need to do in this game, ”We need to be well placed, pressing and not failing with the passes, the movements and the loose balls. I bet that we can win, another thing is that we could be worse or better and later we cannot do it, but what we cannot do is to go out with the mentality that we cannot win. It doesn’t matter the rival, if you go out thinking of losing then you are in disadvantage.”

List of picked players (18): Lux, Fabricio (goalkeepers); Laure, Insua, Lopo, Sidnei, Juanfran, Luisinho (defenders); Álex Bergantiños, Juan Dominguez, José Rodríguez, Medunjanin, Wilk, Lucas Pérez, Cuenca (midfielders); Oriol Riera, Cavaleiro & Toché (attackers)

It has been a positive debuting season for coach Luis Enrique. The team qualified to the next rounds in Champions League and Copa Del Rey without major problems, while the Catalans are only one point below Real Madrid in liga –though with one more game played- However the club has been stormed by a series of internal conflicts that have broken the always tinny peace within Barca.

The club was banned by FIFA for violating the rules regarding transfers of youth players, something that, together with the criticism over the signings of players like Thomas Vermaelen, forced the dismissal of Andoni Zubizarreta as  director of football. Carles Puyol, who was also involved in the club’s organisation, also announced his departure.

Besides, president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the same Luis Enrique are not popular among the fans, which has raised the negative feelings towards the club’s officials. The president announced that the elections will take place at the end of the season after the pressure suffered from the media and the public.

So, the latest 3-1 win over Atlético Madrid was a ray of light for the Catalans. Now they want to continue in their pursuit race over Real Madrid with a new victory at the Riazor. Luis Enrique is ready to repeat the lineup of last week after Neymar is considered fit to play. The Brazilian sustaining an ankle injury in the previous game.

It’s predicted a 4-3-3 lineup, with Chilean Claudio Bravo defending the goal. Brazilian Dani Alvés performs at the right side of the defense, ex-Valencia Jordi Alba covers the left sector, while the central positions are for Argentine Javier Mascherano and Gerard Piqué.

The trio at midfield is composed by Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Croatian Iván Rakitić. Argentine star Lionel Messi attacks from the right wing, Neymar does it from the left and Uruguayan Luis Suárez is the centre forward.

Some people have criticized Messi for an apparent low performance on this season but the true is that the ballon d'or nominated is close to reach double digits marks after scoring 16 goals plus providing 8 assists so far, and this without ending the first round. Neymar is the other important scorer at the team adding 12 goals to his tally plus 3 assists. There were worries with the adaptation of Luis Suárez to Spanish football, but the former Liverpool man is looking better recently and already netted two goals plus having six assists in nine league appearances.

List of picked players: Luis Enrique will release the roster until Sunday (the team is traveling to a Coruña the same day of the match).

Deportivo: (4-3-3) Fabricio – Juanfran, Lopo, Sidnei, Luisinho – Álex Bergantiños, Juan Dominguez, Medunjanin – José Rodríguez, Riera, Cavaleiro.
Barcelona: (4-3-3) Bravo – Alvés, Pique, Mascherano, Alba – Rakitić, Busquets, Iniesta – Messi, Suárez, Neymar.
Referee: Juan Martínez Munuera
Kick-off: 19h00 CET (Riazor)
Head-to-head Vs. Barca: 20 wins for Depor, 16 draws, 48 wins for Barca (Primera)
Record at the Riazor: 17 wins for Depor, 10 draws, 15 wins for Barca (Primera)



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