Squad news

PREVIEW: ATHLETIC – DEPORTIVO (LIGA)

02 Mar 2016
A Deportivo surrounded by doubts and making rotations face one of the best teams in la liga. Víctor could be returning to the 4-4-2.

STATISTICS: THE WORST TEAM IN 2016
Deportivo are already the worst Primera team in 2016; after chaining two straight losses, and ten games without a victory, the Galicians have only added 5 points in the 9 games disputed in 2016, it’s the worst mark at Primera División. Meanwhile, Athletic Club have been slowly improving and the 11 points added in the new year allow them to be 7th, caressing a new participation in the Europa League.

Another negative stat that appeared in 2016 is the lack of clean sheets, in the 11 official games disputed by Depor in 2016 (9 in liga and 2 in Copa Del Rey), the Galicians have always allowed at least one goal. The last clean sheet achieved was during the visit to Getafe in the closing game of 2015 (0-0)

The good thing for Deportivo is that Los Blanquiazules have only lost one of the last twelve meetings against Athletic, that defeat occurred in the visit to the old San Mamés for the season 2009/10 (2-0). The first visit to the new San Mamés took place on last season and ended in with an agonic 1-1 draw.

DEPORTIVO: “KEEP CALM AND…”
The infamous streak that’s hitting Deportivo in 2016 is ruining a solid start to the season, after been one of the sensations in la liga, now Depor see how the relegation zone is approaching and the fans are getting nervous. No one has a clear explanation why this is happening, but inside the team the speech is always the same: “We must remain calm.”

It’s the same phrase repeated every time the coach or a player talks to the media, for example what one of the captains, Álex Bergantiños, said on Monday after the defeat against Granada CF, ”"We must remain calm and remember who we are, to think that the only goal is the permanence. We must be cold-minded and erase the doubts, because it won’t help us to win in Bilbao. Everything we have done, good or bad, won’t help us to add the three points, only to be united and supporting each other.”

Calm or not, the true is that Depor face a tricky situation in March with three straight games against rivals that are having a solid start to 2016. Besides, for the visit to Athletic, coach Victor Sánchez is having two key absentees as Sidnei remains injured, while German Lux is suspended after been sent off against Granada CF.

Apart from the casualties, the coach announced changes as the team is playing three games in a matter of six days. It’s hard to predict a lineup for Wednesday’s game as Víctor didn’t test any draw between Monday and Tuesday, but it’s probable that he will return to the 4-4-.2.

The only clear thing is that Stipe Pletikosa will make his debut at Deportivo. It’s his first game in nine months (the last one was on May 30, 2015). The 37-year-old keeper addressed the media on Tuesday and said that he’s ready, “First to all, I feel pretty good and positive, I am fine for tomorrow’s game. As I said, I’m ready and am confident. I don’t know if I will play, he [Víctor] will tell us the lineup tomorrow, but I’m ready. We are ready to get a positive result.”

With Pletikosa at the goal, Juanfran Moreno will stay on the right side of the defence, Albert Lopo should enter the formation in order to join Alejandro Arribas at the central positions. Navarro could be one of the rested players, something that opens a spot for Luisinho at the left.

Celso Borges and Pedro Mosquera should be playing at midfield, Fede Cartabia has big chances of entering performing on the right wing, same thing than Jonás Gutiérrez on the left, then Luis Alberto and Lucas Pérez are the centre forwards.

 Juan Dominguez, Fabricio and Cani are the other players at the injury room. The roster includes the presence of right-back Manuel Pablo and Fabril’s goalie David Gómez. The only player out for tactical reasons is striker Jonathan Rodríguez.

List of picked players (19): Manu, Pletikosa (goalkeepers); David Gómez; Manuel Pablo, Laure, Lopo, Arribas, Juanfran, Navarro (defenders); Álex Bergantiños, Celso Borges, Mosquera, Cartabia, Luisinho, Jonás Gutiérrez, Fayçal Fajr (midfielders); Oriol Riera, Lucas Pérez & Luis Alberto (attackers)

ATHLETIC: PRESENT AND FUTURE
It has been a positive season for Athletic Club and coach Ernesto Valverde, the Basques have decently competed in all competitions, currently been 7th in la liga, advancing in Copa until facing FC Barcelona and ready to face the quarterfinals in the UEFA Europa League. And two names have been calling the attention: veteran Aritz Aduriz and young Iñaki Williams.

Aduriz is already 35, but his 14 goals in liga have moved several journalists to ask for his return to Spain’s national squad ahead of the UEFA Euro. He, together with Lucas Pérez, are the second best Spanish scorers at Primera, just behind Eibar’s Borja Bastón (16). The Basque man, representative of the past and present of the club, is also the best scorer in the UEFA Europa League (7).

Then 21-year-old Williams is growing fast, in his second year at the first team he is already an important player in attack after scoring 7 goals in 17 league games. But he will miss the game against Depor after picking an ankle sprain on last week, injury that will keep him sidelined between four and six weeks.

Still, another representative of the future at the club will replace him: Iker Muniain. The 23-year-old winger hasn’t played too much within the last year due to a serious knee injury, he has only played ten times on the league season but is coming from scoring his first goal of the campaign in the visit to Valencia CF (0-3).

It’s expected that Valverde will present the normal 4-2-3-1 lineup despite some men are dragging issues (San José & Aduriz), with Gorka Iraizoz covering the goal, Óscar de Marcos performs at the right side in defence, Mikel Balenziaga plays at the left side, while the centre backs are Aymeric Laporte and Xabier Etxeita.

Beñat Etxebarria and Mikel San José are the centre midfielders, Markel Susaeta attacks from the right wing, Muniain does it from the left, Raúl García returns from suspension and performs as the playmaker, while Aduriz is the centre forward.

List of picked players (18): Iraizoz, Iago Herrerín (goalkeepers); Elustondo, Laporte, San José, Etxeita, Balenziaga, Lekue (defenders); Beñat, De Marcos, Susaeta, Mikel Rico, Gurpegi, Muniain, Raúl García (midfielders); Aduriz, Viguera & Sabin Merino (attackers).

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Athletic: (4-2-3-1) Iraizoz – De Marcos, Etxeita, Laporte, Balenziaga – Beñat, San José – Susaeta, Raúl García, Muniain - Aduriz
Deportivo: (4-4-2) Pletikosa – Juanfran, Lopo, Arribas, Luisinho – Cartabia, Borges, Mosquera, Jonás  - Luis Alberto, Lucas.
Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz.
Kick-off: 20h00 CET (San Mamés)
Head-to-head Vs. Athletic: 34 wins for Depor, 26 draws, 27 wins for Athletic (Primera)
Record at San Mamés: 10 wins for Depor, 13 draws, 20 wins for Athletic (Primera)

ARCHIVE NEWS MAR/16

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