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REVIEW: HAJDUK SPLIT 0 – DEPORTIVO 2 (UEFA CUP)

28 Aug 2008 -- Deportivo achieved the pass to the first round in UEFA thanks to a clear victory over Hajduk Split. The Galician suffered during the first fifteen minutes, but later the squad found the pace of the game. Riki and Verdú scored the goals during the final moments of each half. Now Deportivo waits for its rival in the draw that will take place on this day.

BEFORE THE GAME
Lotina surprised with the appearance of De Guzmán in the starting line-up. Sergio was left on the bench and the Canadian midfielder played alongside Juan Rodríguez and Antonio Tomás is a triple pivote figure. Up front, Valerón, Guardado and Riki were responsible for the goals. The Gradski stadion u Poljudu had an impressive attendance, a factor that would not affect Deportivo.

FIRST HALF
As Lotina appointed, Hajduk Split pushed strongly during the first minutes searching for the goal. In the second minute the home side had a clear chance as Aranzubia saved with his right leg an attempt of Kalinic. Deportivo balanced the things and at minute 8, Lopo wasted an occasion after he sent out a free-kick taken by Antonio Tomás. The game was emotive but the chances to score weren’t arriving, mostly for the fouls committed by both sides. Hajduk was insisting with long-distance shots and Depor was trying to keep the calm.

The problem at Deportivo was that Valerón had troubles to find the proper connection with Guardado and Riki, his passes weren’t reaching the target and no clear opportunities were created. Meanwhile Hajduk was more dangerous with its direct game, at minute 25 a corner-kick of the home side was saved by Aranzubia after a header of Kalinic. Lopo and Piscu were having a busy day, but they were keeping the calm and their interventions were always opportune.

The first connection between Valerón and Riki occurred until minute 31, it ended with Hajduk’s defensive line sending the ball to a corner-kick. Then the Galicians tried a short play between Guardado and Antonio Tomás, but the final cross couldn’t be reached by Juan Rodríguez, later the shot of Riki went over the crossbar.

At minute 36 Guardado sent the ball to the box as he took a free-kick, Hajduk’s defenders couldn’t clear the ball, but in the end, Subasic contained the ball. In the next play, Ticinovic tested from mid-distance, but the ball went over the crossbar. Depor was playing with more confidence at this point and the Galician players were enjoying of the ball possession, but no clear occasions were created. It was until minute 38 when Depor was close to score. Antonio Tomás took a new free-kick, but his cross didn’t find Juan Rodríguez inside the box.

At minute Riki wasted the first big chance for him after he sent out a new free-kick of Antonio Tomás. Now the Galicians were clearly dominating the actions and the goal seemed close. And it wasn’t like that because the same Riki scored the goal just three minutes before halftime. It was an impressive play made by the whole squad, first Guardado passed the ball to Valerón and then El Flaco sent a sensational pass to Filipe who entered into the box by the left side, then the Brazilian drilled the ball between the legs of the keeper and Riki arrived just to push the ball in.

It was just what Depor needed, a goal to silence a stadium that was very enthusiastic within the first 43 minutes, Hadjuk tried to reach the equaliser before halftime but Lopo cleared the danger in the last play of the first half. The key for the Galicians was Valerón, Depor struggled during the first minutes because the Canarian playmaker was out of the game, but as soon as he found the pace, Lotina’s side started to play better and it was then when Riki’s goal arrived. Aranzubia was also important with his two saves.

SECOND HALF
The home side started the actions trying to score the two needed goals and for this reason coach Goran Vucevic sent Linic to the pitch. But Hajduk continued with its problems up front and they were only reaching Depor’s area through the aerial game. In the meantime, Depor was trying to reduce the pace of the game.

The first opportunity for the home team came at minute 52, it was a corner-kick in which Aranzubia had some doubts to clear the ball with the hands, in the end the sequence ended with a shot over the bar. One of the better news of the game was that both Laure and Piscu were not affected by the pressure put by the local fans, this two ex-Fabril members were doing a good job, clearing the ball when the squad needed it and showing a surprising maturity.

Then Lotina made the first modification, he replaced Valerón with Joan Verdú, an attempt that was trying to put more pause in midfield. Things became more favourable for Deportivo after the Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi sent out Andric after he fouled Depor’s keeper Aranzubia inside the box. The Croatian player was booked previously for protesting and the home side was now forced to search the comeback with just ten men on the pitch.

Adrián Lopez ‘Piscu’ has to leave the game at minute 67 after he was facing some physical problems. His place was taken by Zé Castro. One minute after the modification, Depor was close to score its second goal, but Riki failed to complete the play after keeper Subasic cleared the ball to corner-kick. The Galicians were now having more space and more clear occasions. At minute 72 Lopo was close to score, again after he found a free-kick of Antonio Tomás inside the box. The ball was stopped by Subasic. And the third choice for Depor within five minutes came after Juan Rodríguez sent a cross that Guardado sent near to the left post.

Hajduk seemed defeated and Deportivo was taking advantage of the momentum, but the second goal wasn’t arriving. The final fifteen minutes were the most pleasant moments for the Galicians, Lotina’s side was reaching the rival’s area without any problem while the ‘Torcida’ continued to cheer its team, but without the same intensity of the first half. Mista replaced Riki for the final eight minutes, but it was Joan Verdú who scored the deserved second goal after he take a penalty caused by a foul of Maloca over the Catalan midfielder.

The bad news of the game was that De Guzmán was sent off in the final minute after he picked his second yellow card of the match in a foul over Skoko, As result of this play, Marijan Buljat took a free-kick that Ibricic headed inside the box, but Aranzubia was able to clear the danger with the chest. This was the last action of the match.

AFTER THE GAME
Deportivo made a good game and achieved a 2-0 win in a complicate stadium. The Galicians suffered the most during the first fifteen minutes, but then the Galicians started to win confidence and scored the two goals during the final minutes of both halves. Piscu and Laure made a good match as they never seemed nervous. Aranzubia was also a key factor with his important three saves. Now Depor waits for the draw that will take place today in order to know the rival to be faced in the first round.

MATCH STATISTICS
Hajduk Split: Subasic - Buljat, Zivkovic, Maloca, Gabric – Andric, Skoko, Linic, Ticinovic (Ibricic 56’) – Kalinic, Bartolovic (Oremus 75’).
Deportivo: Aranzubia – Laure, Lopo, Piscu (Ze Castro 67’), Filipe – Antonio Tomas De Guzmán – Juan Rodríguez, Valerón (Verdú 61’), Guardado – Riki (Mista 82’).
Goals: 0-1: (42’) Riki, 0-2: (87’) Verdú (penalty).
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA). He showed yellow card to Laure (11’), Maloca (34’) and Jurica Buljat (39’). Andric (65’) and De Guzmán (89’) were sent off.
Venue: The Gradski stadion u Poljudu (35,000).

PREVIEW: HAJDUK SPLIT – DEPORTIVO (UEFA CUP)

27 Aug 2008 -- First final of the season 2008/2009 for Deportivo. The Galicians visit the Gradski stadion u Poljudu with the necessity to score goals in order to break the scoreless draw of the first-leg. Lotina will trust in a 4-2-3-1 formation tough he has the casualties of Manuel Pablo, Pablo Amo, Lafita and Xisco. In Hajduk, all the eyes are over Nikola Kalinic, the top-scorer in the Croatian league.

The 0-0 of the first game is forcing Deportivo to score goals in order to reach the first round in UEFA. A new scoreless draw will lead to extra-times and penalties, while a draw with goals will give the pass to the Galicians. It’s the second time in which Deportivo visits Croatia playing for European competitions, the previous case occurred in 2005 when Caparrós’ squad visited Slaven Belupa for the Intertoto cup, the Galicians won that game (3-0). Curiously Hajduk is coming to this encounter after defeating the same rival in the local league (3-1).

DEPORTIVO: RETURNING TO THE 4-2-3-1
For the first time in seven months, coach Miguel Ángel Lotina is ready to replace his scheme with five defenders during an official game. The Basque trainer knows that his team needs goals in order to achieve the pass and that’s why he’s trying to recuperate the ‘old’ 4-2-3-1 figure, the central figure this time will be Juan Carlos Valerón who will perform as the lonely playmaker in the formation.

But the biggest problems for Lotina are the casualties due to the injuries. And it’s that he’s missing four key players for this encounter: Xisco (hamstring strain), Ángel Lafita (Appendicitis), Pablo Amo (Achilles) and Manuel Pablo (toe cyst). The main difficulties occur in defence since Barragán is also out until December meaning that youngsters Laure and Piscu will have to play. The defensive zone will be completed with Aranzubia on Depor’s goal, Filipe on the left-back position and Lopo playing alongside Piscu on the centre.

Other worry for Lotina comes in midfield, De Guzmán seems unfit for this game and Lotina has proved Antonio Tomás for this sector as the partner of Sergio. However the Canadian was called for the match and could be an alternative in the starting eleven. The right wing seems reserved this time for Juan Rodríguez, the Andalusian will perform as a ‘false‘ pivote. The offensive efforts will be on the side of Andrés Guardado, Riki and Valerón. The Mexican will play on the left wing and the Madrilenian will be the striker on the formation.

Before the trip to Croatia, coach Miguel Ángel Lotina was sending a clear message about the meaning of this match “These are the games you need in order to show that you are a football player, for its meaning, for the things we are playing for, therefore I am not worried about the fans in the stadium. This is football, the greater environment, the better. This is a competition in which if you pass, great. If not, you screw even with my… nobody should think any elimination has a positive conclusion. Because it doesn’t. We must think about continuing in the competition.”

About the rival, the Meñaka-born trainer thinks it will play with a more offensive approach “I don’t think they will use the same strategy implemented on here. Neither have I thought they will play so offensively as they do in their league, what I already know is that this is going to be a very different game, that’s for sure. However I am waiting to see an offensive team, they will go out trying to score a quick goal pulled by the public.”

HAJDUK SPLIT: TRUSTING IN TORCIDA AND KALINIC
The Croatian side is hoping that the environment at the Gradski stadion u Poljudu will be a decisive factor in this eliminatory. The local fans, known as ‘Torcida’, are one of the oldest and more enthusiastic groups of fans in Europe and they will surely put a lot of pressure during the encounter. Besides, Hajduk has always been a tough rival to beat in its own stadium.

However, there’s an interesting statistic: Hajduk has never eliminated a Spanish side during a European competition. So far the Croatians have faced four Spanish teams in the past and they never achieved the qualification: Valencia (1971/1972, eliminated by away goals), Atlético Madrid (1976/1977, 1-3 aggregate score), Valencia (1981/1982, 5-6 aggregate score) and Mallorca (2001/2002, 1-2 aggregate score)

For this game, coach Goran Vucevic is breathing more calmly now after his team achieved a 3-1 win over Slaven Belupa during the last weekend, his job was in danger after the poor results in the start of the season but now everything seems to be fine. On the pitch all the eyes will be over Nikola Kalinić, a 20-year-old striker that’s the current best scorer in the Prva HNL league with a tally of five goals. Croatia’s manager Slaven Bilić has even described him as "the future of Croatian football.”

Other of the hopes for the Croatian side is midfielder Mario Ticinovic, player that’s the youngest one to have a professional contract with Hajduk after he signed at the age of 17. In order to face Deportivo, Vucevic has the casualty of Goran Rubil, who is suspended after picking a third yellow card in the first-leg with Deportivo, while defender Jurica Buljat is doubtful for injury reasons.

Before the match, Vucevic assured that his team would be more offensive compared to the match played at the Riazor. “I expect a similar game to the one played in Spain. However it seems that Deportivo will slightly change its line-up, it seems they will use a 4-2-3-1 now. What should be different is our approach, because we will play more offensively.”

PROBABLE LINEUPS
Hajduk Split: Subasic – Jurica Buljat, Maloca, Zivkovic, Gabric - Andric, Skoko, Oremus, Ibricic – Ticinovic, Kalinic.
Deportivo: Aranzubia - Laure, Lopo, Piscu, Filipe Luis - Sergio, Antonio Tomás - Juan Rodríguez, Valerón, Guardado - Riki.
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (ITA).
Venue: the Gradski stadion u Poljudu.

Q&A WITH ARANZUBIA

27 Aug 2008 -- Daniel Aranzubia is ready to defend Depor’s goal during the complicate game in Croatia. The Basque goalkeeper talked with newspaper La Opinión A Coruña and analysed the game and also the new season ahead of Deportivo.

Q: To be attending to this match without conceding a goal in the first game gives you a little advantage.
A: Yes. Today, football is very equal and any team can eliminate anyone, but the Spanish league is stronger than the Croatian. In theory, Deportivo is best team than Hajduk, although this must be demonstrated on the pitch.

Q: Did you think that Hajduk would be an easier rival to beat?
A: No. We all knew it was going to be a serious and strong team. What we did not expect was they would come out to the Riazor trying to reach the 0-0 so blatantly. We thought they would try to reach our goal, but they spent all the game stuck in their zone and they didn’t give us too many options.

Q: Would be a failure to be eliminated in this round?
A: It would be hard for everyone, but in football there is no time to feel sorry. On Sunday we have another match that we must face in the best possible way.

Q: Do you think there’s enough squad to fight with guarantees in the three competitions?
A: Any footballer wants to play all the possible games and the more competition the better it is. Time will tell if our current squad is enough or not.

Q: Did you feel better feelings during the Teresa Herrera than during the tour in Venezuela?
A: In the pre-season what you try to do is to get the physical tone and later to reach the start of season in the best possible way. I need to be in good shape in order to help the team in any way I can.

Q: Is your responsibility bigger since you are a specific request from Lotina?
A: The coach trusts in me and somehow I feel compelled to respond. This has just started. Often the sensations that we can feel certainly do not coincide with the performance, and especially in the position of goalkeeper. No matter how good you are, you do not decide when you will play or how. There are times in which the things end well and others in which they don’t, despite the fact that you're always prepared in a physical level.

THE LAST DAYS OF THE SUMMER MARKET

27 Aug 2008 -- The transfer window closes its doors on Monday –the period was extended in one day- and Deportivo, like almost all the clubs in Spain, is trying to hurry up the negotiations, especially the exits. Aouate, Munúa, Manu, Taborda, Bodipo and Jairo are still waiting for novelties while Rodri is already in Portugal in order to join Maritimo. Meanwhile it seems that Depor still interested in Diego Colotto.

One hundred twenty hours to close the summer market and the Spanish clubs still trying to hurry up the negotiations. The period for the inscriptions was extended until Monday 1st September since matchday one will be played on Sunday 31st August. Deportivo has almost completed its squad and it seems the only arrival still to be negotiated is the one of a central defender.

Despite that coach Lotina discarded on the past week the arrival of a new player, the rumours continue to flow. On Wednesday the names of Argentineans Diego Colotto (27) and Carlos Matheu (23) were linked once again with Depor tough this last one was near to sign for Cagliari Calcio in a deal valued in $3 million (€2.04 million). The arrival of a new central defender wasn’t considered as a priority by Lotina, especially taking in mind that Pablo Amo will probably stay at Depor, but in the end it seems the club will try to complete this move.

But all the efforts of the club’s officials seem to be focused in one thing: to assure the exit of the players discarded by Lotina. On Wednesday the club secured the loan deal with Marítimo Funchal for the Catalan defender Rodri. The ex-Barcelona will play there during one season and will have the chance to play the UEFA cup. Meanwhile, other six men are currently pushing for an exit: Aouate, Munúa, Manu, Taborda, Bodipo and Jairo.

Goalkeepers Aouate, Munúa and Manu are still waiting for novelties. Munúa was linked with a move to Rayo Vallecano in Segunda División, but the option was already discarded as the Madrilenian club already signed other Uruguayan: Fabián Carini. Meanwhile Aouate has been linked with French side Lille OSC tough no offers have arrived to Plaza de Pontevedra. Meanwhile Jairo and Bodipo haven’t received any proposition.

Sebastián Taborda has been linked with Boca Juniors, the Argentinean club is facing the long-term casualty of Martín Palermo and it seems that Taborda has been offered as a solution. However coach Carlos Ischia is studying other names for the job: Héctor Bracamonte, Lucho Figueroa, Nicolás Frutos, Mariano Pavone and ‘Tecla’ Farías.

Finally, Sportpaper Marca informs that goalkeeper Fabricio Augusto has signed a new contract with Deportivo, his previous deal was an amateur contract ending in 2009, Real Zaragoza was interested in him and Lendoiro was trying to complete the deal before the end of the summer market. Now the Canarian keeper has a professional contract that will last until the year 2011.

THINKING OF HADJUK SPLIT

26 Aug 2008 -- Lotina will return to the 4-2-3-1 formation searching for the pass to the next round in UEFA. That’s something confirmed by the same coach. For the trip to Croatia, the Basque trainer has called twenty players including three keepers. The novelty is the absence of Xisco due to a hamstring strain.

Deportivo needs to clinch a positive result at the Gradski stadion u Poljudu in order to advance in the UEFA competition. To accomplish the mission the Galician squad needs to score goals. That’s why Lotina is changing the line-up into a 4-2-3-1 figure, something the same coach confirmed after Tuesday’s training “Yes, we will surely play with a line of four defenders. The tests we have made so far are really important, but not definitive.”

The coach said this because he has made some modifications in the last trainings, on Monday the squad was playing with Zé Castro and Albert Lopo for the centre of the defence, but by Tuesday the Portuguese was replaced by Adrián López ‘Piscu’, meaning the youngster has big chances to start the game. What’s clear is that Dani Aranzubia will be the goalkeeper of the squad, while Laure will perform as the right-back and Filipe will cover the left side.

In midfield Sergio and De Guzmán have chances to start although Antonio Tomás was tested as the partner of the Catalan during Tuesday’s training. One of the modifications for this encounter is to put Juan Rodríguez on the pitch performing as a right winger, function the Andalusian already fulfilled in the past. This means that Deportivo will play with a ‘false’ triple pivote figure on the pitch.

Other thing that seems clear is that the trio Valerón-Riki-Guardado will be responsible for the goals, Xisco was left out of the game since he’s suffering a hamstring strain, therefore Riki is appointed to lead the attacks of Deportivo. The list of called players also includes Manu as a third keeper. An absentee for the game is Ángel Lafita, player that was operated from Appendicitis a couple of weeks ago, but the good news is that the Aragonian winger will probably be available for the liga debut with Real Madrid.

List of called players (20): Aranzubía, Fabricio, Manu (goalkeepers); Laure, Lopo, Ze Castro, Adrián López, Filipe (defenders); De Guzman, Sergio, Juan Rodríguez, Antonio Tomás, Verdú, Cristian, Pablo Álvarez, Valerón, Guardado (midfielders); Mista, Riki and Omar Bravo (strikers).

After Tuesday’s training ended, Andrés Guardado talked at Abegondo’s press room about this important challenge “We are leaving clear the message in the changing room. Thursday’s match is very important for the things we are playing. Being so close to the group phase in UEFA, we don’t want to miss that opportunity. All the players coming from other clubs, from other countries, were dreaming to be playing someday the UEFA or the Champions League and little by little, we are fulfilling our goals. We all know the importance of this kind of matches. It gives you maturity and projection.”

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