Unpredictable Atleti meet improving Depor to round off Saturday’s action...
A bright start to the season from Atletico Madrid is now long forgotten as they reside outside the European places in the Primera Division. Los Colchoneros are struggling badly for form and need the boost of a win, but Deportivo La Coruna will certainly offer no presents to the hosts come Saturday night.
Last weekend the capital side arguably hit a new low when they went down 2-0 against Levante. Following this loss were an outpouring of media rumours suggesting clashes between the players and coach Quique Sanchez Flores, though these have been denied.
“We have to accept criticism when things like this happen. The coach is very experienced, and we listen to him,” Diego Forlan told the press. “There are things that appear in the press, but the relationship with the coach is as strong as ever, and this has not changed.
“In the league, we still have options. Sometimes, the fans do not have patience but this is understandable. Most of us have been through this. We must be calm.”
Only twice over the course of their last seven top flight matches have Atletico claimed maximum points, and to make a difficult situation even more awkward, they lost embarrassingly to Aris in the Europa League last week, keeping their progression in that competition in doubt.
The excitement of two back-to-back 3-2 losses at the Vicente Calderon is unlikely to be repeated against an organised visiting unit, but there will be tension in the air for a very different reason come kick-off.
Concentrated And Consistent
Deportivo La Coruna, meanwhile, are a side who have successfully come through their own period of problems. At the start of the campaign Miguel Angel Lotina could not get his men to fire at all, and they were languishing with just three goals and four points after eight matches. They’ve since won four of their last six matches, illustrating just how quickly things can be turned around.
Victory on Saturday evening could even allow the Galicians to overhaul Atleti in the standings, which would have been unthinkable after a few weeks of action.
Involved in the Monday night game, Deportivo got back on track after a defeat against Racing Santander. Against newly promoted Hercules, the Riazor side executed a performance that was typically measured, running out 1-0 winners thanks to a goal from Niouoi Lassad as the game entered its dusk period.
“We had to be strong and we won against a quality opponent,” Lotina stated. “It is another step forward and we must continue like this. Mostly I liked our concentration and consistency.”
Solidarity and organisation have been the watchwords for Depor over the course of the last 18 months and there is little to suggest that will change when they meet Atleti on Saturday. Keeping a clean sheet will be of paramount importance, and from that basis the northerners will attempt to strike one single, decisive blow.
Quique Sanchez Flores may have the luxury of a full squad to select from in this encounter, with the one exception being Paulo Assuncao, who is banned. Tiago is training normally and should be fit for the encounter.
Andres Guardado finally makes his return for the Galicians. Ruben Perez will not face his parent club, however.
Juca won’t be back in action until next week, which is the same as Riki. Adrian may also miss out after taking an awkward knock to his ankle on Monday.