Los Periquitos will hope to keep their strong run going against a Depor team who are increasingly looking in trouble...
Spanish champions little over a decade ago, Deportivo La Coruna are already playing for their top flight lives this season. One of only two sides yet to have picked up a win in the Primera Division, the Riazor outfit have the challenge of recovering from a sticky start to the season to overcome Espanyol on Sunday.
Once named Super Depor, during an era in which they played with free-scoring excellence, the reality of the Galicians’ situation now could barely be any more different. Wins this season have been impossible to find, and though they are strong at the back, they are wholly reliant on their defence to abide as their offence has been thoroughly impotent.
Four goals are all they have mustered in the early games of the league season, and two of them came from the penalty spot. They managed another in midweek when they drew 1-1 with Osasuna in the Copa del Rey, but it’s clear that they need a real boost in attack when the transfer window opens.
“I have spent two nights without a wink of sleep, and yesterday I had to ask the club doctors for help,” worried club coach Miguel Angel Lotina confessed to the press earlier this week. “I want to continue, we have emerged stronger from previous situations, and I want to do so again.”
The coach is clearly under pressure, but if Depor don’t start winning soon, he will quickly find that burden handed to someone else.
Fifth in the Primera Division table at present, Espanyol can be very pleased with life, having won five of their opening eight La Liga encounters. A side previously riddled with problems when it came to winning on the road, there have been signs over the last couple of weeks that Mauricio Pochettino is finally finding a solution to his side’s travel sickness.
Away against Mallorca a fortnight ago, los Periquitos claimed three points, putting to bed the memories of losses against Villarreal, Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, which were either unfortunate or unflattering, and sometimes both. Luis Garcia’s penalty at the Iberostar Stadium seemed to shake from their shoulders something of a curse.
As if to emphasis their new found confidence on the road, Pochettino’s side went to Segunda Division promotion hopefuls Valladolid in midweek and recorded a commanding 2-0 victory in the Copa del Rey. Locally born teenager Alvaro Vazquez scored both the goals, promising a long-term solution to the club’s poor recent goal scoring record.
Espanyol were generally considered to have underachieved during periods of last season, which restricted them to a mid-table finish. Pochettino will hope that their current run is the beginning of a more sustained run of fortune and not simply a happy blip. Victory at the Riazor would certainly lend credence to theories that los Periquitos may just be a team to watch this season.
Claudio Morel will be available for the weekend’s fixture after missing the last two games having recently returned from Paraguay. Antonio Tomas is again expected to miss out due to injury, but Urreta is still out with a knee problem.
Alberto Lopo returns to league action after missing last weekend’s fixture due to a ban. Juca was saved in midweek and should also be ready. The big news is that Andres Guardado is set to return to competition ahead of schedule.
Ivan de la Pena, Felipe Mattioni and Ernesto Galan remain sidelined for los Periquitos, while key attacker Pablo Daniel Osvaldo is still suspended. Youngster Alvaro Vazquez is therefore expected to be given a significant run after his midweek heroics.