Deportivo La Coruña welcome AS Nancy to the Riazor on Wednesday evening, with both sides knowing that their place in the knockout stages is not assured, should Lech Poznán beat Feyenoord. This is the first ever meeting between the two clubs in Europe, and with so much at stake, it is sure to be a high tempo and high-pressured affair…
With some good form in La Liga behind them, the home side should be full of confidence for this match, despite defeat at the weekend to Valladolid. There was no disgrace in that loss though, bearing in mind La Pucela have also beaten Real Madrid, Sevilla and Atlético Madrid this season, and Depor should be able to put it out of their minds. If they can do so then they will look back instead on a rich vein of form, that has included victories over Málaga, Almería and Athletic Bilbao, and has helped them to rise to seventh in the table.
In Europe they have not been quite as successful as in Spain, with their main downfall predictably coming away from home, where they got battered by CSKA Moscow and could only draw with Lech Poznán. Had they beaten the Polish side then they would already be qualified for the next stage but as it is they sit on four points, along with Nancy, and look down at Lech below them, on two.
The good news for Depor is that at the Riazor they have been strong so far this year, losing just once domestically and winning their only UEFA Cup match 3-0 against Feyenoord. They should also have a reasonably strong squad out for the match, despite the fact that Miguel Ángel Lotina will continue with rotations, and will be confident of getting a result.
Much like Deportivo, Nancy could already be through to the knockout stages of the competition, had they managed to hold onto anything against CSKA Moscow in their last match. The French side led early on thanks to Monsef Zerka but then went 3-1 down, before storming back to level the match in the last minutes, only to be denied a point late on by Vagner Love. They will certainly not be too ashamed of the result, bearing in mind Moscow have a 100% record in the group, but they will have been frustrated at letting a point slip through their fingers at the death.
In Spain this Wednesday, they will want to make sure that they build and improve on that defeat, but their recent form does little to inspire confidence. Nancy currently sit 13th in Ligue 1 and even though they beat Grenoble at the weekend, they were defeated by both Lorient and St. Etienne before that, and have been very inconsistent in the league. In Europe they have displayed a similar form, beating Feyenoord but then drawing with Lech Poznán, to leave them in the same position as Deportivo, although with a slightly better goal difference.
They will know that in the Riazor it will be tough, especially as Depor have not lost there in their last eight European matches, but they will also know they cannot play for a draw. Whilst a point will be good enough if Lech cannot win themselves, it could well see one of these sides go out if the Polish side do triumph, and at the moment Nancy might be in prime position, but it is a precarious one.
Deportivo La Coruña
Dec 14 Valladolid 3-0 Deportivo La Coruña (La Liga)
Dec 07 Deportivo La Coruña 2-0 Málaga (La Liga)
Dec 04 Lech Poznán 1-1 Deportivo La Coruña (UEFA Cup)
Nov 30 Almería 0-1 Deportivo La Coruña (La Liga)
Nov 27 Deportivo La Coruña 3-0 Feyenoord (UEFA Cup)
Dec 13 AS Nancy 2-0 Grenoble (Ligue 1)
Dec 07 Lorient 1-0 AS Nancy (Ligue 1)
Dec 04 AS Nancy 3-4 CSKA Moscow (UEFA Cup)
Nov 30 AS Nancy 1-2 St. Etienne (Ligue 1)
Nov 23 Nantes 0-1 AS Nancy (Ligue 1)
Deportivo La Coruña
Miguel Ángel Lotina will continue with his rotation policy in Europe for this encounter and looks likely to play a similar side to that which drew in Poland.
Sergio and Valerón should both play in midfield again, whilst the only change might be up front, where Mista has racked up a lot of minutes lately and could be rested.
Probable Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Aranzubia – Piscu, Colotto, Lopo, Filipe – Guzman, Sergio – Cristian, Valerón, Guardado - Riki
The French side have a large injury list coming into this game and will have to do without the services of midfielder Landry N'Guemo.
Against CSKA Pablo Correa played with three men up front but whether he will be so bold on this occasion remains to be seen.
Probable Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Bracigliano – Chrétien, Luiz, Macaluso, Brison – N’Diaye, Camerling – Féret, Fortuné, Dia - Zerka
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Deportivo La Coruña
Diego Colotto might not have played many games in Spain so far but in the UEFA Cup he has been an inspiration for Deportivo. The Argentine got off on the wrong foot when he gave away a penalty against SK Brann and generally looked clumsy, but since then he has improved dramatically. Scored twice in the return leg against Brann to secure extra-time for his side and then he scored the early goal against Lech Poznán. Colotto is likely to play a part both at the front and back on Wednesday evening and the French defence will have to be aware of his presence.
It’s fair to say that the French side have not scored a lot of goals this season and the man they will be relying on against Deportivo could well be Monsef Zerka. The Moroccan striker might well be getting on in terms of years but with that comes experience, and he will need all of that on Wednesday. Isn’t likely to get too many chances against a miserly Spanish defence but when he is presented with opportunities he will need to take them.
Deportivo might well have been defeated by Valladolid at the weekend but there is no doubt that at the Riazor they are a force to be reckoned with. They have a strong looking side all over the pitch and whilst Nancy have done well in the UEFA Cup so far, they will have their work cut out on Wednesday evening.
Deportivo La Coruña 2-0 AS Nancy