La Liga: Depor find fortune on pitch despite financial woes
Struggling Galicians show signs of turning form around under new coach, as Barcelona break another record and Real Madrid fall further behind.
By Halima Ali
In a week when Deportivo La Coruña filed for bankruptcy protection, you would think a club which is €99 million in debt would not have much to smile about. But the Galicians, who currently sit in 19th place in the league table, seem to be slowly turning around their fortunes on the pitch with the help of their new manager.
Drafted in during the winter break to replace José Luis Oltra, who was at least not given his marching orders until after he had enjoyed Christmas day, Domingos Paciência got off to the best possible start in his first match in charge when his new team beat high-flying visitors Málaga 1-0 thanks to a goal by Luis Pizzi for their first win in two months.
The Portuguese manager, who played as a striker for FC Porto before taking up coaching at several clubs including Sporting de Braga and most recently Sporting Lisbon, had called for total commitment in order to avoid an immediate return to la segunda and his side then held on for the final 26 minutes with a man less to earn a point from their trip to Real Sociedad.
Depor took a 27th-minute lead through Pizzi but soon found themselves on the back foot as they conceded an equaliser to Carlos Vela, who tucked the ball home from close range to make it 1-1 just before half-time.
The start of the second half saw several cards and defender Evaldo received two to earn the Brazilian an early bath and leave Depor facing an uphill struggle. But the newly reinforced Galicians – who signed midfielder Paulo Assunção and defender Sílvio Pereira on loan from Atlético Madrid during the January transfer window – managed to do hold on, as Sociedad’s forwards Antoine Griezmann and Vela were unable to make the most of the chances that fell their way.
The result gave Depor four points from two games under their new coach.
Elsewhere, Míchel was relieved of his duties as Sevilla coach on Monday following the team’s 2-0 loss to Valencia. The former Real Madrid player took over at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán last February, when he replaced Marcelino García Toral.
He guided the side to a ninth-place finish, failing to qualify for Europe. Just six wins in 19 league games this season, including four defeats in the last five games, have left Sevilla six points above the relegation zone. Though he was given the dreaded vote of confidence last month, the club finally ran out of patience.
His replacement, who was in the stands at Míchel’s last game in charge at the weekend, is none other than Unai Emery. The former Valencia coach, who left Los Che at the end of last season after leading the club to third place in la liga and automatic qualification to the Champions League for the third year in a row, had moved to Russia but was sacked by Spartak Moscow in November, following a string of poor results.
Messi’s still on fire
At La Rosaleda, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi scored one goal and had a hand in two more in a 3-1 win at Málaga. Barça remain unbeaten in the league and ended the first half of the season with a record 55 out of a possible 57 points.
An 18th victory in 19 games for Tito Vilanova’s side restored their 11-point lead over second-placed Atlético Madrid and a massive 18-point lead over Real Madrid.
In Pamplona, José Mourinho’s Madrid dropped yet more points when they were held to a 0-0 draw at struggling Osasuna, who currently sit at the bottom of the table. Cristiano Ronaldo was absent through suspension and Los Merengues struggled without their talisman in a poor-quality game.
Madrid remain in third place, seven points adrift of their city rivals Atléti but could soon find themselves slipping to fourth if results don’t improve, as Real Betis are only three points behind.
Getafe CF 2 – 2 Granada CF
Málaga CF 1 – 3 FC Barcelona
Atlético Madrid 2 – 0 Real Zaragoza
Real Sociedad 1 – 1 Deportivo La Coruña
Real Betis 2 – 0 Levante UD
Valencia CF 2 – 0 Sevilla FC
Osasuna 0 – 0 Real Madrid
RCD Espanyol 1 – 0 Celta de Vigo
Real Valladolid 3 – 1 RCD Mallorca
Athletic Bilbao 1 – 2 Rayo Vallecano
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Published: Jan 15 2013
Category: Featured, Spain News, Sports
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
Short URL: http://iberosphere.com/?p=7743
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