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Razor's edge at Riazor

Published: Monday 30 September 2002, 15.15CET
Defeat for RC Deportivo La Coruña or RC Lens could signal the end of the road.
Published: Monday 30 September 2002, 15.15CET

Razor's edge at Riazor

Defeat for RC Deportivo La Coruña or RC Lens could signal the end of the road.

By Patrick Hart

RC Deportivo La Coruña fans will be wondering what to expect when their team takes on RC Lens on Matchday Three of the UEFA Champions League. Victorious in Munich, but then victims of AC Milan, Deportivo will hope to show their better side at the Riazor stadium tomorrow night.

'Must beat Lens'
Their chances of emerging from Group G could depend on it. "We must beat Lens twice and then we will be in a good position," said coach Javier Irureta, after last week's 4-0 home defeat against Milan clouded over the win at FC Bayern München. "We have sustained some psychological damage but we still have three points from two games."

Tristán back
Whatever the damage, Deportivo picked themselves up to claim their third victory from four league games on Saturday, coming from behind to beat Deportivo Alavés. Just as important as the result was the return to form of Diego Tristán. The Spanish international came off the substitutes' bench to change the game with the equalising goal and then the assist for Deportivo's last-minute winner.

Change of emphasis
And Tristán is now set for his first start of the season as Irureta looks to make up for the loss of injured playmaker Juan Valerón. So far, Sergio González has filled Valerón's midfield boots; now, though, Irureta is likely to play Tristán alongside Roy Makaay in attack as Deportivo's usual 4-2-3-1 formation morphs into a 4-4-2. "We have to change our game," Irureta warned.

Duscher drops out
Argentinian midfield player Aldo Duscher should make way for Tristán, with the additions of goalkeeper José Molina and striker Víctor Sánchez, both back from injury, being other possible alterations to the line-up.

Camara for Lens
Less positive is the Lens team news. Senegalese midfield player Pape Bouba Diop misses out with a twisted ankle, while Polish defender Jacek Bak is a doubt with a thigh strain, although fit-again Zoumana Camara is included in a 19-man squad.

Goal drought
The Sang et Or have scored just seven times in nine league games, and their profligacy cost them in Saturday's derby stalemate with Lille OSC. "We lacked the composure to finish off our attacks," coach Joël Muller lamented.

Utaka on target
Strikers Dagui Bakari, Daniel Moreira and John Utaka have so far failed to bridge the gap left by El-Hadji Diouf's sale to Liverpool FC. But they can take heart from last week's 1-1 home draw with Bayern - Nigerian international Utaka earning a point with a 77th-minute header. That result followed a narrow 2-1 defeat at Milan, and left Utaka to say: "We felt we could have won because we were the better team in the last half-hour."

'We need wins'
That sense of regret will become chronic, however, if Lens fail to take anything other than ifs and buts from La Coruña tomorrow night. "We need wins - and fast," admitted Muller.

Last updated: 01/10/02 9.15CET

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