Another ex-Atlético player, Juan Valerón, is the perfect midfield complement to Tristán and Makaay. The vision he brings to Deportivo's play, and his sheer mastery of the ball, leave him with few peers on the European scene. Spanish observers compare the 27-year-old to a canary - he can sometimes appear indolent - but when he is on his game he is unstoppable. If Valeron finds his form, the best could be yet to come.
Valerón again. Irureta found there was no substitute when injury deprived the coach of his playmaker for six games between Matchday 2 and Matchday 7. Only the left-sided veteran Fran González came close with his superior ball skills and eye for a pass. How they could have done with the Brazilian Djalminha, discarded in the summer having been deemed surplus to requirements.
Key player - Roy Makaay
The Dutch international has been the star man, scoring in six of Deportivo's eight Champions League games to date. Not only did he hit a hat-trick at fortress Bayern, he also struck the winning goals in the victories over Bayern at the Riazor, and Milan at the San Siro.
Best moment so far
The undoubted highlight of the campaign has been the 3-2 Matchday 1 defeat of Bayern - the German club's first home reverse in the competition in five seasons and a first-ever Spanish success at the Olimpiastadion. This set Deportivo on their way to qualifying at Bayern's expense, second in Group G behind Milan. What they could do with a few more nights like that.
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