Deportivo A Coruña will travel to the Bernabeu this Sunday to face Real Madrid coming off their first loss of the new season, a 0-2 home defeat to the same strong Sevilla side that had victimized los Blancos the week before. Real Madrid will be looking to build off their recent victories over Manchester City and Rayo Vallecano as well as hoping that Sevilla can add FC Barcelona to their growing list of conquests on Saturday, bringing the deficit at the top of the table down to a more manageable 5 points.
Deportivo arrive at the Bernabeu having drawn their last 4 away matches in La Liga, according to WhoScored.com, and the Galician side will most likely try to defend and dictate a slow tempo in hopes of frustrating Real Madrid.
Deportivo boss, Jose Luis Oltra, addressed the difficulties inherit in defending against Real Madrid's multi-faceted attack in a recent interview, saying:
"If you sit very deep they cannot counter, but then you give up other things. We must try and not lose the ball often, get back quickly, cover and help each other. You need to find a balance."
Oltra also highlighted the structural importance of Xabi Alonso within the Real Madrid machine, saying that his side would prioritize disrupting Xabi in the deep midfield because:
"He launches many counters, and begins the attack from his position."
WhoScored's analysis through the season's first 5 weeks depicts Deportivo as a side that likes to attack down the right flank, favoring through balls and long range shots. The statistics also show that Depor commonly average less than 50% possession during matches. Tellingly, the only times they've had more than 50% of the ball they were able to score 3 goals and draw at Valencia (53%) and 2 goals to win at home against Osasuna (53%). If Real Madrid are able to enjoy their typical possession advantage, it could go a long way towards securing a positive result against last year's Segunda champions, even though Depor are used to doing more with less. As noted in the Scouting Report, Oltra does have attacking options at his disposal with Riki, young Portuguese international Nelson Oliveira, and former Atletico Madrid forward Pizzi, among others.
According to Opta, history is on Depor's side to some degree regarding this match-up, as they have beaten Madrid 9 times this century, second only to Barcelona's 10 victories. The flip side of that coin is Opta's revelation that Deportivo have won only 2 of the 41 matches they've played in the Bernabeu, with the last victory coming way back in 2004.
Having played a league match this past Monday, an exhibition on Wednesday and a midweek Champions League fixture against Ajax on the immediate horizon, Jose Mourinho will certainly look to rotate players into the lineup against Deportivo, with Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and the returning Fabio Coentrao likely back in the starting XI. Mourinho publicly lauded Kaka's performance against Millonarios, which also earned him a national team call-up, and it seems highly likely that the Brazilian will figure into one of these two upcoming matches.