DEPORTIVO DE LA CORUÑA
Saturday, March 9, 20:00 GMT
Camp Nou, Barcelona
In matchday 27 of La Liga, the two opposites extremes of the table will meet with leaders FC Barcelona hosting 20th place Deportivo, who look to be headed right back into the second division after getting promoted last season. This match is far more important to the Galician outfit for obvious reasons, the main one being that Barcelona will play arguably the most important match of their season only a few days later and are almost guaranteed to rest key players this weekend. Deportivo, on the other hand, are in absolutely desperate need of points to avoid a fate that seems inevitable at the moment. Even a draw would be a pretty good result all things considered, if only for the confidence boost it would provide.
Team News and Tactical Brief
If there’s one match Barcelona would like to not have to play, this is the one. On Tuesday, Barcelona will host AC Milan in what is surely the biggest match of their season as they fight to come back from a 0-2 deficit and stay alive in the Champions League. Hosting the worst team in La Liga so far three days before such a match while holding an 11 points lead at the top of the league looks like a rather pointless fixture in comparison and Jordi Roura is sure to make every decision concerning this match with the Milan match firmly in his mind, especially as far as the lineup is concerned. Apart from Messi, who likes to play every single match, we shouldn’t expect to see many regulars in the lineup.
At the back, Pinto will replace the suspended Valdés (4 games for getting sent off after the match at the Bernabeu), with a back four composed of Adriano, Puyol, Mascherano and Montoya – the likes of Alba, Pique and Alves should sit this one out. Song, Fabregas and Thiago should be the midfield trio behind Messi, Tello and Villa, with Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Pedro getting some valuable rest ahead of the decisive Milan clash. It will be harder than usual to find motivation for this match, but Jordi Roura will have to find a way to do it – if nothing else, a convincing win here is important to get some important moment for the Champions League match, not to mention a lot of these players who are not regulars should be eager to show that they deserve more playing time.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3) : Victor Valdés; Adriano Correia, Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano, Martin Montoya; Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara; Christian Tello, David Villa, Lionel Messi
While this match might not be so important for Barcelona, it is absolutely crucial for Deportivo, like every match at this point given their situation. The 2000 La Liga champions are currently 8 points below the salvation zone and their form is hardly encouraging with only one point from the past five matches. If there’s ever a good time to visit the Camp Nou though, this is the one and Deportivo will try to take advantage of it and get something out of the match, although the absences of their top scorer Riki and defenders Zé Castro and Marchena will make it all the more difficult.
Aranzubia will start in goal, with Evaldo and Silvo as the full backs. In the center of defense, Azoye is sure to start being the only first team center back available with the canterano Pablo Insua likely to be given a start alongside him. The defense will be shielded by Paulo Assunção and Aguilar, with Bruno Salomão and Pizzi on the wings and the eternal Valeron behind the sole striker Nelson Oliveira, who will replace Riki. The Riazor match back in October turned out to be one of the most spectacular matches of the season in Spain, with Barcelona winning 5-4 with a Messi hattrick; Deportivo will surely get some confidence from that showing and believe they can go one better this time around.
Their strategy will be to contain Barcelona’s attack and try to surprise their defense with quick, deadly counters; Barcelona’s defense has been noticeably leaky lately – they have conceded in every match this year – so Deportivo will most definitely fancy their chances. As Valeron said though, regardless of the outcome of this match, the following three matches against direct competitors will be far more important and must be won.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1) : Aranzubia; Evaldo, Azoye, Insua, Silvio; Assunção, Aguilar; Salomão, Valeron, Pizzi; Oliveira
Key Match Facts
- FC Barcelona have lost three of their past four matches in all competitions.
- The reverse fixture ended 5-4 for Barcelona with a Messi hattrick.
- The last match these two teams played at Camp Nou ended 0-0 in 2010-2011.
Player to Watch Out For
Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
The team’s focus might be primarily on the Milan match but the world’s best player will keep on pursuing his quest to overcome his own La Liga goalscoring record set last season; with 39 goals already from 26 matches, you’d have to be pretty bold to bet against Messi scoring again this weekend.
FC Barcelona 1-1 Deportivo
Barcelona will not be able to play with their usual intensity and will drop 2 more points in La Liga. Lionel Messi and Valeron will find the target for their teams.