The Blaugranes are returning to the Riazor after about 27 months to face the hosts Deportivo La Coruna. Deportivo and Barcelona had played out a thrilling 4-5 encounter in favor of the Catalans back in October 2012. This game was played under the management of late Tito Villanova. Barcelona clinched the title the same season. However, after having suffered relegation at the end of that season, Deportivo have worked their way back into the Spanish top flight this season and look all set to welcome the Catalan side to their home again in what would seemingly be a soccer fiesta.
Barcelona had a convincing win over Elche in the Copa Del Rey this week. A comfortable 9-0 aggregate victory has set Barcelona’s spirits high this season as they are still alive in all the three major competitions unlike their Capital rivals Real Madrid who have been knocked out by Atletico in the Copa.
The main talking point is that Barcelona won the second leg by a score of 4-0 despite of having all of its key players rested. This clearly suggests Luis Enrique’s intentions for tonight’s encounter. Also, Luis Enrique can be assured that he has a fairly good bench strength which was capable enough to bag a second leg win over Elche without the key players. The likes of Rafinha, Traore and Sergi Roberto were excellent in the return leg victory. Enrique’s confidence in his team is surmounting high and he believes he can effectively rotate his squad and first team in order to excel high in all the three major competitions. He mentioned,
“We are a big enough squad and I believe all my players are in perfect condition to deal with the calendar we have ahead of us.”
Deportivo La Coruna’s last game ended a disappointing stalemate away to Levante. This draw was enough to keep them out of the relegation zone while Levante still struggles at the 17th spot. Deportivo’s strike force isn’t threatening as their last goal in all competitions came in the Liga game against Athletic Bilbao courtesy of midfielder Cavaleiro almost a fortnight ago.
Barcelona with the star attacking trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar returning to the team and with Xavi reported to have resumed his training after being on rest due to a calf injury, will entertain no excuse if they fail to bag a win against Deportivo. With a win over Atletico Madrid in their last Liga fixture they have shown every reason to race for the title. Also Real Madrid which is a point ahead of Barcelona with a game in hand will tighten up the race for the title as they are already out of one major tournament in Spain. Barcelona has no reason to slip up now.
Deportivo on the other hand will appreciate a victory in Riazor as they see themselves at the 16th spot just a point above the relegation zone. The promoted side from Coruna will want to stay in the top flight this season and a win over the Spanish giant will be highly motivating.
Also, this week Lionel Messi saw his eternal rival clinch a second Ballon d’Or in a row. The last time Messi played in Riazor, he scored a memorable hat trick. Who knows? King Leo might want to begin his ambitious journey to next year’s Ballon d’Or by weaving some magic on his return to the Riazor tonight.
MATCH DATE: 18th January, 2015
VENUE: Estadio Municipal De Riazor
REFEREE: Juan Martinez Munuera
Deportivo La Coruna:
Fabricio, Bergantinos, Dominguez, Rodriguez, Cuenca, Juanfran, Sidnei, Toche, Luisinho, I Cavaleiro, Lopo
Bravo, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta, Neymar , Suarez, Messi.