preview | 2016-10-14
Match Preview - Barcelona vs Deportivo La Coruña
Yet another tricky match after the international break, here's what Depor has in store for Barça
Barcelona will return to action for the first time in 13 days on a Saturday afternoon when they host Deportivo La Coruña. Barca will be hoping to end a poor run of form after the international break with the Catalan giants losing their last two games (Real Madrid and Alavés) after FIFA breaks. Some pundits have said this is becoming an issue but the reality is Barcelona were unbeaten in 18 games (15 wins and three draws) after international breaks in recent seasons. Barca's last defeat came in September 2010 when they were beaten 2-0 at home to Hercules.
Deportivo have made a reasonable start to the season and find themselves 13th in La Liga with eight points from seven games. They got off to a good start with a win over Eibar and a draw away to Real Betis but could only pick up one point from their next four games with their goalless draw away to Alavés sandwiched between losses to Athletic Club, Leganes and Atletico Madrid. They did manage a win in their last game beating Sporting Gijon 2-1 to raise spirits ahead of the international break.
Deportivo have struggled to score goals since Lucas Perez moved to Arsenal and in fact their tally of five is the lowest in La Liga. Defensively they have been sound, conceding just six goals in seven games which is the third best record in the top flight. Things have been difficult away from Riazor with Depor yet to score an away goal this season. Once again their defence has kept them competitive with two 0-0 draws and a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid.
Head to Head
Barcelona have an excellent recent record against Deportivo going 12 games without loss to the Galician side. That run includes eight wins and four draws. Deportivo's last win over Barcelona came in April 2008 when they won 2-0 at Riazor. For Deportivo's last away win over Barcelona you have to go back as far as October 2003. That win was Deportivo's third in a row against Barcelona.
Overall the clubs have met 103 times with Barcelona winning 61 times. There has been 21 draws and Deportivo have won 21 times. Barcelona have netted 251 times in those games and conceded 110 goals. Lionel Messi is the top goalscorer in the fixture with 21 goals.
Gaizka Garitano is still trying to find his feet at Deportivo having just been appointed in the summer as a replacement for Victor Sanchez, who has since been appointed and sacked as manager of Olympiakos. Garitano spent most of his playing career in the Basque Country firstly with his hometown club, Athletic Club although he never made the first team there, as well as having spells with Eibar, Real Sociedad and Alaves.
After retiring in 2009 he joined Eibar as a coach before taking over the Eibar B team. In June 2012 he was promoted to the role of first team manager and guided the team to back to back promotions which saw them in the top division for the first time in their history. Garitano resigned at the end of the 2014/15 season after the club were relegated (they ended up staying in La Liga due to Elche's financial problems). He spent a few months in charge of Valladolid last season but was sacked in October 2015 after a disappointing run of results and he was out of work until his appointment at Deportivo in June.
Injured & Suspended
Depor will be without Juanfran and Joselu for the trip to Catalunya. The pair who are on loan from Watford and Stoke City respectively have been ruled out due to injury and Carles Gil, who is on loan from Aston Villa, received medical clearance but he was not named in the match day squad. Others who did not make the 18 man squad and will therefore not travel to Barcelona include Faycal Fajr and Ruben Martinez.
For Barcelona Jasper Cillessen, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto will miss out due to injury but Luis Enrique's squad will be boosted by the return from injury of Lionel Messi and Samuel Umtiti although neither are expected to start.
Garitano has mostly set up his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation although he has deployed a 4-4-2 on occasion. It has been mentioned in the build up to this game that he could start with three central defenders as Deportivo look to stop a Barcelona side that put eight goals past them in their last meeting but Garitano was quick to point out that while that system worked for Alaves, Celtic tried the same a few days later and conceded seven goals. The inclusion of Alex Bergantinos in the matchday squad has led to speculation that Deportivo will play three central midfielders in a 4-5-1 formation.
GK – German Lux (34 years old)
The Argentine veteran has been playing in Spain since 2007 when he moved to Mallorca from River Plate. Lux joined Deportivo in 2011 and has represented Argentina at various levels including senior. He won the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2001 and the 2004 Olympic gold medal with his country.
RB – Laure (31 years old)
Laure began his career with Real Madrid but never got beyond the C team before leaving for Leganes in 2006. After a year there he moved to Deportivo in 2007 and has been there since making over 200 appearances in all competitions.
CB – Raul Albentosa (28 years old)
Albentosa signed for the club in the summer from Derby County. Things didn't work out for him in England and he spent last year on loan at Malaga.
CB – Sidnei (27 years old)
The Brazilian eventually signed for the club permanently in the summer after spending the last two seasons on loan. Sidnei was at Benfica for eight years but spent four of them out on loan and never really made a big impact in Portugal.
LB - Fernando Navarro (34 years old)
The La Masia graduate spent 13 years with Barcelona as man and boy before leaving in 2006. He had two years with Mallorca before joining Sevilla where he spent seven years, winning two Europa League's and a Copa del Rey. Navarro was in the Spain squad that won the 2008 Euros.
CM – Guilherme (25 years old)
The Brazilian midfielder moved to Europe in 2014 to sign for Udinese. He was a regular in his first season in Serie A but struggled for his place last year and joined Deportivo on loan in the summer.
CM - Pedro Mosquera (28 years old)
The A Coruña born midfielder spent time in the Deportivo youth ranks before joining Real Madrid. He spent 10 years with Real before moving to Getafe and Elche. He moved back home to Deportivo in 2015.
CM - Celso Borges (28 years old)
The Costa Rica international moved to Europe in 2009. He spent six years in Scandinavia with Fredrikstad (Norway) and AIK (Sweden) before moving to Deportivo in 2015 initially on loan before making the move permanent that summer.
RW – Bruno Gama (28 years old)
The Portuguese winger first played for Deportivo in 2011 but left after two years to go to Dnipro in Ukraine. He returned to A Coruña in the summer. Gama was in the Portugal Under-17 squad that won the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in 2003.
LW – Emre Colak (25 years old)
The wide man joined Deportivo in the summer from Galatasaray where he won three Turkish league titles and three Turkish Cups. He was capped twice by the Turkish national team in 2012.
CF – Marlos Moreno (20 years old)
The Colombian striker is on loan at the club from Manchester City whom he joined in the summer from Atletico Nacional. He has already won senior caps for Colombia.
Others in contention:
Alejandro Arribas (27 years old)
The Madrid born defender began his career with Rayo Majadahonda before joining Rayo Vallecano in 2008. Arribas moved to Osasuna in 2012 and spent two years there before joining Sevilla. He only had one season with the Andalusians and moved to Depor in 2015.
Luisinho (31 years old)
The Portuguese full back has been at Deportivo since joining from Benfica in 2013. Depor is the most settled he has ever been in his career as he approaches his 100th game for the club.
Borja Valle (24 years old)
Valle began his career with his hometown club, Ponferradina, before signing for Ourense in 2013 (he had spent a year on loan there previously). He spent the last two seasons with Oviedo and signed for Deportivo in the summer.
Alex Bergantinos (31 years old)
The A Coruña born midfielder has been at Deportivo since 2002. He spent four years with the B team before graduating to the senior team. He had loan spells at Xerez, Granada and Gimnastic before really breaking into the team but he now has over 150 La Liga appearances for the club.
Ryan Babel (29 years old)
Babel, who has played for Holland 43 times, was once regarded as one of the brightest prospects in Europe but he never really lived up to that billing. He joined the club in the summer from Al Ain of the UAE.
Florin Andone (23 years old)
The Romanian international has lived in Spain since he was 12 years old and spent time with Villarreal before joining Cordoba in 2014. After two years in Andalusia he moved to Deportivo in the summer.
Lux was out injured last season when Barcelona scored eight goals against Deportivo at Riazor so he won't suffer the same psychological scars that many of his team mates will but ultimately if you are to get something away to Barcelona you need your goalkeeper to have a good game. Lux is capable of doing just that and with a solid back four in front of him and a packed midfield in front of that he will be hoping that they can restrict his workload to a manageable level.
The centre back will have his hands full with Barcelona's forwards but on his day he can be a match for anyone. Albentosa was probably at his best at Eibar when he helped them win promotion to La Liga and he impressed in the first half of the season before moving to Derby County. It's well documented that things didn't work out for him in England but he had a solid year with Malaga last season and has slotted right into the Deportivo team and he is a big part of the reason why their defensive record has been so impressive.
Borges is currently Deportivo's top scorer this season with two goals despite being a midfielder. The team have yet to replace Lucas Perez's goals, so his manager will be delighted that he has managed to get a few goals from the middle of the park. He will most likely spend most of the game in defensive positions but when Depor do get forward the Costa Rican will be looking to arrive in the box to pose a threat to the Barcelona goal.
The referee for Saturday's game will be Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez. He has only refereed Barcelona twice before and on both occasions Barca drew 2-2 (Villarreal and Deportivo). In those two games he booked four Barcelona players and gave Barca a penalty.
Deportivo will be more familiar with the referee and in their last five games with him in charge they have only won once (two draws and two defeats). In those five games he booked nine Deportivo players.
The big question is what sort of line up will Luis Enrique put out with the big Champions League game midweek against Manchester City? Despite being fit again it's unlikely Messi will start and Andres Iniesta could be rested for the City game. Barcelona have been burned before when resting players and the first goal will be crucial. If Barcelona get it they could go on and win 2 or 3-0. Deportivo have been good defensively and breaking them down won't be easy. It could require Messi or Iniesta to come on and create something but ultimately this is a game Barcelona should be able to win.
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WRITTEN BY: Gerry Johnston
Gerry Johnston is a 31 year old Civil Servant from County Antrim, Ireland. Gerry has been writing about football for various websites since Euro 2012 and he has been a Barcelona fan since the mid 90s.