Barcelona vs Deportivo de La Coruña Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More

?Coming off the back of a 2-0 win against Villarreal at the Estadio de la Ceramica, Barcelona will be keen to continue their fine form that has seen them go undefeated in La Liga, dropping points only thrice as the halfway point of the season draws near.

In contrast to the good form of the Blaugrana, Deportivo are currently struggling to sty afloat in the league this season, sitting in 17th, only three points clear of the relegation zone. 

However, after beating Leganes last week, the Branquiazuis will be hoping they can kick on and take something away from their encounter with the league leaders at the Camp Nou on Sunday.


Classic Encounter

FUSSBALL: CL 02/03, FC BAYERN MUENCHEN - DEPORTIVO LA CORUNA

Deportivo haven’t had a great deal of luck against Barcelona over the course of the past two decades however, this was far from the case in the 2002/03 when the Galician outfit travelled east. 

The match started out well for the hosts, with Javier Saviola opening the scoring in the opening two minutes, and despite Deportivo puling one back through Lionel Scaloni after the first quarter of an hour, Thiago Motta restored Barcelona’s lead eight minutes later.

Going into the break Radomir Antic’s took the favourable position against a strong Deportivo side, leading 2-1 at the halfway point. Though Barcelona’s joy would be short lived as the visitors came out fighting in the second half.

A quick-fire double from Roy Makaay, La Liga’s top scorer for the 2002/03 campaign, set the precedent for the rest of the match as a further goal from Sergio Gonzalez Soriano saw the visitors come from behind to claim a famous 4-2 victory over Barcelona on their own patch.


Key Battle

Luis Suarez vs Fabian Schar

Villarreal v Barcelona - La Liga

After his man of the match performance in Barcelona’s last game against Villarreal, it will take something special to keep Luis Suarez quiet. When the Uruguayan striker is in the mood he can outwit any defender on the planet with his trickery and close control. 

While the 30-year-old has been uncharacteristically quiet so far this season, notching only seven goals so far in the 2017/18 campaign, the match against a struggling Deportivo could prove to be an excellent opportunity to kick on and return to form.

On the receiving end of Suarez’s attacking exploits will be Swiss defender Fabian Schar. Formerly of Hoffenheim, Schar joined Deportivo in the summer and has been a standout performer for the Galician outfit so far this season, with the 25-year-old even being linked with a January move to Barcelona,.

Although Schar has a lot to offer going forward for a defender, the onus will be on his defensive ability when tested by arguable the best striker in the world in Luis Suarez. The Swiss international will look to dominate Barcelona’s attack with his hard tackling and aerial superiority and in turn, hopefully shut out the Uruguayan.


Team News

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Barcelona will be without French defender Samuel Umtiti once again as the 24-year-old looks to recover from an injury picked up in Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Sporting CP in the Champions League last week. 

Ousmane Dembele is slowly nearing a return after rupturing his thigh muscle in September, however the starlet will not be available for the encounter against Deportivo. Brazilian midfielder Rafinha also remains sidelined with a long-term injury picked up in April.

Deportivo have accumulated an unfortunate amount of injuries over the past month, with full backs Luisinho and Gerard Valentin ruled out, as well as right wing duo Bruno Gama and Federico Cartabia set to miss the trip to the Nou Camp.

Potential Barcelona lineup: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic, Paulinho, Messi, Suarez

Potential Deportivo de La Coruna lineup: Ruben, Juanfran, Schar, Sidnei, Navarro, Guilherme, Borges, Gil, Colak, Adrian Lopez,  Perez


Prediction

FC Barcelona v Sporting CP - UEFA Champions League

With Barcelona flying and Deportivo struggling it’s hard to see this turning into anything but a convincing victory for Barca. It has been eight months since any team kept a clean sheet against the Blaugrana, and Deportivo’s defensive record has been far from exemplary this season.

The last time Depotivo played Barca in the league they were able to pick up a shock 2-1 victory at home however, Barcelona have improved a lot since the 2016/17 season, unlike the Branquiazuis who continue to struggle in the league.

Prediction: Barcelona 5-0 Deportivo de La Coruña

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Luciano Spalletti Makes Light-Hearted Suggestion That Inter Will Try Signing Iniesta in January

?Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti has joked about who he wants to see join the Nerazzurri in the January transfer window.

Inter are currently undefeated in Serie A, topping the table ahead of intense competition from the likes of Napoli, Juventus, Roma and Lazio. However, it has been suggested that the Milan outfit will need to sign a couple of new players in January in order to maintain their momentum in the league.

FC Internazionale v Pordenone - TIM Cup

“I think we have to be careful in the transfer market,” Spalletti said, as reported by ?Football Italia. “I think until the club and the President give their true intentions about how to act in this transfer window we should all be silent.

“Creating the expectations that you [the media] created before the start of the season, and the lack of faith because of the names who did come in isn’t good for the fans, the players or Inter. Above all it’s about results.

“If you ask me who I want then I’ll tell you. Here are three names I’d like: Sergio Ramos, [Andres] Iniesta and [Alexis] Sanchez. Get to work on those, OK? Otherwise start again with the phone calls. We need to give those who have taken Inter to where are now the respect they deserve.”

Inter have dropped only eight points from a possible 48 so far in Serie A seeing them surge unexpectedly to the top of the table and put themselves in contentions for their first Scudetto since 2010, despite finishing seventh last season.


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Neymar Should Avoid Real Madrid’s Advances in Favour of Becoming a PSG Legend

?After completing his mammoth €222m switch from Barcelona to PSG, it’s fair to say that Neymar has caused a great deal of controversy at his new club. 

Bust ups with Edinson Cavani and Unai Emery as well as penalty-gate have set a rather sour tone to the big money deal, something which Neymar would’ve been hoping to avoid. The 25-year-old has set the story straight regarding his relationship with the pair, but for the issue to have risen it would’ve caused a great deal of unrest in the dressing room and hampered his chances of settling in quickly. 

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However, although the off-field issues may have prolonged his acclimatisation at the club, they don’t seem to be affecting his abilities on the pitch. The Brazilian has helped his side reach the top of the table, losing only one game thus far. 

He has featured 12 times in the league, scoring nine goals and registering six assists. His stats look like being some of the best in the league come the end of the season, as he sits just behind teammate Cavani on most combined goals and assists so far. 

Alongside the Uruguayan and French starlet Kylian Mbappe, PSG have formed a blistering front line capable of taking apart any team they come up against. Of the 51 league goals the team have netted, the front three have 31 of them, highlighting both their importance and the sheer class in front of goal. The trio took the likes of Celtic and Anderlecht to the cleaners in the Champions League group stage, helping them to finish top. However, their first place finish wasn’t enough for them to avoid a tough draw in the round of 16. 

PSG will face Real Madrid in the first knockout round, arguably one of the toughest ties of the lot. The Spanish giants finished second in their group behind Tottenham, and their inconsistent performances in both La Liga and the Champions League have caused Florentino Perez to target the world’s best stars to get them back to their best. And one of those key targets is in fact, Neymar. 

A switch back to Spain would surely surround Neymar with even more controversy, as he would be following in Luis Figo and Ronaldo’s boots to play for both Barca and Madrid. The deal would send shockwaves around the footballing world, and really question Neymar’s decision to move to France in the first place. The 25-year-old has finally escaped Lionel Messi’s shadow and is performing to an incredibly high standard. 

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He has the chance to win multiple awards in the French capital and although Perez has claimed that he would have a better chance of winning the Ballon d’Or if he moved to Madrid, that surely isn’t true. Neymar has the chance to excel for PSG and make them one of the best teams in the league. 

The attacking line is, as previously stated, one of the best in the world and the club have the finances to continue to improve the team, and Neymar will be the man they build it around. 

PSG are on course to take the league title back from Monaco after enduring a difficult season last term, and this year they look like being genuine contenders for the Champions League. Leading the line, Neymar has the opportunity to create history for the French club, not just this season but for a number of years. By avoiding Real Madrid’s advances this summer, the Brazilian can shine in a club hoping to become the best in the world, and if he leads his side to Champions League glory, he must be a shoe in for the Ballon d’Or next year. 


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Diego Maradona Claims He Would’ve Won More Ballon d’Or Titles Than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo

?Argentina legend Diego Maradona has rather sensationally claimed that had he been eligible, he would have won more Ballons d’Or during his playing career than either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. 

The 57-year-old, who is currently the manager of United Arab Emirates side Al Fujairah, could not be held in contention for the prize in his day, as (up until rule changes in 1995) only European players were able to get their hands on the highly-coveted accolade. 

This meant the former Barcelona and Napoli attacker, who is considered one of the greatest players of all time, was unable to be awarded the trophy.

Messi and Ronaldo have dominated in recent years, holding 10 between them following the Real Madrid man’s most recent success earlier this month. 

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However, had he been eligible for the Ballon d’Or, the ever-outspoken Maradona has insisted he would have secured more than both La Liga stars. 

“Ballon d’Or? As a trophy…It’s very difficult to give just one Ballon d’Or to a player. Because giving one to Cristiano and to Messi…it’s boring now,” he told ?AS.

“Who else deserves it? Maybe [Edinson] Cavani, [Kylian] Mbappe, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, but I don’t know. There were more [contenders] before.

When asked about the ineligibility rules in place during his playing career, Maradona replied: “No, no…I’d have more than Ronaldo and Messi.”

The Argentine also rebuffed Ronaldo’s recent claims that he is the best player the world has ever seen, but did reveal some admiration for the Real Madrid star.  

“Ronaldo said he is the best ever? Tell him to stop talking nonsense!” added the 1986 World Cup winner.

“The best? For me…From what little I saw of them, Alfredo Di Stéfano, [Johan] Cruyff…and Messi, but it can be Cristiano too.

“Another thing that I like about Cristiano Ronaldo is that when the team need him, he delivers. There haven’t been many players since Cruyff with that quality.”


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Ex-Leeds United Starlet Being Tracked by Barcelona After Impressing in La Liga

?Barcelona are monitoring the situation of Villarreal man Alfonso Pedraza, according to reports.

21-year-old winger Pedraza in particular is something of a shock target for Ernesto Valverde’s table-topping side, after having made 14 league appearances for Championship Leeds United on loan in the second half of last season.

He is currently out on loan again, this time at Alaves where he has fifteen appearances in all competitions this season. 

According to ?IBTimes, Barcelona are looking at the versatile wide man, whose contract runs until 2022, as potential transfer target.

The report claims that Pedreza has a €20m release clause in his contracts, though that number are unlikely to phase the financial muscle of Barcelona. 

Pedraza has been mooted as a possible long term replacement for Jordi Alba, after being deployed by Alaves at left back for much of this season.

He has drawn comparisons with Gareth Bale and Denis Cheryshev for attacking style and goal threat.

It is also suggested that Barcelona could face competition for Pedraza, with both Newcastle and Southampton having been linked with the Spaniard in the summer, with Rafael Benitez still thought to be interested in the left sided player.


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