Demanding return after internationals

22 hores, Canal+: Barça are back in league action after the international break with a ten o’clock kick off against Deportivo at the always tough Riazor tonight

Squad without a number of injured players – particularly in defence

With the second international break of the season over and done with, La Liga returns with the leaders in La Coruña to visit the recently promoted Deportivo. Although Barça have been very successful at Riazor over the last nine seasons (Deportivo were in the second division for a single campaign last year), the overall balance is not so favourable, reflecting the traditionally tough character of a visit to the beachfront stadium.

Selection options more limited

After the last international break, Tito Vilanova was able to rest some of his stars – such as Leo Messi – in the first game back, but with Piqué, Puyol, Thiago, Alves, Abidal Cuenca and Muniesa all out injured, the coach’s options are more limited this time around.

The only out and out defenders available for the game are Montoya, Bartra and Jordi Alba, but with the versatility of Mascherano, Song and Adriano – who played as the left sided centre back against Madrid, as well as Sergi Busquets who featured at centre half for Spain in midweek, Villanova can widen his options at the back. Jonathan Dos Santos is also in the squad for the first time this season, as well as B team youngster Tello.

Deportivo in the drop zone

Deportivo come into the game on a bad run, having gone six games without a win, losing their last three. Their only win so far this season was in the opening game against Osasuna (2-0) and they have since slipped down to third from bottom, with only the Pamplona outfit and Espanyol below them. Deportivo boss – well known for his bravery – has stuck with the same squad who went down 2-1 away to Rayo in the last game, with veteran full back Manuel Pablo still out injured.