Deportivo host Barcelona this Saturday night (9pm BST), with the Catalans looking to retain their big lead over Real Madrid in the league table.
Tito Vilanova’s team will certainly take the 2-2 result against Real Madrid in their last league game. They were stretched for numbers in defence and it took another moment of magic from Lionel Messi to get a draw.
Barcelona are still without Gerard Pique, and it’s much too soon to be talking about Carles Puyol being back in the squad. In a surprise move, however, Vilanova opted to play Adriano at centre-back instead of his favoured full-back position.
What sort of talking points should we take from Alex Song’s absence during this defensive injury crisis? Song was brought in for his defensive versatility but has so far been a long way from comfortable in the back line.
It’s also worth remembering that Javier Mascherano had a number of shaky moments earlier in the season, and goalkeeper Victor Valdes also gifted Real Madrid a goal in the Spanish Super Cup.
In a surprise move, it appears that Lionel Messi will be benched for the trip to Deportivo. Tito Vilanova has already done what Pep Guardiola has been unable to do and given Messi a rest. The Argentine striker was benched for the game against Getafe earlier in the season and the recent international break is surely at the fore of Vilanova’s thinking.
I doubt he’ll be too concerned with Messi’s anger towards the decision, but David Villa’s recent scoring form should give Barcelona enough firepower for this weekend.
In the absence of Messi, Cesc Fabregas is likely to take up that ‘false 9’ role in the team.
Dani Alves was taken off early during the Clasico but it was later said to be a tactical change. The choice to bring in the inexperienced Martin Montoya left many scratching their heads.
Despite the international break, it’s likely we’ll see more from Montoya this weekend. The manager appears to be impressed by the right-back’s recent performances.
Pedro is also coming back to the club in excellent scoring form for Spain. The winger scored a hat trick during the international break and is one who is likely to retain his place in the starting XI for Barcelona.
Deportivo’s last two league games have seen them lose twice to Madrid teams, conceding five times against Real and twice at Rayo Vallecano. On both occasions, Riki grabbed the only goal for Depor. They’re currently 18th in the league and are unlikely to take anything from this game against Barcelona.
Deportivo La Coruna v Barcelona Betting Tips
Deportivo are biggest at 119/12 (nearly 10/1) with Pinnacle to win this home game. The draw is best at 51/11 (just over 9/2) also with Pinnacle, while Barcelona are biggest at 4/11 for the away win with William Hill.
I certainly think they’ll try and take advantage of Barcelona’s injury situation in defence, but Lionel Messi is always on the bench (reportedly) if things get a little uncomfortable.