Estadio Riazor holds a strong history and tonight Barcelona will be hosted by Deportivo La Coruña in Week 8 of La Liga. How can Tito maximize the result with the Celtic match beckoning in 3 days? Is this the time where we will see another rotation policy?
The Liga Segunda winner Deportivo hasn’t done well in recent weeks after failing to pick up points in the last three matches. Deportivo’s transfer policy seems to not be working so far as Andres Guardado’s absence hasn’t been met with an adequate replacement. The side from Galicia only have Manuel Pablo unavailable, but things are looking very rough for Jose Luis Oltra.
They are struggling both in offense and defense lately, even though they looked promising in the first three games of the season. Deportivo has only scored 4 goals in the last 5 games, meanwhile leaking 10 goals in the same amount of matches.
Oltra has deployed 4-2-3-1 since the beginning of the season, and it is very likely that they will use the same formation against Barcelona. They often attack from the right flank while building up play with short passes. This is best illustrated by the goal they scored against Real Madrid.
In defense, Tito might use the traditional approach even though I strongly think that Bartra is finally ready to start. Bartra, along with the rest of Spain U-21, has recently qualified for the U-21 Euro finals. The young defender was a starter is almost all of their games. If he is indeed going to be picked, he needs a mentor alongside him and Mascherano fits the bill perfectly.
Song and Busquets can also be centre backs if the situation presents itself, so if Tito wants to use one or the other it might be better to consistently use one as centre back and the other as central defensive midfielder as Song is learning and adapting to his position in the back, meanwhile Busquets is already deployed there, even by Spain’s national team.
At front, Messi will definitely play together with the in-form Pedro who has scored in two consecutive matches. David Villa can round up the front three to give some rest to Alexis Sanchez, who will probably be played against Celtic midweek.
Looking to continue its unbeaten form so far this season, Barcelona will face a tough test in the Estadio Riazor.
Villa is looking closely at these next two matches against Deportivo and Celtic, as he should start in one of them. Alves, Puyol, and Pique are absent through injury and so is Thiago. Isaac Cuenca, Muniesa and Èric Abidal, who continue to be on the long-term absentee list.
Predicted Starting XI: Valdés; Montoya, Mascherano, Bartra, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Villa
RC Deportivo La Coruña
Deportivo is looking to end its bad streak of losing 3 matches on the trot, but everything looks to be against the side. Manuel Pablo is the only notable absentee in the squad.
Predicted Starting XI: Aranzubia; Laure, Marchena, Ze Castro, Ayoze; Aguilar, Juan Dominguez, Bruno Gama, Valeron, Pizzi; Riki
Expect Barcelona to find their rhythm gradually and the home side to surrender possession while placing their players wide to receive long balls through Aguilar. One notable stat for Barcelona when playing away is that they have always conceded at least one goal this season. Let’s hope this trend can end.
RC Deportivo 0 – 2 FC Barcelona
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