Preview: FC Barcelona vs Deportivo de La Coruña (game 27 liga 2012/13)

deportivo 4-5 barça tello goalAfter four years of almost non-stop success Barça have taken a number of blows in the last few weeks to remind us that success in football is neither easy nor guaranteed. Results on the field are one thing but we seem to be getting hit in a number of painful ways in other areas. Obviously the most important of these is the situation with first team coach Tito Vilanova and there is little we can do except hope for his speedy recovery. Besides that we have recently suffered a Fifa block on six foreign players, including the brilliant 15-year-old Korean Lee Seung Woo, from playing in our junior teams. I don’t know too much about the laws on signing young players but it seems Barça are only as guilty as many other top clubs, and the Fifa decision seems to have come after two clubs, reported to be Valencia and Celta, denounced Barça’s situation.

Our youth sections have also been hit by two of our most promising prospects, Alejandro Grimaldo and Sandro Ramirez, suffering knee injuries which has sidelined the pair for the rest of the season. Grimaldo’s ligament injury is particularly nasty and following his operation last Saturday the initial estimates say he will need seven months to recover. If you add to this the possible fine for the flare that was let off at the recent cup game with Madrid and Victor Valdés’s four match ban for his strop at the Bernabéu it has been a pretty miserable time at Can Barça. Some of us were hoping to gain a bit of schadenfreudian joy from a game in Manchester this week but a Turkish referee put an end to that. I couldn’t help recalling Mourinho famous rant at referees:  ¿Por qué Undiano Mallenco? Por qué Pérez Lasa? Por qué Cüneyt Çakır?

barcelona 7-1 bayer leverkusen messi goalWith morale at a low ebb we now face two games in four days at Camp Nou against Deportivo de La Coruña and AC Milan. Given our eleven point lead at the top of La Liga, the two-goal deficit we need to overcome in the Champions League and the relative difficulty of the games, it would surely be wise to give priority to the Champions League and simply use the Deportivo game as preparation. In this sense I am hoping we rest as many players as possible tomorrow. I know we have not had a midweek game this week but we want to have our key men as fresh as daisies to face Milan. At the same stage of the Champions League last season Leo Messi scored five in the 7-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen just days after being forced to miss the game with Sporting Gijon through suspension. I don’t care whether he feels he can play every game, in this case Messi should be kept straining at the leash, or perhaps even put in a straightjacket and tied to a bed until Tuesday.

It’s fair to say that when we were forced to field a weaker team at Riazor earlier in the season the result could have gone either way, though ten-man Barça held out for a thrilling 4-5 victory. Of course, a victory tomorrow is the best possible way to prepare for Milan, but Depor are bottom of La Liga without an away victory all season, and tomorrow they will be without their top scorer Riki. Surely we can still beat them with a second string XI. Besides Messi, there should at most only be a place on the bench for the likes of Iniesta, Busquets, Piqué, Puyol and Jordi Alba.

Our situation isn’t helped by Xavi being in a race to get fit for Tuesday or by Marc Bartra picking up an untimely injury. Bartra would have been perfect for tomorrow’s game but perhaps now in order to keep Puyol and Piqué rested we will finally see a return for Eric Abidal to partner Mascherano in defence. The other logical thing would have been to recall Marc Muniesa to the first team but the only B team player training with the first team has been Jordi Masip who will be our substitute goalkeeper. So, I’m hoping we’ll get an emotional return for Abidal and a win to get us in the right mood for the big one on Tuesday night.

Possible teams:

Barça: Pinto; Montoya, Mascherano, Abidal, Adriano; Thiago, Song, Fabregas; Alexis, Villa, Tello.

Depor:  Aranzubia; Sílvio, Aythami, Insua, Ayoze; Paulo Assunçao, Abel Aguilar; Bruno Gama, Valerón, Pizzi; Nélson Oliveira.

Prediction: Barça 4 Deportivo 1

Date: Saturday 9 March 2013. Kick off: 8 pm local time.

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7 Responses to Preview: FC Barcelona vs Deportivo de La Coruña (game 27 liga 2012/13)

  1. barcacentralomer says:

    @Nic: Isn’t Grimaldo the teenaged LB that a lot of people have been raving about? Hope the injury is not career threatening or hampers the development of this exciting youngster. I agree its not exactly been a cheerful week for Barca fans. Frustrating is perhaps the best word to describe our current predicament. Tito’s illness and the unrealistic expectations from Roura, poor transfer dealings in the summer being compounded by injuries and suspensions,dismal performances in season defining fixtures and Real peaking at the wrong time as far as we are concerned.

    However, I do think its times like these and how we respond to such situations that define a team’s character. We could crumble under the burden of expectations (similar to last season) and considering the near impossible task of winning 3-0 against Milan, it’d not be a surprise. Alternatively, Messi,Iniesta, Puyol, Pique and Co. need to rise to the occasion and play out of their skins to keep our CL dream alive. Roura’s team and/or Tito need to be very clear about how they plan to beat a very good Milan team that outplayed Barca in the first leg. I just hope they figure out who is going to play on the wings so that our toothless forward line can rediscover its scoring touch.

    Nic, you mentioned that some of our players like Messi and Xavi were not fully fit in the first leg of the Milan fixture. Would it be wise to again put out an unfit Xavi or any other player in such a critical match? Surely Roura has to stamp his authority now and put out the best XI to beat Milan instead of our best XI on paper.

    As for the Depor match, I wouldn’t mind seeing 11 changes because at this juncture in the season, the mission impossible against Milan supersedes 3 league points.

    • barcacentralnic says:

      Hi Omer. Grimaldo is indeed the left back you are thinking of. One of the most promising players in the cantera, at 17 he’d become an important part of Barça B this season and he’s already represented Spain at under-19 level.
      In the first game at Milan I understand it was Xavi and Fabregas (not Messi) who were not fully fit. I agree Xavi should only play on Tuesday if he’s fully recovered though he trained today for the first time with the group so he may have a chance. I think Xavi could be vital against Milan as our director of play. Without Tito we could do with somebody to take decisions on the field and Xavi is undoubtedly the best man to do that.
      On the Milan game: does anybody else think that given the circumstances it’s worth going for a defence of three?

      • barcacentralomer says:

        Nic I’m not sure if this game is one where we should try to execute Plan B. Moreover with our relatively slow CBs the tie could effectively be over if Milan hit us on the counter with an early goal. IMO we have to try to get Plan A right and put out the players that can help us achieve the near impossible against a Milan team that start as favourites in this fixture.

        Sandro Ramirez – not sure I can recall him. Nic please tell me he’s a quick, tall and promising CB who looks like he might break into the first team in a year or more….:)

        • barcacentralnic says:

          17-year-old Sandro has been banging in the goals as centre-forward for the Juvenil A team. He’s more a goalscorer in the Bojan mould than a false 9, and for this reason I’m not sure he will make it all the way to be a first team player with Barça. Perhaps the centre back you are thinking of is 20-year-old Sergi Gomez, currently with Barça B though he’s only played nine games this season.

  2. Pingback: Preview: FC Barcelona vs Deportivo de La Coruña (game 27 liga 2012/13) | robtisit

  3. bc9jaCule says:

    Hard times, indeed – what with all the other happenings you mentioned. However, you got me LOLing about Messi with your ‘put in a straightjacket and tied to a bed until Tuesday’ line. Seriously, I’m all for that too but, I’ll prefer a much-changed lineup with only brief cameos for Messi, Villa and Iniesta (as subs) for the Depor game so as to keep them match-refreshed and keep AC Milan guessing about our proposed match tactics. Going for a 4-0 win in our next two home games. Yes, against Depor and Milan!!!!!

    Visca Barca!!!!!
    Forca Barca!!!!!

  4. Caleb says:

    For me, best two players were easily Sanchez and Alves. It’s so good to see Alves have a performance that reminds me of when he first signed for us. Puyol, Masch, and Thiago also put in good games.

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