Barcelona football is back! After a full week of rest and training following the win at Villarreal, the La Liga leaders hope to stay unbeaten and open up a six-point gap at the top of the table. Deportivo La Coruña will provide the opposition on Sunday night at Camp Nou, and this is a match Barça should be winning.
There are two main reasons for that: first, Barça will be facing one of the worst teams in the league this season, a side that’s won just four games in the league and have scored just 18 times in 15 matches. Depor have been flirting with relegation in recent years, but it seems like this could be the season they go down if they don’t turn things around.
The second reason Barça should be winning this one is that they travel to the Santiago Bernabéu next Saturday for a little thing called El Clasico against Real Madrid. That game could mean the end of Madrid’s title challenge if Barça are able to win, so a victory against Deportivo will boost the team’s confidence ahead of the biggest game of the season.
MATCH INFO, TV/STREAMING
Date/Time: Sunday, December 17, 2017, 8:45pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 7:45pm GMT (UK), 2:45pm ET, 11:45am PT (USA), 1:15am IST (India, Monday)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Television: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), Sky Sports Football (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 2 (India)
Online streaming: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), Sky GO (UK), FuboTV (7-day free trial, click here to sign up)
(Listings via LiveSoccerTV)
Andrés Iniesta and Javier Mascherano are back, which is giant news one week before El Clasico. The two will probably not start in this one, but they might get a few good minutes in the second half to get ready for the game at the Bernabéu. For Sunday’s match, the only real doubt is whether or not Sergio Busquets starts. The midfielder is one booking away from a suspension and could miss next week if he gets a yellow card. My guess is that Valverde doesn’t start him, with Ivan Rakitic as the pivote.
Given Depor will come to the Camp Nou to sit deep and defend, Valverde will probably go with his three strikers up front: Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Paco Alcácer have played well together almost every time they all started, and against a poor La Coruña defense they could have a good night if Valverde decides to attack just a little bit.
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Vermaelen, Alba; Paulinho, Rakitic, Gomes; Messi; Alcácer, Suárez
Martínez; Juanfran, Schär, Sidnei, Navarro; Guilherme, Borges; Carles Gil, Çolak, Adrián; Lucas
Depor’s form is just too bad to cause Barça any real trouble: 2-0 to the hosts.