Competition news


17 Dec 2017
Depor face one of the toughest games of the season with Parralo losing Andone and repeating a lineup that has barely changed since his arrival. Valverde has changed the scheme at Barca and the team has gained stability.

Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz
Kick-off: 20h45 CET (Camp Nou)

FC Barcelona are currently at the top of la liga, not only in terms of points added, but in the major part of the statistics. They, together with Atlético Madrid, are the only undefeated teams in the competition. The Catalans are also the best defense after only allowing 7 goals and, at the same time, are the best offense with 38 goals in favour. They also present the best mark in terms of ball possession (61%) and number of passes (9,913).

This is the last game that FC Barcelona is going to play at the Camp Nou during 2017, Los Cules have disputed 28 home meetings in the year and managed to get 24 victories. Their only loss at home during the year was in the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid (1-3, August 13).

Depor have only got points in 10 of their 45 league visits to the Camp Nou, but the recent history is quite positive with Los Blanquiazules picking three draws from the last five games played there, last year they lost 0-4 and in the previous two games the score ended in a 2-2 draw with Depor coming back from a two-goal deficit in both opportunities.

Cristóbal Parralo has demonstrated to be a coach that likes consistency. Despite he already used two systems in his six liga games coaching Deportivo, he has barely made changes. In his first three games in charge of the team, he only made one modification and it was for the injury of Juanfran Moreno.

And in the next three games, the former coach of Fabril only made two changes, one was for another injury (Adrian for Bakkali) and the lonely one for tactical reasons was the entry of Emre Çolak for Fede Valverde, movement that switched the draw from a 4-3-3- into a 4-2-3-1. Now Parralo is ready to repeat, once again, the lineup after the victory over CD Leganés, though there’s the doubt if he will allow the inclusion of Luisinho at the left-back position, the Portuguese is returning from a hamstring injury.

Man to watch: Striker Adrian López. The most in-form player at this point wants to demonstrate that he can have an impact in the scoresheet when Depor are playing on the road (all of his three goals and two assists took place at the Riazor). In his 250th appearance at Primera, the Asturian is returning to the field where he scored his first goal at the elite ten years before (March 31, 2007 – he was 18 at the time).

Team news: Florin Andone wasn’t picked for the game after picking an adductor muscle injury during Saturday’s session. Luisinho is on the roster after been out for three weeks. The other players staying at the injury room are Fede Cartabia and Gerard Valentín, while Pantilimon, Saúl and Bruno Gama are the men out for tactical reasons.

Picked players: (18) Rubén Martínez, Tytoń (goalkeepers); Juanfran, Albentosa, Sidnei, Schär, Luisinho, Navarro (defenders); Fede Valverde, Borges, Guilherme, Pedro Mosquera, Çolak, Bakkali, Carles Gil (midfielders); Adrián, Lucas Pérez & Borja Valle (attackers).

Predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Rubén Martínez – Juanfran, Schär, Sidnei, Navarro – Guilherme, Borges – Carles Gil, Çolak, Adrián – Lucas Pérez.

New coach Ernesto Valverde was under heavy fire after his team was totally surpassed by Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup played in August, many journalists were talking of “the end of an era” and the beginning of a new one for Real Madrid. Four months later the Catalans rule in la liga with a five-point lead over the second place and an eight-point difference with the Madrilenians.

And somehow Valverde managed to balance the situation despite the problems that he met in the way up, star Neymar left in a surprising transfer to PSG, striker Luis Suárez had a poor run in October with only one goal scored in five appearances, Ousmane Dembélé, whose transfer is costing €150 million, only played 51 minutes before suffering a long-term injury, while Lionel Messi, after a strong start, has slowed down his production of goals.

One of the main things that Valverde did in order to gain that balance was to strengthen midfield territory. An extra midfielder was added, something brought a little more consistency. Valverde admitted that losing Neymar was not part of his plans and that his departure forced a rethink. It offered the opportunity to reinforce midfield, to tilt the balance a little: not the way some puritans would prefer, but back towards the centre. Thus, the team plays now with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-1-2 figure leaving behind their classical 4-3-3.

Team news: Playmaker Gerard Deulofeu is a last-minute casualty after suffering a knee injury during Friday’s training. The other players out for injury reasons are forward Ousmane Dembélé (torn hamstring), centre-back Samuel Umtiti (muscle) and centre midfielder Rafinha Alcántara (knee). Meanwhile, centre-back/midfielder Javier Mascherano and playmaker Andrés Iniesta will are available for the match after surpassing their injuries.

Man to watch:  Striker Luis Suárez. The Uruguayan is in an awakening process after been criticized by his lack of form.  He already netted seven goals in liga, four of them conquered within his last four appearances in the tournament. He has scored five goals in four meetings against Depor, curiously none of them playing at the Camp Nou.

Picked players: (19) Ter Stegen, Cillessen (goalkeepers); Semedo, Piqué, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, Vermaelen (defenders); Mascherano, Pauilinho, Rakitić, Busquets, Iniesta, Denis Suárez, André Gomes, Aleix Vidal (midfielders); Messi, Suárez & Paco Álcacer (attackers)

Predicted lineup: (4-3-1-2) Ter Stegen – Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Vermaelen, Jordi Alba -  Rakitić, Busquets, Iniesta – Paulinho – Messi, Suárez.



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