Deportivo de La Coruña - FC Barcelona: Race heats up as pressure mounts champs

The race in La Liga has never been tighter than it has been all season and Barcelona now have a must win to continue being in the race.

Deportivo de La Coruña - FC Barcelona: Race heats up as pressure mounts champs
Photo Source: VAVEL

FC Barcelona didn't know it would come down to this but they travel to La Coruña to take on Deportivo de La Coruña at Riazor in a must win if they want to continue to challenge for not only the La Liga title, but a possible double with their Copa del Rey final happening soon against Sevilla.

Nevertheless, this is a crucial game for Luis Enrique's men if they want to consider their season successful following their elimination in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals at the hands of Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona's story

The defending Spanish league champions are coming off a streak of three matches without getting a win: Real Madrid at home in a 2-1 loss, Real Sociedad away in a 1-0 loss and just a few days ago against Valencia at home in a 2-1 loss. This puts their lead at the top of La Liga in jeopardy as they are now tied with Atletico Madrid on 76 points and have a one point lead over Real Madrid. 

With five matches left in the season, Luis Enrique knows that his team is confident to beat Deportivo. "The first thing we want is to win at Depor and grow our confidence," the manager said. "Winning away is always difficult," he added. Enrique knows that if confidence does continue to build, that they can still win the league.

The statistics, however will go well for Lionel Messi, who went around 500 minutes without scoring a goal before scoring his 500th career goal on Sunday against Valencia.  In the last two visits there, he has two hat-tricks: the first in a 5–4 victory in the 2012-13 season, and the second, which occurred last season, in a 4-0 victory.

Luis Enrique. Photo: MARCA
Luis Enrique. Photo: MARCA

La Coruña's story

Meanwhile, the hosts currently sit on 38 points in 14th place and are looking to make a shock in order to deny Barcelona a chance on a second straight La Liga title, making the race in Spain as hotter as it is before. Deportivo forward Lucas Perez thinks that this match will be special and could become a decider. "We can decide La Liga. The destination will be told,'' Perez said. He added, "I knew the league would be decided in May.'' 

Lucas Perez. Photo: AFP
Lucas Perez. Photo: AFP

Predicted Lineups

Barcelona (4-3-3): Bravo; Alves, Bartra, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar

Deportivo (4-2-3-1): Manu; Laure, Sidnei, Navarro, Pablo; Mosquera, Borges; Juanfran, Fajr, Cani; Lucas