Paul White/Associated Press
Barcelona could be crowned as La Liga champions before they kick off against Deportivo la Coruna on Sunday at the Riazor.
Should Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid fail to pick up victories in their respective contests, then the Blaugrana would be granted a guard of honour in Coruna. But regardless of what goes on with the capital clubs, a point on the road would be enough for Ernesto Valverde’s team to get the job done.
They’re up against a Deportivo side that must win to keep their hopes of staying afloat in the top flight alive. They currently occupy 18th spot and are nine points back on Levante in 17th.
Read on for the latest team news ahead of this one, the crucial viewing details and a preview of what to expect in this showdown from Galicia.
Deportivo: Manager Clarence Seedorf saw his side draw 0-0 at Leganes on Friday and while they were solid in that encounter, he’ll demand more attacking intent from his side. Midfielder Sulley Muntari is a doubt, as are Federico Cartabia and Eneko Boveda.
Likely XI: Ruben Martinez; Juanfran, Raul Albentosa, Fabian Schar, Luisinho; Guilherme, Pedro Mosquera, Celso Borges; Lucas Perez, Adrian Lopez, Florin Adone
Barcelona: After seeing his side rip apart Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final last weekend, Valverde will be tempted to stick with the same sort of side as the Blaugrana seek to wrap up the title. Marc-Andre ter Stegen will return, while Sergi Roberto is suspended.
Date: Sunday, April 29
Time: 7:45 p.m. (BST), 2:45 p.m. (ET)
TV Info: Sky Sports Football (UK), beIN Sports (U.S.)
Barcelona have been playing amid a haze of disappointment since they were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League in surprise circumstances by Roma recently.
However, the lingering lull was lifted by a stunning performance in the Copa del Rey final, as Barca dominated Sevilla from start to finish to win 5-0. It was their best performance of the campaign and as an attacking setup, the most threatening the team has looked for a long time.
There was so much to admire. Iniesta starred, Coutinho continued his recent improvement in form and Suarez was a menace up top. But once again, it was Messi who pulled the strings; as we can see, he’s been so consistent down the years in front of goal:
The great man has enjoyed another remarkable year and when Barcelona had to battle through some matches earlier in the campaign, he was so often the difference.
Under Valverde even more responsibility has been thrust onto Messi. The Argentina international is tasked with being a creator and a scorer of chances, and in the main he’s relished those duties. He’ll be desperate to be decisive again in La Liga and seal the title.
It’d be harsh on the rest of the Barca side to call them a one-man team, though, as the Blaugrana are on the brink of history. They could become the first team in the top flight to go through an entire top-flight season without being beat, per Fans Bet:
🇪🇸 Longest unbeaten starts to a La Liga season: ✅ Real Madrid: 27 (1968/69) ✅ Real Madrid: 28 (1988/89) ✅ Real Sociedad: 32 (1979/80) ✅ Barcelona: 33 (2017/18) https://t.co/SNfyWXtnQm
While it’s only a matter of time before Barcelona are crowed champions, they will be a little wary of Deportivo this weekend. After all, the last time they visited the Riazor in the league they were beaten 2-1; in 2016 they Barca won 8-0 in this fixture.
Antonio Calanni/Associated Press
Seedorf’s side will battle in this one and since the former Netherlands international has come in there has been an upturn in form at the end of a miserable campaign that’ll surely result in relegation.
Barca are unlikely to let them off the hook here, as they’ll want to have secured the title ahead of the Clasico against Real Madrid next weekend. It may be tight, but they’ll get the job done.
Prediction: Deportivo 0-2 Barcelona