Lionel Messi will be fired up for Deportivo clash

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Barcelona get back to league action after confirming their progression in the Copa del Rey.

A relatively easy win against Atletico Madrid in the last league game may have come as a surprise, but the Rojiblancos will have an immediate chance for revenge as they meet again in just a few days time in the cup quarter finals.

Luis Enrique needs to ensure that minds are fully focused on Depor beforehand because another poor performance against a lower-ranked side will likely see the end of Lucho’s tenure.

He’ll certainly be hoping that the Catalans don’t ship four goals like they did on their last visit to the Riazor.

Let’s take a look at three things that may shape the outcome to this game…

Barca to give youth a chance?

Although this is a league game that has to be won, Barca will be expecting to progress in the Copa del Rey at the expense of Atleti.

To do so, Barca will need to be at their very best and need their very best on show. To avoid any untimely injuries to their star players, Luis Enrique could see this as a chance to play a few of the fringe and young players.

Such a tactic could well backfire on the Blaugrana, and Depor will be no pushovers on home soil.

With the return of the Champions League on the horizon too, this could be the last chance for a while that the likes of Munir and Sandro get to add to their minutes on the pitch.

Ballon d’Or disappointment to fire up Messi

Make no mistake, Lionel Messi wanted to win unprecedented fifth Ballon d’Or. The friendly hand shakes and smiles are fooling no one.

With Ronaldo just one behind his nemesis, Messi has a spur again to push on and write more history in a years time. To do so, he needs to push on immediately and Depor remain one of his favourite opponents.

A hat-trick on this ground in the last meeting could well be repeated if the home side aren’t touch-tight throughout.

Spain’s best defence

Often lauded for their attacking prowess, rarely do the Catalans receive the plaudits for their defensive efforts.

It’s almost gone unnoticed that Claudio Bravo has conceded just eight league goals all season.

There isn’t another team in the league that is anywhere close, so even if Neymar, Messi and Suarez have an off day up front, it’s unlikely the home side will break through to get a very opportunistic three points.

Whether the combination includes Pique, Bartra, Mascherano or Mathieu shouldn’t matter. All have been excellent throughout this season as their defensive record indicates.

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La Liga
Lionel Messi
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