Evening all! Sports Mole
's live La Liga coverage continues from the Riazor as Deportivo La Coruna
welcome the league leaders Barcelona. Struggling Deportivo are currently 12 points adrift of 17th-placed Levante, and will be relegated tonight if they fail to win. As for runaway league leaders Barcelona, a point would be enough to see the Catalan giants crowned league champions. Quite a lot to play for in this one then! Stay tuned for live updates of the action!
Barcelona recorded a 4-0 victory in the reverse La Liga fixture at Camp Nou earlier this season, but Deportivo actually ran out 2-1 winners in the corresponding match last term. Indeed, now Newcastle United forward Joselu was on the scoresheet for the home side on that occasion. That said, the success last season was Deportivo's first over Barcelona since the 2007-08 La Liga campaign.
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from the Riazor. Both sides have had a free week to prepare for this match, with Barcelona not in mid-week Champions League action following their incredible elimination to Roma in the quarter-finals.
DEPORTIVO: Ruben; Juanfran, Albentosa, Schar, Luisinho; Borges, Guilherme, Krohn-Dehli; Colak, Lucas, Valle
BARCELONA: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Coutinho; Dembele, Suarez, Messi
Deportivo boss Clarence Seedorf
has made a couple of changes from the team that started their goalless draw with Leganes last time out. Borja Valle comes into an attacking position for the home side, while Michael Krohn-Dehli is also handed a starting role in midfield. Lucas Perez and Emre Colak also start, but Florin Andone and Fede Cartabia are both on the bench in La Coruna.
As for Barcelona, Sergi Roberto once again misses out through suspension, while Andres Iniesta is on the bench following the news that the midfielder will be leaving the Catalan giants at the end of the season. It is still a very strong XI, however, with Ousmane Dembele joining Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in the final third of the field. Philippe Coutinho also starts for the league leaders in La Coruna.
So there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 40 minutes from kickoff at the Riazor. I shall speak about the home side a little bit later, but let's start with league leaders Barcelona. As mentioned, a point would be enough to see Valverde's side land the title tonight.
Indeed, Barcelona, who won the Copa del Rey courtesy of a 5-0 win over Sevilla last weekend, currently sit eight points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid with two games in hand. A point is enough to secure the title, but the visitors will surely be looking for all three. A quite incredible 2017-18 La Liga season has seen Barcelona win 25 and draw eight of their 33 fixtures - no defeats!
Barcelona, who are bidding to win La Liga for the 25th time in their history, had to watch Real Madrid land a league and Champions League double last season, but Ernesto Valverde
is on the verge of claiming the title in his first season as head coach. Roma incredibly knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals, but the Spaniards have been sensational domestically.
It will not come as a surprise to learn that Barcelona have the best away record in Spain's top flight this season - winning 11 of their 17 matches. They have scored 38 times on their travels, and conceded 11, which is also the best offensive and defensive away record in La Liga. Atletico and Real Madrid have simply been unable to match the form of the Catalan outfit this term.
In terms of what is ahead for Barcelona, they have the small matter of El Clasico at home to bitter rivals Real Madrid next weekend. It does appear that Valverde's side will arrive in that match as champions, which will be difficult for Real Madrid to take. Barcelona will then take on Villarreal (H), Levante (A) and Real Sociedad (H) in their final three matches of the 2017-18 campaign.
As for Deportivo, the home side will be mathematically relegated from Spain's top flight if they fail to win tonight. Indeed, anything other than a victory for Clarence Seedorf's side would mean that they would be unable to catch 17th-placed Levante in their final three matches of the campaign.
Deportivo have just not been good enough this season, with a total of 28 points leaving them down in 18th position in the table. They have only won six of their 34 matches - suffering 18 defeats in the process. To be honest, Seedorf's side need an absolute miracle to survive. Or in other words, it is not going to happen. A win tonight, though, would give their fans some relief!
Deportivo were relegated to the Segunda Division at the end of the 2010-11 campaign, but bounced straight back. They then returned to the second tier for the 2013-14 season, and have been present in each of the last four La Liga campaigns. It will be very interesting to see what happens this summer because there is absolutely no question that a number of players will leave.
Here we go then; both sets of players have joined us on the pitch ahead of kickoff in La Coruna. Just a reminder that a point is enough for Barcelona to win the title, and that result would relegate Deportivo from the top flight. Huge night of football ahead, and you can follow the action right here!
KICKOFF! Barcelona kick things off in La Coruna...
... there is a really good atmosphere inside the stadium tonight, which is excellent to see. Deportivo did indeed give Barcelona the guard of honour, but it was over in the flash. We are now over to the football, and as expected, the away side have had the ball in the first couple of minutes.
Good pressure from Barcelona in the last couple of minutes as they force the issue. Coutinho looks to combine with Messi inside the Deportivo box, but Schar just manages to clear.
Deportivo are pressing high up the field at the moment, with neither Semedo nor Pique given time to settle on the ball. You do get the feeling that the home side need to score first tonight if they are to have any chance of picking up a positive result. Decent enough first six minutes for Deportivo.
GOAL! Deportivo 0-1 Barcelona (Coutinho)
Barcelona make the breakthrough in the seventh minute of this match as Dembele picks out Coutinho inside the Deportivo box, and the Brazilian curls the ball into the far corner of the net!
This could be a long, long night for Deportivo. Just a reminder that a point is enough for Barcelona to win the league, while anything other than a Deportivo win relegates the home side.
Barcelona continue to force the issue as Dembele finds space in a wide position before delivering towards the head of Messi, but Juanfran manages to make the clearance. The pressure is constant at the moment as Deportivo struggle to get out of their own half. All Barcelona.
Not too much to report in the last couple of minutes, with Barcelona bossing the possession without really threatening to score a second. Deportivo are just absorbing the pressure here.
The rain is falling in La Coruna, which should make the pitch nice and quick. I am not sure that is great news for Deportivo when considering that Barcelona do not need help zipping the ball across the turf. That said, it has been a decent last couple of minutes for the home side.
GOAL DISALLOWED! Oh my word! Deportivo thought that they had levelled, with Perez even being allowed to celebrate when he fired home from close range. But the flag is finally raised! Perez had touched home after Ter Stegen had kept out a header from Schar!
Deportivo are still furious with the fact that Perez's goal was disallowed. Seedorf is still involved with discussions on the touchline, and we are yet to see a reply of what actually occurred here.
BOOKING! Schar (Deportivo) is booked for a foul on Coutinho.
It was actually Albentosa that headed towards goal moments before Perez converted, and the offside call looked very tight indeed. No goal, and Barcelona still lead 1-0 in La Coruna.
Rakitic misses the Deportivo post with a wild strike from the edge of the box.
The rain continues to fall in La Coruna as the first period gathers pace. Barcelona are currently passing and probing in the final third, but Deportivo have defended quite well since the goal.
Bit of possession for Deportivo in the last couple of minutes as they move higher up the field. Perez has been bright for the home side tonight, while Borja has also threatened. The latter has just attempted to run behind Pique, but the offside flag sees Barcelona resume with a free kick.
Valle misses the Barcelona goal with an effort from outside the box.
Messi heads wide of the Deportivo box following smart work between Alba and Suarez.
Schar is a touch fortunate to escape a second yellow card for a late challenge on Messi. The referee has done the Deportivo centre-back a big favour by not producing another booking there.
SAVE! Stunning save from Ruben to keep out a Messi free kick!
Coutinho just places the ball wide of the post as Barcelona move through the gears here.
Colak lifts the ball over the Barcelona crossbar as this match continues to produce good moments at both ends of the field. I would be astounded if we had seen the last of the goals, and another opportunity arrives when a cross is delivered towards Valle, but the striker pokes wide!
Super defending from Semedo as the Barcelona right-back heads a Krohn-Dehli cross wide of the post. There has been nothing wrong with Deportivo's performance since the opening goal here.
CHANCE! Schar heads over the Barca crossbar from close range!
Deportivo continue to bite into challenges, and Luisinho is a touch fortunate to escape a yellow card for a rash challenge on Semedo, who has been very good for Barcelona thus far tonight.
GOAL! Deportivo 0-2 Barcelona (Messi)
Barcelona double their advantage in La Coruna, and it is a wonderful Messi goal as the Argentine volleys a stunning Suarez cross into the bottom corner of the net. Unreal technique there!
Barcelona are heading for the Spanish title, while Deportivo are heading into the second tier. It is going to be a very tough second 45 minutes for Deportivo and their supporters tonight.
GOAL! Deportivo 1-2 Barcelona (Perez)
Oh my word! Deportivo are right back in this football match as Guilherme delivers a dangerous low cross into Perez, who finds the bottom corner with a super finish. Game on here!
Deportivo have come to play tonight, and you have to fancy that they will score at least once more. The problem, however, is that they are leaving all sorts of space down the other end.
It must be said that this has been a wonderful first 45 minutes of football. Barcelona are on course for the title, but Deportivo have made a real game of it in the opening half. I would be very surprised if we had seen the last of the goals with both attacks looking so dangerous tonight.
HALF-TIME: Deportivo 1-2 Barcelona
Peep! What a super first half of football from the Riazor. Barcelona led 2-0 courtesy of goals from Coutinho and Messi, but Perez answered back for Deportivo to leave the match delicately poised ahead of the second 45 minutes. It has been a throughly entertaining game of football here.
STATISTICS! Barcelona dominated the first-half possession with 66%, while they had nine attempts - four of which were on target. Deportivo had six attempts, however, and hit the target on two occasions. Just the one yellow card to report in the first half - Schar in the 20th minute.
BENCH WATCH! Barcelona boss Valverde has a wealth of attacking options on his bench tonight, with Paulinho, Iniesta, Alcacer, Denis Suarez and Vidal all available. Deportivo, meanwhile, have the likes of Andone, Fede, Muntari and Mosquera in reserve. Plenty of talent on both benches here.
RESTART! Deportivo resume the action here...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in the mind as the second period develops here.
Barcelona have started the second period on the front foot with Alba and Semedo advanced down the wings. This could be a very difficult half for Deportivo if the visitors manage a third early.
Half-chance for Barcelona as Messi delivers a low cross towards Suarez, but Ruben does well to make the claim. Deportivo are finding it difficult to get out of their own half at the moment.
CHANCE! Wonderful football from Barcelona as Messi finds Coutinho before the Brazilian returns the favour, but Messi just turns the ball wide of the post. Great move!
Deportivo manage to break out of their own half, with Perez attempting to meet a pass from Borges, but Pique does well to make the clearance. Good tempo to the match here.
SAVE! Ter Stegen is on hand to keep out a strike from Perez.
Little over 30 minutes of football remaining, and little over 30 minutes until Barcelona are confirmed as champions for the 2017-18 campaign. A point is enough for the Catalan giants, and anything other than a Deportivo win will see the home side relegated. Huge final half hour!
BOOKING! Semedo (Barcelona) is booked for a foul on Luisinho.
Coutinho shuffles the ball wide to Suarez, who delivers a dangerous cross into the Deportivo box, but Schar is on hand to clear. The ball then breaks for Pique, who does a number of kick-ups in a wide position. Fantastic skill, but I am not sure that the home side's supporters appreciated it.
Half-chance for Barcelona as Umtiti meets a corner from Messi, and he heads just over.
GOAL! Deportivo 2-2 Barcelona (Colak)
Oh my word! Deportivo level the scores in the 64th minute of this match as Colak smashes the ball past Ter Stegen following excellent work from Borges! Game on here!
A point is enough to secure Barcelona to the title, but Deportivo are pressing here!
Little over 20 minutes of football remaining, and you just get the feeling that something big is going to happen in the latter stages. I would not bet on this one finishing 2-2 here!
BARCELONA SUB! D.Suarez replaces Dembele for the away side.
Guilherme's strike from distance misses the Barcelona crossbar as Deportivo press.
SAVE! Ter Stegen is down to keep out a header from Valle!
A point is no good for Deportivo, and they are seriously putting the pressure on Barcelona as we approach the final 15 minutes of action. Deportivo are doing a Roma on Barcelona at the moment.
CHANCE! Luis Suarez hits the side-netting following super work from Messi!
BARCELONA SUB! Paulinho replaces Coutinho for the away side.
Still no movement on the Deportivo bench, but Seedorf must be considering alterations as we head for the final 15 minutes of action. Just a few signs that Barcelona are regaining control.
Guilherme misses the Barcelona crossbar with a strike from distance.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Messi to send Barcelona back ahead following a mistake from Deportivo, but the Argentine sees his effort blocked by two diving defenders.
SAVE! Super Ruben save to keep out a low Luis Suarez strike!
GOAL! Deportivo 2-3 Barcelona (Messi)
Oh that is stunning! Stunning from Messi and Luis Suarez as the two players combine inside the box before the former finds the back of the net. They were playing their own game there!
DEPORTIVO SUB! Guilherme is replaced by Muntari for the home side.
Little over five minutes of the second period remaining, and I am still trying to get over that wonderful Messi goal. The work between Messi and Luis Suarez was out of this world.
GOAL! Deportivo 2-4 Barcelona (Messi)
Messi has his hat-trick as the Argentine races onto a through pass from Luis Suarez before finding the back of the net. Those two are at it again in La Coruna!
DEPORTIVO SUBS! Fede and Andone replace Borges and Borja.
BARCELONA SUB! Iniesta replaces Rakitic for the away side.
Half-chance for Deportivo to strike back as Fede delivers a low cross towards Schar, but the centre-back cannot make contact, and Barcelona avoid conceding a third goal late on.
SAVE! Stunning save from Ruben to keep out a close-range effort from Pique, who just had to score after meeting a low cross from Luis Suarez. Wow!
We are into the second of two additional minutes at the end of the 90 here.
FULL-TIME: Deportivo 2-4 Barcelona
Barcelona have won the 2017-18 La Liga title courtesy of a 4-2 victory over Deportivo La Coruna at the Estadio Riazor. The Catalan giants entered the match knowing that a point would be enough to seal the title, but claimed all three in La Coruna to move 11 points ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid
with a game in hand.
Barcelona, who have won La Liga for the 25th time in their history, had to watch Real Madrid land a league and Champions League double last season, but Ernesto Valverde has claimed the title in his first season as head coach. The result has also mathematically relegated Deportivo from Spain's top flight, with Clarence Seedorf's side now unable to catch 17th-placed Levante in their final three matches of the campaign. What a night of football from La Coruna!
So there we have it. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live La Liga coverage once again. Barcelona are champions, and Deportivo are heading down. Until next time!