Barcelona seek Deportivo morale boost

Barcelona will be out to earn a morale-boosting victory ahead of the crunch Champions League showdown with AC Milan when they play Deportivo La Coruna.

Lionel Messi, Barcelona

Three significant defeats in their last four games marks Barca's worse run in five years and has led to speculation that the Catalan giants' reign as football's most dominant power may be coming to an end.

However, midfielder Cesc Fabregas insists the doom-mongers are wrong to write off a side who in the previous four seasons have picked up 14 trophies and are still in contention for two more this campaign.

In La Liga, they remain 11 points clear at the summit despite last weekend's 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid, while in the Champions League they face a tough but not impossible task after losing the away leg of their last-16 tie against Milan 2-0.

The return leg is at the Nou Camp on Tuesday and Fabregas is in bullish mood ahead of that encounter.

He told reporters: "We're not going to kid ourselves. Tuesday's game is the most important. Everyone believes we can turn the tie around.

"It's a little bit unfair that after just three games people are doubting this team. Football is not that simple. Things aren't finished after three games, and three games isn't enough to start anything."

Looking ahead to the Milan game, the Spain international added: "Whenever we play without using our heads it goes badly. It's not good to just play with passion and try to score. We need to take care, if they score one, we'll need four.

"We need to believe in our team."

Barca will expect to get back to winning ways tomorrow against a Depor side who have even bigger problems, lying rock-bottom of the standings and looking set for an immediate return to the Segunda Division.

They at least managed to end a six-match losing streak with last weekend's goalless home draw with Rayo Vallecano, but they are still eight points adrift of safety.

With only 12 games to go Depor need victories, and that is what coach Fernando Vazquez is aiming to pick up at the Nou Camp.

"Nobody is thinking about a draw, we're thinking about winning," said Vazquez, who is not reading anything into Barca's poor recent results and expects Jordi Roura's wounded side to come out all guns blazing.

"They're going play at tremendous speed. We have to be better than against Rayo in terms of aggression.

"In possession they are a Ferrari, the team have to be ready for this speed."

He added: "Barca could still be champions of Europe and the league. It's true that the two defeats against Real Madrid and Milan have damaged them and I wish it was different, I wish they had beaten Madrid and Milan, as then we would have the chance of catching them napping.

"Now they will be more attentive, and it will be more difficult."

Vazquez insists he is not thinking of resting veteran playmaker Juan Carlos Valeron ahead of next week's derby against Celta Vigo but there is a question mark over the fitness of striker Riki, while Barca are set to be without Xavi and Marc Bartra through injury.



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