Barcelona arrived in Deportivo ahead of their game at the Riazor on Sunday.
The Blaugrana can mathematically secure their La Liga title with a win or a draw against the 18th placed-side.
Barcelona’s 22-man squad included right-back Sergi Roberto’s name in it, although he won’t be able to play after picking up a card in Barca’s 2-2 draw against Celta.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 29, 2018
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) April 29, 2018
The Spaniard has enjoyed almost an unparalleled career littered with the highest trophies during his stay at the Catalan club ever since he moved to La Masia in 1996 as a 12-year-old old.
Born in the small Fuentealbilla village in the Albacete province of Spain, Iniesta started his footballing journey with Albacete Balompie before joining the Spanish giants. After 22 years at the Camp Nou, Iniesta will leave Barcelona with four Champions League, eight La Liga and six Copa del Rey winners’ medals, among other countless trophies.
As his time at Barcelona comes to an end, tributes for Iniesta have been pouring in from all quarters. However, none of them may be more special than the one paid by his grandfather.
Watch below as the gifted midfielder’s grandfather opens up about Iniesta’s move to Barcelona as a boy and how it has all panned out in his career.
After the sadness of Andres Iniesta’s confirmation that he is leaving Barcelona, the Catalan club are now hoping to put some smiles back on their faces by wrapping up the league title with four games to spare by avoiding defeat at relegation-haunted Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday night.
Barca need just a point to ensure finishing as champions, and that should be a formality against a weak Deportivo team which is on the brink of the drop.
Let’s take a look at the key talking points ahead of the clash at the Riazor (22:45 GST).
Iniesta’s farewell tour
Now there is no more room for doubt: the legendary Iniesta will be leaving Barcelona at the end of the season after 31 trophies (soon to be 32) and nearly 700 appearances.
The final few weeks of the 33 year-old midfielder’s stay in Spain will be an emotional farewell tour, with the World Cup winner’s popularity throughout the country guaranteeing he will receive a hero’s welcome in Barca’s remaining away games at Deportivo and Levante.
But Iniesta isn’t quite yet ready to relax into testimonial mode because his ninth La Liga title is still up for grabs. A draw or victory this weekend will be enough to seal the deal, regardless of what Atletico Madrid do earlier on Sunday.
Barca shouldn’t have to rely on others, though, and Iniesta is expected to play from the start as coach Ernesto Valverde fields his strongest XI in pursuit of another trophy.
Messi managing his minutes?
Lionel Messi is also certain to start, but over the next few weeks it will be fascinating to see whether the Argentina star sits out the occasional game in order to keep himself as fresh as possible for his impending World Cup exertions.
A major international trophy is the only gap on Messi’s CV, and he is desperate to make amends to that statistic before his Argentina career comes to an end – which he has intimated could be as soon as this summer.
But Messi loves to play and is extremely unlikely to accept the idea of sitting on the sidelines for the next few weeks to protect himself for his country. With silverware available he will definitely be in from the beginning on Sunday night, but if Barca move into a comfortable lead by the middle of the second half the sensible thing would be for him to be substituted. But is he prepared to be sensible, or will he just keep on playing?
Once upon a time there was Messi, Iniesta and Xavi— Goal (@goal) April 28, 2018
Now there's just Messi
End of an era 😢 pic.twitter.com/Vj0PzCOSHJ
Deportivo down and out?
If the game becomes an occasion of celebration for the visitors, it would also be a time of commiseration for the hosts, with Deportivo knowing that anything less than a victory would condemn them to relegation.
In fact, coach Clarence Seedorf and his players know that only an extremely probably sequence of results will keep them in the top flight, with Deportivo needing to win all four of their remaining matches while also hoping that Espanyol and Leganes both lose all theirs.
This has been a desperately disappointing campaign for the Galician team, who have never really looked capable of avoiding the drop. Former Real midfielder Seedorf is Depor’s third manager of the season, but his arrival in February really came far too late to rescue a squad which is badly lacking in quality or direction, and it’s no surprise to see their four-year stint in the Primera Division heading into its final 90 minutes.