'Babydepor' snapping at heels of distracted Barca

November 2, 2006
By Mark Elkington

MADRID, Nov 2 (Reuters) - After a physically and mentally bruising 2-2 draw with Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday, the last thing Barcelona need is a trip to face Deportivo Coruna in the Primera Liga on Saturday.

Frank Rijkaard's league leaders were denied victory by Didier Drogba's stoppage time goal on Tuesday which leaves them with an uphill battle to qualify out of the group stage.

But it is the psychological damage which perhaps hurts more. They have been wound up by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho's antics, and claims from opposition players that they dived and cheated.

'We should try and forget about this game now,' said Barca's Brazilian midfielder Thiago Motta.

'We need to get back on track and think about Depor who are tough opponents. They are up near the top and playing well.'

Depor coach Joaquin Caparros, whose sides are typically aggressive and abrasive, will have watched Chelsea with admiration as they used whatever means available to disrupt Barca's flowing attacking football.

Caparros's side, who are seventh, have been dubbed 'Babydepor' by the Spanish press for the youthfulness of their new-look side, but they are far from innocent.

They have won all four league games at home and have not conceded a goal in the Riazor since August 27. They specialise in smothering opposition midfields and hitting opponents on the break.

They will relish the chance to prove themselves against a Barca side who have lost two of their last three away games in all competitions.

With Samuel Eto'o still out injured and Eidur Gudjohnsen struggling with an ankle injury Rijkaard might look to Argentine Javier Saviola to lead the line.

Waiting in the wings should Barca slip up are Sevilla, who are a point behind in second, and third-placed Real Madrid who are two points adrift.

UEFA Cup holders Sevilla are at home to the side who denied them a place in the Champions League last season, Osasuna. Real host Celta Vigo.

Both Sevilla and Real, who qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League after beating Steaua Bucharest 1-0 on Wednesday, are unbeaten at home.

An improving Real Zaragoza are only three points behind the leaders in fourth, and they take on another of the form sides of the moment, Getafe, who are sixth.

Valencia, level on points with Zaragoza in fifth, visit struggling Espanyol on Sunday having secured their passage into the Champions League last 16 with a 2-2 draw away to Shakhtar Donetsk.