Depor look to end Barca's away run
In-form Deportivo La Coruna striker Adrian Lopez is optimistic his side can cause Barcelona plenty of problems at the Riazor on Saturday night - even though the Primera Division pacesetters boast a perfect away record this season.
Barca make the trip to Galicia having won all eight of their league games away from the Camp Nou while scoring 29 goals and conceding just four - all comfortably the best statistics in La Liga.
That success has helped Barca build a two-point lead at the top of the table, and with second-placed Real Madrid facing a testing home clash against third-placed Villarreal this weekend, Pep Guardiola's men could extend that advantage if they can topple Depor.
Depor have improved dramatically over the last few months, though, and in striker Adrian have a player with five goals to his name in 2011 already having struck both goals in last weekend's impressive win at Athletic Bilbao and then following it up with a Copa del Rey hat-trick against Cordoba.
Adrian concedes Barca will be no easy nut to crack, but has warned the reigning Spanish champions not to expect an easy game.
"They are without doubt the best team around at this moment," he said in La Voz de Galicia. "(But) we need to give it everything and I'm sure that we are going to give them many problems."
Like Depor, Barca also progressed to the quarter-finals of the cup on Wednesday night after a 1-1 draw at San Mames saw them knock out Athletic on the away goal.
Spain playmaker Xavi made a club-record 550th appearance for Barca in that match, and the World Cup winner is hoping there will be many more to come.
"I'm very happy and proud to wear the Barca shirt, which for me is everything and I can't imagine wearing any other," he said. "I feel very privileged. Now I need to continue forward and continue winning titles."
Barca's away form this season is matched only by Real Madrid's home form, and Jose Mourinho's side will be hoping to extend their long winning streak with a triumph over Villarreal.
Madrid have won each of their last 16 competitive matches in front of their own fans stretching back to last season, and if they can notch up number 17 on Sunday then they would move 11 points clear of Villarreal.
Madrid will again be without prolific forward Gonzalo Higuain, who next week will undergo surgery on a back injury that has kept him sidelined since November and is likely to keep him out of action until towards the end of the season, while the Yellow Submarine are missing injured duo Nilmar and Marcos Senna.
If Villarreal slip up in Madrid then fourth-placed Valencia can close the gap on them to two points if they can defeat city rivals Levante on Sunday night. Villarreal saw off Valencia 4-2 in their Copa del Rey last-16 tie on Thursday.
In other games, Malaga will be hoping the arrival of five new faces during the winter transfer window can help them defeat Athletic while Sevilla travel to Real Sociedad looking to make it four competitive wins on the trot - having lost six and drawn the other of their previous seven games.
Real Mallorca will be out for revenge when they host Almeria. Almeria dumped Mallorca out of the cup on Thursday after recording a 4-3 second leg win on the Balearic Island.
In other games, Osasuna play Getafe, Real Zaragoza go to fifth-placed Espanyol and Racing Santander meet Sporting Gijon, for whom coach Manuel Preciado is under increasing pressure following a 12-match run without a victory in league and cup.
On Monday evening, Hercules meet sixth-placed Atletico Madrid.