Despite the downturn in Barcelona's fortunes, President Sandro Rosell has praised covering manager Jordi Roura: "For me he’s a hero. We have to thank him for the responsibility he’s taken on because it’s something that was unexpected. The coaching staff and the players, who are carrying a heavy burden." That mental weight is certainly showing, but it's on a physical level that the team is struggling.
"They are very competitive and when things do not work out, the group is downbeat for two days, but no more. I see Messi and the whole team as very focused going into tomorrow’s game and looking forward to overcoming Milan," said Roura in the press conference. The fact he singled out his star performer shows the power of the Argentine within the group dynamic, as player power is beginning to take hold without the presence of a genuine leader.
Fernando Vázquez is the third manager of Deportivo's season, though change has done little in transforming the club's fortunes. Eight points from safety and just one win in the previous seventeen games, they need a minor miracle to escape relegation to the Segunda.
The daft red card for Victor Valdés for protesting after the final whistle against Real Madrid means the goalkeeper will be missing for the next four league encounters, so José Manuel Pinto will deputise. Xavi is back in training, though is unlikely to be risked with Milan on the horizon.
Deportivo are without two first team centre-backs, Kaká and Carlos Marchena, so Vázquez has a selection dilemma. The likeliest solution would be Aythami returning to the middle to partner Zé Castro with Evaldo slotting in at left-back.
It's been a rare couple of weeks in the recent history of the Catalan side. Three losses in the last four matches is not something you expect from a team that has reached such heights.
Last week's home draw with Rayo Vallecano broke a run of six consecutive defeats for Depor and brought their first clean sheet since the 5 January, when they beat Málaga.
The last time the clubs met at the Camp Nou they drew 0-0. Deportivo would snap your hand off if you offered them a repeat, which can be found at a tempting 50.00.
Leo Messi might not be at his best - a frightening thought when you consider he has scored in 15 league games in a row. Messi is 2.75 for first goalscorer, having netted five of the side's last six goals.
It's Barcelona, but not as we know it. Jordi Roura is struggling and the team are desperate for Tito Vilanova to return. The players are running the show and lacking in ideas, but they should comfortably see off a poor Deportivo side at 1.13.
Barça have conceded in the last thirteen matches, and have only failed to score once. Both teams to score is 1.75.
Score prediction: Barcelona 3-0 Deportivo (10.00)