Deportivo La Coruna v Barcelona: Title hopefuls likely to welcome back big names
After resting a host of big-name stars in the Copa del Rey in midweek, Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique looks set to recall his key men for Sunday's La Liga visit to Deportivo La Coruna.
Boasting a 5-0 first-leg advantage over Elche in their last-16 tie, Barca gave the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez the night off on Thursday in a bid to keep players fresh for this weekend's game.
The Catalan giants coped comfortably without their high-profile absentees, running out 4-0 winners at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero to seal their progress to a quarter-final tie with Atletico Madrid by a 9-0 aggregate scoreline.
With Real Madrid leading the way in La Liga by one point and having played a game less, Barca will be desperate not to lose any further ground on their fierce rivals, with Carlo Ancelotti's side set to travel to Getafe earlier on Sunday.
The likes of Sergi Roberto, Adama Traore and Rafinha all impressed during the Copa win over Elche, and Luis Enrique knows the importance of having strength in depth as Barca continue to fight on three fronts.
"We are a big enough squad and I believe all my players are in perfect condition to deal with the calendar we have ahead of us," he said.
The Barca coach will be further boosted by the news that influential midfielder Xavi - who has missed the last three games with a left calf strain - returned to training on Friday, despite having not yet been medically cleared.
The last time Barca visited the Riazor, back in October 2012, Messi netted a hat-trick in a thrilling 5-4 success for the men from Camp Nou, who were on their way to romping to the title by 15 points under the leadership of the late Tito Vilanova.
One man eagerly awaiting Sunday's clash is former Barca man Isaac Cuenca.
The Spain Under-21 international departed Camp Nou for Deportivo in the close-season and is relishing the opportunity to test himself against some familiar faces.
"This isn't a typical week for me, everyone is asking me how I feel to be facing my old team," he told Barca's official website.
"I'm happy to be going up against my ex team-mates and the colours I used to wear.
"I think all the tickets are sold out. It's been a while since we've hosted Barça, and you can tell that we're about to face one of the best clubs."
While Barca, as is customary, continue to challenge at the summit, Deportivo's target this season is to secure their top-flight status after being promoted as Segunda Division runners-up last term.
Victor Fernandez's men currently lie 16th, just a point above the bottom three, but a third successive home league win would prove a major boost for their survival hopes and leave a dent in Barca's title ambitions.