No margin for error for Barcelona

Barcelona went from euphoria to the bitter taste of a shocking defeat at the hands of Deportivo La Coruna, leaving their titles hopes in the balance.

The Catalan club produced one of the finest moments of their illustrious history, staging an incredible comeback to defeat Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 at the Camp Nou to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Luis Enrique’s men overturned a four-goal deficit from the first leg, with Sergi Roberto netting the decisive strike in the 95th minute.

However, Barca went from the ecstasy of that night to the lowest of lows just days later at the Estadio Riazor, suffering a 2-1 loss at the hands of struggling Deportivo, with goals from Joselu and Alex Bergantinos handing Pepe Mel’s men the victory.

The result leaves Barcelona two points off the pace of Real Madrid at the top of the Primera Division, with Zinedine Zidane’s men boasting a game in hand on their rivals. Consequently, the Catalan club are being backed in the latest La Liga betting odds at 2/1 to retain their crown.

Luis Enrique’s side will need to be flawless in their remaining matches of the campaign – none more than their crucial El Clasico encounter with Real at the Bernabeu.

Given that Madrid could hold a five-point advantage at that stage of the season – it’s vital that the club take all three points from that fixture to close the gap.

This season’s race for the title could turn out to be just as close as last term’s when Barca edged out Real by a single point, while Atletico Madrid were just three points off the pace and involved in the battle until the bitter end.

That experience will stand Enrique and his players in good stead, although a few members of the squad that could be called upon are yet to taste glory with the Catalan club.

Samuel Umtiti, Denis Suarez, Paco Alcacer and Andre Gomes all arrived at the Camp Nou this year, drawing mild criticism for their performances this term.

Gomes has drawn particular ire for his ineffectual outings, putting huge pressure on Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Arda Turan in and around him in the side to pick up the slack.

At the age of 32, Iniesta is at the point of his career where he cannot be expected to deliver week in-week out, especially due to the volume of matches Barca will play at the end of the term.

To win their third crown on the bounce, Enrique’s men will need one of their younger talents to make their mark in the middle of the park, proving that the future is in good hands.

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