Spanish Primera Division preview
Lionel Messi is backing Barcelona to end their dip in form and extend their lead at the top of the La Liga standings.
Last Updated: 08/03/13 10:47am
Barcelona have suffered a blip of late with a 2-0 defeat by AC Milan in their Champions League last-16 first leg tie and back-to-back El Clasico losses against rivals Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final reverse and also in the league.
However, Messi believes the root of the problem has been pinpointed and Barca will be looking to put that into action this weekend against rock-bottom Deportivo ahead of their crunch European clash against Milan at the Nou Camp next Tuesday.
"We obviously need to give a little bit more. We have been losing recently but we know what we have to do to change things," Messi told the club's official
"Losing hurts. We'll try to get over this situation. There's a very important match (against Milan) on the way. We know what the problems were in the games we lost. We talk about these things in the dressing room, and that's where they'll stay."
Messi also admitted the illnesses faced by coach Tito Vilanova and Eric Abidal have affected the squad. Vilanova has undergone treatment for throat cancer while defender Abidal has been recovering from a liver transplant.
"It affected us a lot and I think it has had its toll on the way we've performed in competitions," Messi said.
Barca will be without goalkeeper Victor Valdes for the meeting with Deportivo after he was banned for four games for insulting the referee following the 2-1 La Liga defeat at Real Madrid.
Valdes was shown a straight red card after confronting the referee at the final
whistle when Barca were not awarded a late penalty for Sergio Ramos' challenge on Adriano Correia.
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid were given a boost this week ahead of their match against Real Sociedad when coach Diego Simeone agreed a new four-year deal with the club.
The news comes after speculation has linked the former Argentina international with a high-profile summer move after his successes at Atletico, which include winning the Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup in the first six months of his tenure
The Rojiblancos are currently second in the Primera Division standings, 11 points behind Barca but two ahead of Madrid rivals Real.
Real Betis play Osasuna on Friday night while Saturday sees Rayo Vallecano face Espanyol, Real Valladolid are at home to Malaga and Sevilla will be looking to build on their comprehensive win over Celta Vigo at Real Mallorca.
On Sunday, Athletic Bilbao take on Valencia in the early kick-off before Levante host Getafe and Celta Vigo are at home to Real Madrid, while Real Zaragoza host Granada on Monday.