Classy Barca blank Deportivo

Classy Barca blank Deportivo

Football Spanish League: Catalan giants take a huge step towards retaining La Liga title

Classy Barca blank Deportivo

jubilant Barcelona’s Bojan Krkic (right) celebrates with team-mate Yaya Toure after scoring against Deportivo. AP

Saturday's 2-0 victory over arch rivals Real Madrid had put Pep Guardiola's side three points clear at the top and their latest crushing triumph extended their advantage to six ahead of Real's match at Almeria on Thursday. At a jubilant Nou Camp stadium, mid-table Depor became the latest of Barca's opponents to spend long periods chasing the ball as the peerless Xavi again ran the show in midfield.

Unfamiliar line-up
With striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and midfielder Andres Iniesta injured, Guardiola fielded an unfamiliar 4-2-3-1 starting lineup, with Bojan leading the line in front of Lionel Messi, Pedro and Jeffren.

Spain midfielder Xavi cracked open the visitors' defence to release Bojan to score from close range in the 16th minute before a spectacular overhead kick from the energetic Daniel Alves came back off the crossbar. Messi and Rafael Marquez also had efforts cleared off the line by defenders.

Pedro's goal in the 69th minute was easily the pick of the three. An attempted clearance from Daniel Aranzubia went straight to the 22-year-old and he lifted a spectacular first-time effort over the Depor goalkeeper and into the empty net from just inside the visitors' half.

Aranzubia had earlier kept Depor in the match with saves from Messi, Xavi and Jeffren but was beaten again three minutes later when Toure's powerful strike crashed in off a defender.

"This team fights hard and also tries to put on a spectacle which we have to be grateful for," Barca president Joan Laporta said in a television interview. "They look hungry and eager for matches and I have the same feeling as last season."

Barca have 83 points with six matches remaining. Real are on 77 with a game in hand and Valencia, who host Athletic Bilbao on Thursday, trail on 56 in third. Real Mallorca climbed above Sevilla into Spain's fourth Champions League qualification berth earlier on Wednesday when they drew 1-1 at struggling Real Zaragoza.

The Balearic Islanders have 52 points to Sevilla's 51 after the Andalucians' 2-1 defeat at relegation threatened Real Valladolid on Tuesday. Atletico Madrid, who play the first leg of their Europa League semifinal against Liverpool on April 22, suffered a shock 2-1 loss to bottom side Xerez.

A sixth win of the campaign for tiny Xerez, who are making their La Liga debut and have a budget about a 10th the size of Atletico's, puts them on 26 points with six matches left, still six from safety.  Racing Santander pulled away from the relegation places with a 3-1 comeback win at home to Espanyol, who had goalkeeper Carlos Kameni sent off in the 46th minute, and Osasuna twice surrendered the lead to draw 2-2 with visiting Malaga.