Deportivo La Coruna earned a 2-2 draw against La Liga champions Barcelona to secure their survival on the final day of the domestic season. The Blue and Whites were 2-0 down to Barcelona, but pulled off a miraculous comeback that has kept them in the division against all odds. While supporters and players rejoiced after securing survival, the contrast in yearly objectives over the last decade is staggering.
10 years ago, Deportivo were competing in the Champions League, and did the league double over Real Madrid. Times have changed considerably, with two top-flight relegations suffered (2010/11 & 2012/13), and points tallies all below their usual 60-point marker. Prior to the more current dark days, Deportivo were competitors in the division, regularly finishing strong in the top-half of the table, and performing well in European competitions.
Deportivo even won La Liga title in 1999/2000, and were runners-up the following season, which also saw them make it to the Champions League quarter-finals – navigating their way past Juventus (Italian Serie A), Paris Saint-Germain (French Ligue 1), AC Milan (Italian Serie A), and Galatasaray (Turkish Super Lig). Victories in the league against Barcelona and Real Madrid were not uncommon given the talented squad they had at their disposal, but they are light years away from those heady heights.
In recent years, survival has been a trophy in itself, and finishing level on points with Eibar, who suffered relegation, is a situation supporters must be distraught to be in. Deportivo will be remembered by many supporters as the surprise package side who dispatched of such heavyweights as Bayern Munich (German Bundesliga), Manchester United (English Premier League) and AC Milan (Italian Serie A) in the European competition in 2003, and their reputation was greatly enhanced as a result.
Past glories will serve them no good now. Survival has been accomplished, but there is little guarantee as to whether Deportivo can survive again next season. Goals were incredibly hard to come by over the course of the campaign, with their top scorer Lucas Perez managing just 6 goals. Few stood out in the Deportivo side, and manager Victor Sanchez pulled off a miracle keeping them afloat after being given just a month in his new job to secure their top-flight status.
Sanchez was in the side that won the 1999/2000 title, and is now managing them during a delicate period. There are not many top sides who have suffered such a high-profile fall from grace as the White and Blues, but for now they can enjoy their survival.