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FC Barcelona host Almería this Saturday at 9pm CET in the last game at Spotify Camp Nou before the World Cup break. And it’s sure to be a very special occasion because it is the last ever for club legend Gerard Piqué, who announced on Thursday that he is leaving the club where he won no fewer than 30 different major trophies.
Last year’s division two champions are back in the top flight for the first time in seven years, and after a slow start have moved away from the relegation zone with three wins at home, although the Andalusians’ away form has remained disappointing.
In 14 meetings in the league and cup over the years, Barça have never lost to Almería and have always won when playing with home advantage. So, at least on paper, this is a very good chance for the Catalans to add another three points to their collection, and in doing so, give Piqué a winning send-off.
How it stands
Barça got into the game just one point adrift of Real Madrid, after the league leaders were held at home by Girona last weekend. A win would put Barça top of the table for at least two days, with Madrid playing Rayo Vallecano in a local derby on Monday night.
Both Eric Garcia and Andrea Christensen return for this one, but that’s isn’t the end of Barça’s trouble in defence, with Ronald Araujo, Jules Kounde and Sergi Roberto all missing.
Striker Memphis remains unavailable, and Franck Kessie hurt his hamstring against Plzen midweek and is probably going to be side-lined until December.
Minutes before the game, a huge banner reading 'Sempr3' (For3ver), playing with his iconic shirt number, will be unveiled on the Spotify Camp Nou field.
The Barça team will all be wearing Piqué's name on their backs as they come out of the tunnel. And the video scoreboard will show a special video in commemoration of a player that the fans are sure to want to give the very best send-off possible.
Speaking about the game, the Barça boss said "we know Rubi is a great coach, and he knows us well. He may got for a 4 or 5 man defence. They have a good midfield and are very good at home. They're quick."
But naturally most of his pre-game press conference was about one man: Gerard Piqué. But he offered no clues as to what role the centre-back will play in his plans:
Did you know?
Almeria is the team that Barça have faced the most times in La Liga (12) without ever losing once. And Barça have never failed to score in a game against the red-and-whites.
Almería have not won a game away from home since they beat Córdoba in the second division way back in February.
Don’t be too alarmed if Almería score first. A massive 67% of their goals this season have come in the first half, but after the break they have a tendency of dropping off.
Watch out for Gonzalo Melero. As a Levante player, he scored twice against Barça.
Almeria manager Rubi has faced Barça six times in the past (all in charge of other clubs). So far, he has lost every time.
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