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Just three days after the disappointment of being knocked out of the Europa League by Manchester United, FC Barcelona return to La Liga action on Sunday at 6.30pm CET. Almería are the opposition, with the Catalans chasing an extraordinary eighth win a row in the domestic championship.
Already a huge eight points clear at the top of the Liga table, Barça now have the chance to take the difference into double figures after second placed Real Madrid were held at home by their neighbours Atlético Madrid on Saturday.
Last season's second division winners Almería are back in the top flight after a seven-year absence. But things haven't being to great for them so far. They are currently third from bottom in La Liga, and as well as crashing out of the Copa del Rey to little Arenteiro, and they've won just one of their last eight eight fixtures.
However, it's their away form that's been particularly woeful, including a 6-2 drubbing in Girona last week. They've been somewhat harder to beat at the 15,000 capacity Power Horse Stadium, the venue for all six of their wins this season, and for 19 of their 22 points.
So the fact that they have home advantage in this fixture is reason to believe that it may not be quite as straightforward as the respective league positions of the two sides suggests.
Head to head
This will be the fourteenth league meeting between the sides, and Almería are still looking for their first win. Barça have won the last seven of those games, including a spectacular 8-0 win on the road in 2010, and also comfortably won both legs of their Copa del Rey meeting in 2011.
The first meeting for seven years was at Spotify Camp Nou earlier this season, Barça winning 2-0 thanks to second half goals from Ousmane Dembélé and Frenkie de Jong.
Almería coach Joan Frances Ferrer, known as Rubi, has particularly unfond memories of games with Barça. His record of seven games and seven defeats is the second highest for any manager without ever claiming a single point against the blaugrana.
With key players Ousmane Dembélé and Pedri already out through injury, the problems in the goal creation and conversion sector got worse this week with the news that Ansu Fati got hurt in training and won't be making the trip to Almería. Ronald Araujo returns to the squad after sitting out the 2-0 defeat of Cadiz last Sunday through suspension. The Uruguayan did take a knock against Man Utd, but thankfully it turned out to be nothing serious.
"They're at home, where they've picked up a lot of points, so this will be a tricky game. We need to put Thursday behind us and concentrate on the league, where we're in a very strong position."
"I have a good feeling about Dembélé. He's not back to one hundred per cent, but he's almost ready to train with the squad again. But we won't force things. Ansu has a bruise but nothing more. We should have him back for Thursday"
"We need to pick out Lewandowski in the area better. We're missing that last pass, good crosses, we need to find him."
"We didn't go out of Europe because of lack of fitness or attitude. It was in football aspects where we were lacking. But we have to make sure not to let it affect us. The sun still came up yesterday."
"I think Ferran Torres has clicked. He has gained confidence and the other day was one of the best games he's ever played. We need him to make a difference."
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