PREVIEW | Almería v FC Barcelona

PREVIEW | Almería v FC Barcelona

After Girona lost on Tuesday, this game is the perfect opportunity to virtually secure second spot in the league table

The 4-2 defeat to Girona less than a fortnight ago put a serious dent in Barça's chances of claiming second spot in La Liga and a place at next season's Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. It meant that their fate was no longer in their own hands. As long as Girona won their four remaining games, then there was nothing Barça could do.

But in a matter of days, things have swung right back into Barça's favour. Not only did Girona only draw at Alavés at the weekend, but they were then beaten at home by Villarreal on Tuesday night. In between, Barça did what they had to do by beating Real Sociedad 2-0 on Monday, and could now go as many as four points clear at the top by winning away to Almería in Thursday's 9.30pm CEST kick-off at the Power Horse Stadium.

That wouldn't be enough to mathematically clinch second quite yet, but with just two more games to come afterwards, it would leave Xavi and his troops in a very, very strong position indeed.

The opposition

It's been a miserable season for Thursday's hosts, Almería. They have been rooted to the bottom of the table since week five, and on April 27 the inevitable was confirmed. They'll be playing second division football next season.

Following the news, they went on and won just their second game of the season, 1-0 away to Rayo Vallecano. They also won at Las Palmas in March but they have yet to win a single game in front of their home fans. And they only have two more chances to do so.

With the pressure off, Almería could be a very dangerous rival indeed. Indeed, they were anything but easy to beat at the Estadi Olimpic earlier this season, twice equalising after first Raphinha and then Sergi Roberto had given Barça the lead, with Roberto also scoring the 83rd minute winner.


Unafraid to take on the big teams, Almería led in both of their games against Real Madrid but ultimately lost, and also managed to let a 2-0 lead at Girona fall out of their hands.

The turbulent year Almería has seen the club get through no fewer four managers. After the departures of Vicente Moreno, Alberto Lasarte and Gaizka Garitano, the latest man in the hot-seat is the seasoned veteran Pepe Mel.

Head to head

Traditionally, Almería have not had too much trouble in games against the Andalusian outfit. Between 2010 and 2022 they put together a streak of nine straight wins, scoring an average of 3.6 goals a game, a tally very much boosted by the 8-0 and 5-0 routs of the 2010/11 season.

But in this fixture a year ago, Barça tumbled to an expected 1-0 defeat, the only goal of the game scored by El Bilal Touré, now of Atalanta.

Team news

FC Barcelona travel south with a full squad other than the long-term absentees Alejandro Balde and Gavi. However, in an intense week with three games in the space of just six days, including a particularly gruelling encounter with Real Sociedad on Monday, the coach has hinted that in need of fresh legs and to combat fatigue, he will be rotating his players a little for this one.

Xavi says

"Our fate is in our own hands and the goal is clear" said coach Xavi Hernandez on Wednesday. "We need to finish second even though that was originally a minimum target. We are thinking about prestige, but also finances, and especially because we want to be involved in every competition next season."

"But it won't be easy. When you look at Almería, they deserved a lot more. And now they can afford to relax because they have nothing to lose. They have competed very well against some of the biggest teams in the competition and will want to win at home to bring some joy to their fans."


Força Barça
Força Barça

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