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The blaugranes retained their four point lead at the top of the table over Real Madrid thanks to Jérémy Mathieu’s second half winner on Sunday in the 1-0 win over Celta Vigo at Balaídos. A busy April fixture list means that Barça are back in action on Wednesday as they take on relegation threatened Almería at Camp Nou at 8.00pm CET.
Barça trained for the last time on Tuesday ahead of the clash with the Andalusians. Jordi Alba is still to receive the all clear from medical staff after picking up a hamstring injury on international duty last week. Sergio Busquets is suspended after picking up a yellow card late on in the game against Celta.
The 18 players named for the game are: Ter Stegen, Claudio Bravo, Montoya, Piqué, Rakitic, Xavi, Pedro, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Mascherano, Bartra, Sergi Roberto, Adriano, Dani Alves and Mathieu.
Almeria’s new coach, ex-blaugrana Sergi Barjuan, has named an 18 man squad for the trip to Camp Nou which contains two players from the club’s youth teams. Michel, Fran Vélez and Verza are missing due to injury and Argentine Dubarbier and Dos Santos both stay at home due to suspension.
Luis Enrique was clear about the seriousness of Almeria’s visit to Camp Nou in his press conference on Tuesday ahead of the clash: “If we want to win the league, then we have to make sure we win this game.” The Barça coach also joked about his former team mate Sergi taking over at the Andalusian club: “He’s a friend and I am often in contact with him. I am very glad that he’s been offered this opportunity and I hope he makes the most of it. But only from Thursday onwards!”
Barça’s win at the weekend in Vigo was their 19th victory in their last 20 matches since the defeat on 4 January against Real Sociedad in Anoeta. Almería have not won in their last seven league games and their most recent defeat, a 4-1 home reverse against Levante at the weekend, saw the club part company with coach Juan Ignacio Martínez.
Ones to watch
Jérémy Mathieu has scored twice his last two league games for Barça, helping the blaugranes to six valuable points in their quest to reclaim the league title, However, the Frenchman, if he does feature against Almería, will have to tread with caution as a booking on Wednesday will see him suspended for the game at the weekend against Sevilla. Almería have two former blaugranes in their squad to make the trip to Camp Nou - goalkeeper Rubén made three appearances for the first team back in the season 2003/04 before eventually leaving the club in 2007. Midfielder Javier Espinosa played more than 100 games for Barça B before leaving for Villarreal last summer and then joining Almería on loan in January of this year.
Almería have never beaten Barça in 13 official meetings, with two draws and 11 defeats their record in that time. In the league they have lost all five away games at Camp Nou, the latest being a 4-1 defeat last season in which Alexis, Messi, Carles Puyol and Xavi found the net for the blaugranes.
No matter where you are in the world we have you covered. And remember, you can enjoy live commentary in English on Radio Barça. The link will appear at fcbarcelona.com just before kick-off. Twitter users can follow @FCBarcelona for a live feed of all the action.
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