La Liga leaders Barcelona will look for their 20th win in the league when they travel to face 18th-placed Almeria on Sunday.
Catalan giants Barcelona are all set to square up against relegation-threatened Almeria on Sunday. The league leaders will face a struggling outfit as they search for their 20th league win. Meanwhile, the hosts will look to cause an upset and move out of the drop zone.
Rubi’s men will host the league leaders in search of their seventh league win. They will have to punch above their weight to get the job done against a clinical Barcelona outfit. Almeria have only managed 22 points out of their 22 matches so far this season.
They have struggled of late, with just four points out of their last five fixtures. Rubi’s team are on a three-match losing streak and will give it their all to avoid yet another defeat. Almeria are level on points with 17th-placed Getafe. And a win over the leaders will help them crawl out of the drop zone. It will also boost their morale for the remainder of the season.
However, they are heading into this encounter on the back of 6-2 hammering at the hands of Girona. Rubi will look to have a better outing against Xavi’s men on Sunday.
Meanwhile, visitors Barcelona are on a dream run in the league. They are on a winning streak like no other. The Catalan giants have managed to claim 59 points out of a possible 66 so far. They are eight points clear at the top and will look to extend their lead when they square up against the relegation-threatened outfit.
Xavi’s men are the second-highest-scoring team in the league, having found the back of the net on 45 occasions. They are only behind Real Madrid, who have netted 46 goals. Barcelona also have the best defensive record in La Liga, having conceded only 7 goals so far.
But Barcelona are heading into this encounter on the back of a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester United. They have been knocked out of Europe and will now shift their focus to the league, where they have a sizable lead over second-placed Real Madrid to get the job done.
The Catalan giants have won each of their last seven La Liga fixtures against Almeria. When the two teams met earlier in the season, Barca came out on top with a 2-0 win at Camp Nou. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this fixture and tries to analyse the tactics they could deploy.
Team News & Tactics
Rubi will be without the services of Alejandro Pozo, who is ruled out due to a muscular problem. Apart from this, the home team do not have any other injury or suspension to deal with.
💬 "We are confident and we can win against any team".
🎙 You can watch Largie Ramazani's statements on our YouTube channel. pic.twitter.com/q7Vycxwcla
— UD Almería (@UDAlmeria_Eng) February 24, 2023
However, the manager might make a few changes to the XI that lost 6-2 against Girona. Arnau Puigmal and El Bilal Toure are expected to return to the starting eleven.
The home team are expected to start with a 4-3-3 formation. Fernando Martinez will start in goal. Houboulang Mendes, Rodrigo Ely, Srdan Babic, and Chumi will be the back four.
The midfield three will comprise of Lucas Robertone, Cesar De la Hoz, and Samuel Costa. The front three will see Puigmal, Luis Suarez, and Toure.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Martinez; Mendes, Ely, Babic, Chumi; Robertone, De la Hoz, Costa; Puigmal, Suarez, Toure
Xavi will be without the services of Ansu Fati, who picked up a knock in training. Ousmane Dembele has recovered from injury but is not a hundred percent yet. He will also miss out on this fixture alongside Pedri, with the duo not in the travelling squad. Gavi will return after serving his suspension in the Europa League.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 25, 2023
Xavi will also start with the 4-3-3 formation. Marc-Andre ter Stegen will start in the goal, while Jules Kounde and Jordi Alba will be the full-backs. Marcos Alonso and Ronald Araujo will pair up in the centre of the defence.
Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, and Franck Kessie will make the midfield three, with Sergio Busquets in the holding role. Raphinha will start on the right wing trying to cut inside on his left foot. Ferran Torres will take on the left-hand side while Robert Lewandowski will lead the line.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Alonso, Alba; de Jong, Busquets, Kessie; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Torres
- Since 2007, Barcelona and Almeria have locked horns 15 times across competitions. The visitors have been unbeaten so far and have come out on top 13 times.
- Barcelona have found the back of the net at least twice in their last ten meetings against Almeria.
- Barcelona have won their last seven league games against Almeria. And, they have kept a clean sheet on six of those occasions.
- The Catalan giants have won their last six away games in La Liga.
- Barcelona have the best defensive record in the league having conceded just seven goals in 22 outings.
Player to Watch
Lewandowski will be disappointed after failing to help Barcelona go past Manchester United in Europa League. While he did score from the spot, the Polish striker will be eager to do better and help his team claim all three points.
La Liga’s top scorer (15 goals) would love to get himself on the scoresheet yet again and extend his lead at the top. However, it will be difficult for him because of the low block Almeria is expected to present before him.
Almeria 0-3 Barcelona
Almeria, who are fighting for survival in the ongoing edition of La Liga, have lost their last three league games. They have ended up on the wrong side in their last seven league fixtures against the Catalan giants. While they are expected to stay deep in their half and look to defend, Barcelona still might be way too good for them.
Xavi’s men will look to bounce back from their disappointing loss against United with a win in the league. They are expected to go all-out attack against Rubi’s mean. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-0 win for the league leaders.