ALMERIA

v

FC BARCELONA

Saturday, September 28, 18:00 GMT

Estadio Juegos Mediterráenos, Almeria

***

FC Barcelona will travel to the Juegos Mediterráneos in matchday 7 of La Liga, still looking to keep their perfect record in La Liga intact and Real Madrid at bay. Almeria, on the other hand, are still looking for their first win of the season, a sort of form that is definitely not encouraging ahead of such a difficult match. Messi and co. definitely start this match as clear favorites, but they will be going against history in a way; never in the club’s history have they won all seven of their first La Liga matches – a win at Almeria would mean the best ever start in La Liga for the Catalans, which might serve as an extra incentive for the team.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Almeria

The newly promoted Almeria have been struggling a lot so far in La Liga, with three draws and three losses from six matches, and no wins yet. Playing Barcelona will certainly not make it any easier to finally notch a win; manager Francisco Rodriguez has recognized that there’s a massive difference in potential between the two sides and that he’d sign up for a draw  before the match. Unfortunately for Almeria, they will really have to play and somehow find a way to contain the Catalan juggernaut if they are to get anything from this match.

Franciso Rdriguez is likely to opt for a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Esteban in goal, Christian, Trujillo, Pellerano and Rafita at th back, shielded by Tebar and Verza; Helder Barbosa, Soriano and Vidal will play behind the sole striker Rodri. From a tactical and strategical point of view, Almeria are really not left with much choice, they will have to defend a lot and at a very high level all throughout if they are to have any chance, and try to take advantage of quick counterattacks when they have the chance. Given that they are one of the worst defenses in La Liga, that’s a pretty mighty ask, it will take a lot of inspiration and sacrifice; everyone will need to defend and help close down Barcelona, including the wingers and even Rodri.

It is unlikely, to stay that least, that Almeria get their maiden win of the season against Barcelona; their squad is arguably the weakest in La Liga, but in terms of competitive attitude and fighting spitrit they are just as good as anyone and they won’t just roll over, but rahter force Barcelona to earn their victory.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Esteban; Christian, Trujillo, Pellegrano, Rafita; Tebar, Verza; Helder Barbosa, Soriano, Vidal; Rodri

FC Barcelona

The Catalans are chasing history at the moment; a win at Almeria will see them record to best every La Liga start in the club’s history, with 7 wins from 7 matches. It’d certainly be a testament to Gerardo Martino’s work if he did manage to pull it off, even if it’s just the strt and no guarantee of winning the title in the end. Alth0ugh this match isn’t among the toughest on paper, Almeria can’t be underestimated, especially away from home.

Martino has promised to continue rotating his squad, but a lot of key members are expected in the lineup as (almost) always. Lionel Messi is basically a lock to start, but any other 10 players (Valdés aside) could potentially be given a rest. In principle though, Barcelona will play with Valdés in goal, Adriano, Piqué, Bartra – replacing the injured Mascherano – Busquets, Fabregas and Iniesta in midfield – with an aging Xavi sitting this one out – Pedro, Neymar and Messi up front. From a strategical point of view, there’s really not much to say, it will be pretty much the same in every Barcelona match: Tata Martino’s side will be looking to control possession and create gaps in the Almeria defense from the very first minute and never let up their pressure. An early goal could simplify matters to a great extet, otherwise this could potentially turn out to be a pretty trick match.

With Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid facing each other this weekend in the Madrid derby, Barcelona will be even more anxious to win this match, as an upset in the Madrid derby – a frankly possible scenario considering the form of both teams at the momet – will allow them to start opening a slightly significant gap at the top of the league.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Victor Valdés; Adriano Correia, Gerard Piqué, Marc Bartra, Daniel Alves; Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, Andrés Iniesta; Neymar, Pedro Rodriguez and Lionel Messi

Key Match Facts

  1. Barcelona have won their last match at Almeria 8-0 in the 2010/2011 season.
  2. Barcelona have only lost one of their past 25 away La Liga matches.
  3. Almeria have scored 2 goals in each of their first three home matches of the season so far.

Player to Watch Out For

Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

FC Barcelona

Will he wreak havoc this weekend as per usual?

 

The world’s best player was unusually wasteful against Real Sociedad and when that happens he usually follows it with a great performance and goals. It has become common place to expect something sensational from Messi in every single match, but that is even more the case when he’s on the back of a slightly sub par performance – for his standards of course.

Prediction

Almeria 0-3 FC Barcelona

This will end up being a pretty comfortable match for Tata Martino’s side, especially after the first goal is scored. Almeria’s defense has simply now shown the organization and quality that is required to deal with Barcelona, and they should not pose too big a threat.

Blast from the Past