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Three talking points ahead of UD Almeria vs Barcelona



Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

The plan at Old Trafford did not fare well for Xavi Hernandez and his Barcelona side, bringing them to a second European elimination in the same season. While the Catalans’ form in Europe has been dismal, they have been a completely different monster domestically.

Barcelona return to La Liga action on Sunday night when they take on Almeria. With their 18-game unbeaten streak broken earlier in the week, the Blaugrana will be eager to get back on track and inch close to the elusive league title.

The spotlight, as usual, will be on the Barça manager who has taken questionable and costly decisions in recent games. That, coupled with the team’s injury concerns, spark a few doubts ahead of the clash at the Power Horse Stadium.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Barcelona vs Almeria.

1. The aftermath of a collapse

Losing can never be pleasant in sports, yet is an integral part of it without which there would be no meaning to it.

Barcelona’s loss to Manchester United was a difficult sight for the management and fans alike. There was a feeling that the Catalans had let go of a game that was in their grasp with inaccuracies at several levels.

For starters, Xavi’s poor decisions leading into the game at Spotify Camp Nou weakened the side and prevented them from taking a valuable lead at home. When they came back strong and took the lead at Old Trafford, an awful second-half display led to elimination.

The Blaugrana’s elimination from Europe is a disappointment and has undoubtedly affected the environment in the dressing room. While the glum mood and long faces are understandable, it is vital to maintain a grip on the situation.

Barcelona are still alive on two fronts and can finish the season with a domestic treble. With European fixtures off the table, the right planning and execution would render such an accomplishment achievable with ease.

The Catalans must turn up against Almeria as the league leaders and not the side that got eliminated midweek. Xavi bears the onus of keeping the team motivated, in good spirits and most importantly, undisturbed by their solitary defeat of the year.

2. Man management

Ronald Araujo could be given a breather by Xavi (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images)

After taking on Almeria on Sunday, Barcelona’s calendar is jam-packed with difficult fixtures. They must compete in three Clasicos, take on Valencia, Athletic Club and Elche all in a span of just five weeks.

Needless to say, the coming period is the most critical in determining the team’s success in terms of silverware. A perfect run over the next 40 days will almost guarantee Xavi’s men two more trophies. Thus, man-management becomes crucial.

Given the relatively easy game tomorrow and keeping Thursday’s Clasico in mind, Xavi could look to rotate on Sunday. Eric Garcia and Andreas Christensen could start in defence with one of Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo rested. At left-back too, one would expect Jordi Alba to return to the lineup for Alejandro Balde.

Gavi’s availability guarantees him a starting spot alongside Sergio Busquets in midfield. However, it would be a good time for the manager to give Frenkie de Jong some deserved rest with either Franck Kessie or Pablo Torre taking his place.

In attack, Ferran Torres is guaranteed a starting spot on the right wing. Robert Lewandowski will retain his place in a bid to regain his form while Sergi Roberto could start on the left side.

3. It could be ten

The Madrid Derby was the big talking point on Saturday night as Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone locked horns for the 20th time. The game had no compromise on action, with Los Rojiblancos scoring the opener with ten men.

The fixture ultimately ended in a 1-1 draw, with both sides sharing the draw. Neither party will be too happy with the result, but it comes as music to the ears of Xavi’s Barcelona.

With the defending champions dropping two more points on the night, the Catalans have the chance to take their lead at the top of the table to a whopping ten points with a win on Sunday.

Their opponents on the night, Almeria, are struggling in La Liga this season. The freshly promoted side hover dangerously in the relegation zone with just 22 points in as many games.

Almeria have lost 12 of their league games so far this term, winning just six times. Further, they have La Liga’s second-worst defensive record and have conceded a whopping 40 goals.

Barcelona are the heavy favourite at the Power Horse Stadium, and one can expect them to close the night with a double-digit lead over their arch-rivals.

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