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The odds for Almeria vs Barcelona are from the FanDuel Sportsbook, where new customers will receive a $1000 no-sweat first bet after creating an account.
Back Barcelona to win and over 2.5 goals this weekend. Almeria are struggling for form and Xavi Hernandez’s men will be keen to bounce back from European disappointment with a big win.
This has not been a good season for Barcelona on the continent. Before Christmas, they were eliminated from the Champions League in the group phase for the second season on the bounce. Xavi Hernandez’s men were handed a tough draw alongside Inter, Bayern Munich and Viktoria Plzen, but a third-place finish was still a source of major disappointment.
Barcelona thus dropped into the Europa League, the continent’s secondary competition. They instantly became one of the strong favorites to lift that trophy. But another tricky draw landed them with a tie against Manchester United in the knockout round play-offs.
After a pulsating 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou, Barcelona went down 2-1 at Old Trafford on Thursday. That ends their participation in Europe this season. From now on, Barcelona will be fully focused on domestic prizes, namely the La Liga title and the Copa del Rey.
They are at least going strong in Spain’s top flight. Going into the weekend Barcelona have an eight-point lead over Real Madrid. But the key question is whether the Blaugrana can get over the defeat by Manchester United quickly. Were the loss at Old Trafford to kick-start a downturn in form, Barcelona could allow Madrid, the defending champions, back into the race.
So far, though, their record in La Liga is formidable. Of the 22 matches they have contested, Barcelona have triumphed in 19. They have lost just once - the first Clasico of the campaign at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
The best online sportsbooks have Xavi’s side down as strong favorites to finish in first place, but the Barcelona boss knows there is still a long way to go this season. A win this weekend will be crucial to keeping the La Liga leaders on course.
Almeria are where most La Liga followers expected them to be after 22 rounds of fixtures. The Rojiblancos won promotion last term as champions of the Segunda Division, edging out Real Valladolid due to a superior head-to-head record.
Survival was their only objective at the start of the season, and that remains the case six months on. If the campaign were to end today, Almeria would have realized their goal - but only just. They are currently outside the relegation zone on goal difference alone, with 18th-placed Cadiz having the same number of points (22) to their name.
Just a few short weeks ago, Almeria were daring to dream of something more. A 3-1 home victory over Espanyol at the end of January lifted them up to 11th in the standings. The more optimistic members of the club’s fan base began to wonder whether a top-half finish might be possible.
Things have not gone to plan since then, however. Almeria have lost each of their three matches in February, including a 6-2 thrashing by Girona last time out. Another negative result this weekend would see Almeria drop into the bottom three, unless Cadiz are defeated by Rayo Vallecano and Valencia fail to beat Real Sociedad.
Rubi, the manager who led Almeria to promotion last year, has plenty of credit in the bank. But this is a club that has not always been the most patient with its managers, and falling into the bottom three could leave the 53-year-old in a vulnerable position.
Having embarked on a return trip to the northwest of England as recently as Thursday, Barcelona would no doubt have preferred to be at home this weekend. But while Almeria is not exactly close to the capital of Catalonia, in soccer terms this is a reasonably kind fixture.
Rubi’s side have struggled defensively this term, and that is something Barcelona look primed to exploit. Almeria have shipped a total of 40 goals, which means they have the second-worst defensive record in the division, behind only Elche in last place.
They have a more productive attack than many of the teams around them in the table, but Almeria will find it tough to penetrate a Barcelona backline which has been breached just seven times in La Liga. Not many Spanish sides have managed to score against Xavi’s team in 2022/23.
As long as they do not suffer a hangover from their Europa League exit, this should be a pretty straightforward encounter for Barcelona.
Xavi will want to see a response from his players, and that will encourage them to go on the attack in a bid to register a comfortable victory over the relegation strugglers. We like the look of an away win and over 2.5 goals, which is available with FanDuel at -102.
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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