Saturday, September 28, 2013
Almeria vs Barcelona
Barcelona travels to Almeria on Saturday looking to record its 12th consecutive La Liga win.
The reigning champion has taken the maximum 18 points from its six fixtures so far in the top flight, scoring 22 goals and conceding just five in the process. This follows on from five straight wins at the end of last season and means the Catalan side has now dropped just four points in the last 16 La Liga games.
On Tuesday, the Blaugrana swept Real Sociedad aside at Camp Nou, with Neymar, Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Marc Bartra all scoring in a comprehensive 4-1 win.
Messi has begun the season in typical fashion, netting 10 goals in all competitions, but Brazil star Neymar has also enjoyed an impressive start to life in Barcelona after his move from Santos. Dani Alves is not shocked by his compatriot's adaption to Spanish football.
"I knew of Neymar’s abilities, and I knew that he’d fit in at Barca. I’m not surprised by his good start," Alves told Barcelona's official website.
Almeria’s start to the campaign is in stark contrast to Barca's, as it has failed to pick up a win, earning just three points from six games. The hosts look unlikely to improve on that record this weekend, having taken just two points from their last 10 matches against the Catalans.
Their last four meetings have seen Barca rack up an aggregate scoreline of 19-1, including an 8-0 away victory in 2010.
Although his side will be huge underdogs again, Almeria boss Francisco Javier Rodriguez Vilchez has a full squad to choose from with the only player to miss their last game against Malaga - Christian Fernandez - coming back into contention following suspension.
Martino, meanwhile, is still struggling with injuries in defense, with Jordi Alba and Mascherano ruled out. Isaac Cuenca (knee) and Ibrahim Afellay (knee) are also absent, but Carles Puyol could feature.