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La Liga: Barcelona Face Their Last Trial Before El Classico Against Real Madrid at Almeria

In their last match before next week's Classico, Barcelona will play at Almeria. On paper, this could look like an easy match, given Barcelona's perfect away record so far and the fact that Almeria are currently in the relegation zone.

But that's not the whole story. Last season, Barcelona was surprisingly held to a 2-2 draw at Almeria; the blaugrana were never leading and only two fantastic goals by Lionel Messi saved a point.


This should be enough for Guardiola to know that this match must be taken with the utmost seriousness. In order to get the necessary three points, Barcelona will have to bring their A game.

Real Madrid are heavily favored to beat Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu, which means that Barcelona must win this match to keep the 1-point difference before the Classico. If that happens, Barcelona will then have the chance to reach first place in the standings by winning the Classico.

With this in mind, Guardiola should field a very strong squad: Valdés; Maxwell, Puyol, Piqué, Daniel Alves; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Pedro, David Villa and Lionel Messi.

Most of the Spanish players only played 45 minutes in their midweek international match at Portugal, while Lionel Messi scored the winning goal for Argentina against Brazil. This should mean that the Spanish players will be fresh, while Messi will be even more motivated. The only problem for Guardiola is that Abidal picked a minor injury and will therefore be rested.

Besides winning, it'd also be important that Piqué is not booked. A yellow card and he'll miss the Classico.

The Classico is obviously a very important match, but first Barcelona must beat Almeria. Guardiola and his players certainly realize that and they won't fail.