Barcelona hasn’t tasted defeat in more than three months, laying waste to all comers in every competition with 20 consecutive victories, including 12 straight in La Liga.
And yet Luis Enrique’s side has rocketed to first place on the domestic front despite a significant scoring drought from superstar striker Neymar. The Brazilian hasn’t scored in a La Liga match since a 5-0 victory over Levante on Feb. 15, but during the buildup to Wednesday’s home date with Almeria, Enrique brushed aside any talk of Neymar’s lack of scoring.
"I am not worried at all," Enrique told BBC Sport. "We are talking about an outstanding player. From what I see in training I am sure his scoring streak will soon return and he will be back on top form."
Neymar’s totaled 17 goals and four assists in his second season at Camp Nou and stands to potentially halt his five-match scoreless streak against an Almeria side facing relegation and in the process of working in new manager Sergi Barjuan. On Monday, the club parted ways with Juan Ignacio Martinez amidst a seven-match winless streak.
Leading Almeria scorer Tomer Hemed, who’s netted eight goals and two assists this term, has the opportunity to impress Barjuan and possibly lift his side, however briefly, out of relegation. Almeria sits one point back of Deportivo, and a seemingly improbable win over the Catalans would launch them into a tie with Elche and Levante.
But Barcelona are hungry and have their own position on the table to fret over. With nine La Liga matches remaining, the Catalans hold a slim four-point lead over second-place Real Madrid, following Los Blancos devastating 9-1 victory over Granada.
The embarrassingly lopsided win likely served as a reminder to Barcelona of just how dangerous Madrid remains despite their mid to late-season slide.
And though Almeria are a wounded club, Enrique stressed to reporters that the match is a must-win.
“If we want to win the league, then we have to make sure we win this game,'' Enrique said. “We'll be taking this game as seriously as any other, knowing that we have to get things right if we want to be sure of the three points.”
Kickoff Time: 2 p.m. ET
TV Channel: beIN Sport
Live Stream: A live stream is available at beIN Sports Connect here
Prediction: Barcelona over Almeria, 3-0