Double stakes in Almeria

Barcelona sealed their 7th La Liga title in 11 years and their 23rd overall with a 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid. How fitting then that it would be Lionel Messi who would score the decisive goal with a typical Messi finish and it capped off the perfect couple of weeks for Barcelona.

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Revenge was served at its highest, first knocking out Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League (Bayern Munich beat Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate the year before at the semi-final stage) and then beating Atletico Madrid on Sunday evening which is the same side that held Barcelona to a draw to clinch the La Liga title last year nearly a year to the day.

Almeria v Valencia

This is the most significant game in the final set of fixtures in the La Liga. 19th placed Almeria who can only avoid relegation with a victory in front of their home fans welcome 4th placed Valencia who must win to insure Champions League football next year.

Unfortunately for Almeria, their winless in 4 games whilst Valencia are unbeaten in 15 of their last 16 league matches. Almeria threw away a 1-0 lead at Sevilla to lose 2-1 after conceding two goals in quick succession and it has now plunged them deep into crisis and matters weren’t helped when they were reduced to 10 men.

Angel Trujillo was the man sent off for Almeria and he had come on as a substitute himself for Ximo Navarro who picked up an injury in the first half and both players are now going to be missing against Valencia.

Almeria up until the Sevilla defeat only had Fran Velez injury to be concerned about but now they have 3 defenders missing and will have a big decision to make in who partners Mauro Dos Santos at the heart of defence in keeping Valencia’s Paco Alcacer quiet.

Valencia’s Andre Gomes picked up an injury against Celta Vigo and is doubtful for the Almeria trip but Rodrigo does return from a 3 game suspension.

Malaga v Sevilla

Sevilla are the side hot on Valencia’s tail in 5th position, just a measly point behind. They have a significantly worse goal difference so only a win at Malaga will do.

Malaga have suffered 3 defeats in their last 4 games which has blown any hopes of qualifying for the Europa League up in the air. Sevilla have lost just once in their last 13 La Liga matches and with a Europa League final also coming up, they have 2 potential opportunities in sealing a place in next year’s Champions League.

Unai Emery sprang the changes after the hour mark after frustratingly watching his side trail 1-0 to Almeria and it seemed to pay dividends as Benoit Tremoulinas and Iago Aspas introductions sparked the comeback that saw a brace from Vicente Iborra seal the win. Carlos Bacca was also missing from the squad and is likely to return for Kevin Gameiro.

Malaga can still drop to 11th if results go against them so they’ll need to improve on their latest showings if they don’t want to avoid slipping into the bottom half of the table.

Barcelona v Deportivo

Barcelona sealed the title on Sunday evening with a 1-0 victory against 3rd placed, Atletico Madrid. It was their 1st trophy of the season and with a treble still potentially on the table with the Copa Del Rey and Champions League finals still on their schedules; Luis Enrique may rest several players ahead of the celebratory match against Deportivo.

However, given Deportivo’s precarious position, Barcelona will respect the other clubs in the relegation zone and field a side worthy of winning the game.

Luis Suarez is 99.9% likely to miss the game given he sat out of the Atletico Madrid game and with 2 finals coming up the former Liverpool forward will allow his hamstring time to fully recover. The likes of Sergi Roberto, Pedro, Adriano and Rafinha are sure to start at the Nou Camp.

Deportivo meanwhile have gained 5 points from 3 games that has seen them evade the bottom 3. They were forced into an early substitution in the 2-0 home win over Levante as Manuel Pablo limped off and is doubtful for the match. Pablo Insua and Cezary Wilk will also be missing for the visitors.

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