Almería 1-0 Barcelona: Barca Fail to Create 10-Point Gap with Real Madrid
Barcelona suffered an Old Trafford hangover as they followed their Europa League exit against Manchester United with a 1-0 defeat away at relegation-threatened Almeria.
It was their chance to go 10 points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga but Almeria, who started the game in the bottom three, took the lead and kept it
Almeria was ahead on 24 minutes when Ely Rodrigo won a crunching tackle against Gavi and launched a long ball up the pitch to El Bilal Toure. He held the ball up well and laid it off to Luis Suarez. The Colombian put Toure through and his rocket shot beat Marc Andre ter Stegen crossing the line off the crossbar.
The 21-year-old Mali forward has impressed so far this season and the strike was the sixth goal of his first campaign in Spain.
The home side almost doubled their advantage when Leo Baptistao acrobatically saved a lost cause at the byline and Ter Stegen needed to save well at his near post.
Barcelona coach Xavi had rested Ronald Araujo and Jules Kounde and it was showing. Eric Garcia does not offer the same defensive security and was having a tough time. He picked up a booking too for going through the back of Luis Suarez.
Barça was finding it difficult to test Fernando and when Franck Kessie put Ferran Torres in it was former Barcelona B left-back, Sergio Akieme who stepped in to clear.
Xavi had seen enough by half time and Raphinha came on at the break for Frank Kessie with Barcelona switching a 4-3-3.
The changes did not improve things for the visitors and as their frustration grew they started picking up caution.
Xavi was booked for complaining and Gavi was booked for a foul – both will now have to serve suspensions ruling them out of the next game against Valencia.
Ronald Araujo came on for Barcelona and he had the chance to head them back on level terms but sent his effort across the face of the goal trying to pick out Frenkie de Jong.
Xavi turned to his bench and this time it was 19-year-old Pablo Torre and Angel Alarcon on for the veterans Sergio Roberto and Sergio Busquets.
Alarcon was tripped by a tired Leo Baptistao and when Torre took the free-kick and it came out to Alarcon who forced the save from Fernando. It was the first shot on target and we were at minute 81.
As Barcelona became increasingly desperate Ronaldo Araujo was center-forward alongside Lewandowski. The Uruguayan defender glanced a header just wide as the emergency plan almost paid off.
Almeria had failed to keep a clean sheet in every game they had played so far this season bar one but they were still 1-0 up going into the five added minutes. Araujo headed another ball over the top and Barcelona’s last chance had gone.
Almeria could even have made it 2-0 but Ter Stegen blocked Adrian Embarba’s chance. One goal was enough for Rubi’s side and Xavi had suffered two defeats in the space of just four days.