Win confirms eight point lead (3-1)
Barça came from behind to take three vital points and beat Almeria 3-1 at the Nou Camp tonight with a goal from Thiago and two from Messi, one a penalty, that send them to the Bernabeu next week with an 8 point lead. The team did what had to be done and now go into the big game next week with a comfortable eight point cushion over their great rivals. This was a hard earned win over bottom club Almeria, who limited Barça early on and even took the lead, before Guardiola’s team’s courage and talent once again proved enough to take the three points.
Guardiola rings the changes
Barça made a number of changes to their starting line up, with Pinto finally making it after recovering from his ankle injury, Milito, Maxwell, Thiago and Bojan all getting a run out. The keeper in truth had a quiet game- there was nothing he could do about Almeria’s goal, which was their only serious attempt –but Thiago and Bojan made a bright start , combining on 15 minutes with the former firing over the number 9’s cross after a galloping run down the right.
Barça up the pace
Almeria were containing Barça though, with a high defensive line and stopping the normally fluid passing game the league leaders, so much so that they forced four corners in the first 20 minutes before Messi led a Barça reaction and the team upped the pace to begin creating good chances.
Almeria stun the Nou Camp
Barça began the second half looking determined to open the scoring and David Villa, who had replaced the injured Bojan on the half hour, was unlucky to see his shot hit the post. Straight after that, Corona rounded off a quick counter to put the visitors ahead and stun the home crowd, but the leaders hit back immediately when Almeria keeper Diego Alves brought down Villa in the box and Leo Messi put away the penalty to make it 1-1.
Thiago an Messi again!
Now Barça poured forward with continuing attacks, as Guardiola gambled with Pedro replacing Milito and Mascherano dropping back to centre half . The Spanish winger’s first intervention ended with a shot into the side netting after Alves had parried a Villa shot. The goal had to come and it was Thiago who got it, firing in a great effort from a corner. Almeria managed to hang on at 2-1 until Messi again popped up to score in the final minute and confirm Barça’s top spot ahead of next week’s big game.