Carles Puyol is likely to be given the chance to sit this match out as he nurses a minor injury. Dani Alves is almost ready to return, but this match is expected to come just a little too soon. Jeffren Suarez is also absent.
Bojan Krkic and substitute goalkeeper Jose Pinto have been suffering from a stomach bug.
Modeste M'Bami returns to the squad after suspension. Juanito, Juanma Ortiz and Marcelo Silva remain absent.
Barcelona maintained their ferocious pace atop La Liga on Saturday night, blasting past Racing Santander 3-0 at the Nou Camp to maintain their four point advantage over Real Madrid. Perhaps more pertinently, Pep Guardiola’s side showed that a shock midweek loss against Betis in the second leg of their Copa del Rey was a one-off, allowing Barca to approach Wednesday’s encounter against Almeria off the back of yet another win.
Racing posed Barca no problems. Pedro started the rout with less than 100 seconds on the clock, finishing a sweet passing movement from close range. Lionel Messi then exorcised the ghosts of a penalty miss against Betis by ramming a similar chance low into the visiting goal before the break, while Andres Iniesta was left to complete a simple win with time running out.
“Much effort is behind routine wins such as this, and playing in two competitions at once is very hard,” Guardiola explained after the weekend fixture. “Despite everything the team is always up and ready to generate a lot of chances.
“We dominated Racing with no problems. [It] was a dangerous game.”
After suffering elimination from the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage last season by Sevilla, Barca have already bettered that performance, but Guardiola is aware of the need for more players to step forward.
“We need people in the squad to give us a hand because we are one step away from the final,” he said.
Under the charge of Guardiola, Barca have boasted a remarkable hunger to win every title on offer, and this edition of the Copa is no exception.
Showing signs of improvement
Almeria started the season poorly, but after two months at the helm, Jose Luis Oltra finally has the Andalucian club playing in an improved manner. Success was first tasted in the early rounds of the Copa del Rey, but this fostered confidence that has been taken into the league, bearing significant fruit in recent league encounters.
Ten days ago Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw at the Estadio del Mediterraneo, doing Barcelona a great favour, and then at the weekend Almeria recorded their first league win at the venue all season, scoring an extremely precious 3-2 success over Osasuna.
“Anything to add is good, and the point against Real Madrid is best complimented by this win against Osasuna,” former Tenerife boss Oltra explained to the media after the game. “We are now fully into the [relegation] fight... The team is in good shape and we are competing well.”
Prior to Oltra’s appointment in the south of Spain, Juan Manuel Lillo saw his reign brutally cut short by a magnificent Barca performance at the Estadio del Mediterraneo. On that evening, Barca hit a staggering eight goals past the Andalucians, who were left thoroughly embarrassed by the whole affair.
Even in a more positive spell of form, Almeria will be doing well to keep this match competitive into the second leg.