Barcelona-Almeria Preview: Catalans hoping to make ground on Madrid

With Atletico and Real Madrid locking horns, the Blaugrana will hope to take advantage of any slip ups in what seems a fairly straightforward clash
Barcelona will hope Almeria's visit on Sunday will give them a chance to get over last week's surprise defeat to Real Sociedad.

Despite la Real challenging strongly for a Europa League spot this year, Barca's third league reverse of the season still came as a surprise and the result allowed Real Madrid to move three points clear at the summit.

Barca's two title rivals, Real and Atletico Madrid, play each other on Sunday. A win for the latter would give Gerardo Martino's men the opportunity to regain top spot with three points against Almeria.

Gerard Pique, Isaac Cuenca and Jonathan dos Santos have all done recovery work in training after picking up slight knocks, while left-back Jordi Alba trained as normal on Friday after a hamstring injury forced him to miss the defeat at Sociedad.

The Blaugrana thumped Rayo Vallecano 6-0 in their last game at Camp Nou and struggling Almeria will have to halt a worrying trend if they are to take anything from the game.

Barca have won each of the past five meetings between the sides, scoring 21 goals and conceding just once.

Almeria lie just two places and four points above the relegation zone having thus far struggled in their first season back in the top flight. A goalless draw with fellow strugglers Malaga last time out did little to help their cause.

Francisco Rodriguez's men have lost four away matches in a row, shipping 10 goals and mustering just one in reply, but the head coach at least has a fully-fit squad to choose from on this occasion.

A positive result would provide a huge boost to Almeria, especially with the two teams immediately below them, Valladolid and Malaga, facing each other 24 hours earlier.