Barcelona ended a miserable week with a 1-0 defeat to an inspired Almería, as their seven-game winning LaLiga run was ended by the relegation-threatened side in Andalusia.
Xavi’s men arrived looking to bounce back from a disappointing UEFA Europa League defeat to Manchester United and stretch their lead at the La Liga summit after eternal rivals Real Madrid dropped points in the Madrid derby.
Maybe being terrorised by the likes of Marcus Rashford in Thursday’s loss affected confidence however, as Barça looked uncomfortable in a hard-fought opening that saw Almería – who started the afternoon in the bottom three – take the game to a defence that’s conceded just seven goals after 22 matches this campaign.
The Catalan club’s ability to withstand pressure might be the main reason for their fruitful La Liga campaign, but there was little solidity on display as the hosts took the lead through El Bilal Touré with 24 minutes gone.
The absences of Pedri, Ousmane Dembélé and Ansu Fati from Barcelona’s frontline were stark as Almería started to dream of a first LaLiga win over the Catalans in front of baying home fans.
It was hard to believe that this was the same Rojiblanco side which had conceded six goals in their last league outing as some staunch defending in the closing stages limited Barcelona to aimless long balls, with Robert Lewandowski left as a mere spectator.