La Liga Preview: Almeria v Barcelona

Almeria are likely to wince at the sight of Lionel Messi when Barcelona come to town on Saturday.

The four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner has tormented Almeria in the past and enters the clash on the brink of more goalscoring history.

Messi netted both goals in Barcelona's 2-0 UEFA Champions League win at Ajax on Wednesday - a result that sealed their progression to the competition's last 16.

The Argentina star's brace saw him equal the all-time record for goals in Europe's premier club competition. Messi has now scored 71 times in the Champions League, equalling the mark set by Real Madrid legend Raul.

Messi also sits just one adrift of the all-time La Liga scoring record set by Telmo Zarra (251 goals) - and history suggests this weekend could be the time he surpasses that mark.

The 27-year-old has scored in his last six matches against Almeria - netting 11 goals in the process.

Almeria have scored just four themselves in those six clashes, and the club have had no answers for Messi, who started his run with a double in a 2-2 La Liga draw in March 2010.

A hat-trick followed in an 8-0 romp in November of the same year, while he chipped in with a double in a Copa del Rey win against the same opponents just over two months later.

Messi's scoring run has continued since, and he netted in both matches last term - clashes that ended in 2-0 and 4-1 wins to the Catalan giants.

Such is the gargantuan task of stopping Barcelona, if Almeria place all their energy into curbing the influence of their nemesis, they are just as likely to be hurt by Neymar and Luis Suarez.

Luis Enrique has one of the most mouth-watering forward lines ever assembled in world football and if Suarez can gel with his new team-mates quickly, Barca will be sure to mount a serious title threat.

Back-to-back league defeats have seen Barca drop to fourth, though, and a 1-0 home loss to Celta Vigo last week was particularly disappointing.

After starting the season with eight successive clean sheets, goalkeeper Claudio Bravo has shipped four goals in his last two, while Suarez is yet to open his account in three matches in all competitions.

Midfield playmaker Andres Iniesta (knee) is sidelined for Barca, while defenders Jeremy Mathieu (leg) and Thomas Vermaelen (hamstring) are also missing.

Almeria have dropped to 14th in the table after a four-match winless run - the last three of which have been losses.

Scoring goals has been their problem, with only eight in 10 matches, and poor home form has contributed to their lowly standing.

Almeria have also failed to win any of their five home fixtures in La Liga this season.