Iniesta: Barca focus on Almeria

Published Nov. 19, 2010 3:21 p.m. ET

Barcelona ace Andres Iniesta is focused only on Saturday's La Liga clash with Almeria despite all the hype surrounding next Monday's 'Clasico.'

"For me, the Almeria game is the most important one," Iniesta said yesterday.

"It is not difficult to isolate ourselves from the 'Clasico' - our obligation is to focus on the next match."

Iniesta has seen team-mates Xavi and Carles Puyol rack up 500 appearances for the Catalan club and the midfielder, a hugely popular figure among the Barcelona faithful, says he wants to finish his career at the Nou Camp.

"I want to get to 500 games for Barca like Xavi and Puyol," said the Spain star, who has already appeared well over 300 times for the Catalan club.

"It would be a dream to finish my career here."

Meanwhile, Iniesta hopes team-mate Dani Alves will sign a new deal to stay at the Nou Camp.


Reports this week suggested the Brazil right-back was set to leave after failing to reach an agreement with the Catalan outfit, but Iniesta says Barca need to hang on to the player, who he describes as one of the club's best-ever signings.

"I hope Alves will stay with us. He is the number one in his position (in the world) and he has been one of the best signings in the club's history," he said.

Gerard Pique has been struggling with a slight hamstring problem and is doubtful for the match against Almeria.

The Spain defender missed Barca's 3-1 win over Villarreal last weekend through suspension after he was shown the red card in the win at Getafe a week earlier.

However, the former Manchester United centre-back is just one yellow card away from another ban and a booking against Almeria would see him suspended for the 'Clasico'.

Under those circumstances, Guardiola may decide to rest the 23 year-old, although the club's other recognised central defender, Gabriel Milito, is sidelined, and full-back Eric Abidal, an admirable stand-in against Villarreal, also misses out.

Guardiola, whose side currently sit a point behind leaders Madrid, comes up against his friend and mentor Juanma Lillo tomorrow.

The Barca coach finished his playing career at Mexican club Dorados, having been persuaded to move there by Lillo, and the two share footballing philosophies.

Nevertheless, the two coaches have very different playing personnel at their disposal and Lillo admits his side are likely to be on the back foot tomorrow.

"Against Barcelona you don't play how you want to play; you play however you can," he said yesterday.

"The important thing is to take advantage of what they allow you to do."

Almeria have won just once in the Primera Division all season and sit in 18th place with just nine points from their 11 matches.

Defeat against Barcelona could spell the end for Lillo, who took over from Hugo Sanchez at the end of 2008 and steered the club to safety last season.

Hernan Pellerano and Miguel Angel Nieto are sidelined for Almeria, while Albert Crusat is doubtful.