PREVIEW: FC Barcelona v Real Betis

PREVIEW: FC Barcelona v Real Betis

The Camp Nou is the venue as the Catalans look for a third consecutive victory in La Liga

Following victories against Espanyol and Villarreal, FC Barcelona will be hoping to continue their winning form since Xavi Hernández took over as manager with a tricky game at Camp Nou against one the most in-form teams in the competition.

Real Betis are the visitors for an early 4.15pm CET kick-off. They’re a team featuring plenty of familiar faces, no fewer than eight members of the squad have been at FC Barcelona at some stage of their lives, and they go into the weekend in fifth place in the league table, while they’re also making strong progress in the Europa League.

They’ve been beaten 5-2 on both of their last two visits to the Barça stadium, but that is no reason whatsoever for complacency against a very competitive side indeed.

How it stands

Barça’s improved form means they go into the weekend in seventh place, but they are still 13 points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, albeit with one game in hand. They are closing the gap on the Champions League places though, with five points now separating them for fourth placed Sevilla.

Elsewhere, one of the biggest games this weekend is Real Madrid’s game at the home of Real Sociedad, the early frontrunners in the tournament, who have now dropped to third (9.00pm CET).

Barça, of course, have a massive Champions League game to come up midweek behind closed doors at the home of Bayern Munich, where anything less than a win could mean an early exit from the competition.

Team news

Xavi will not be announcing his squad until after a warm-up session in the Camp Nou on the morning of the match. However, Martin Braithwaite, Sergi Roberto, Pedri, Sergio Agüero and Ansu Fati are all expected to miss out through injury, while new signing Dani Alves is not eligible to play until January.

However, there is good news that Sergiño Dest is back to full fitness.

Last five meetings (all in La Liga)

07/02/21 Betis 2 Barça 3 (Messi, OG, Trincao)
07/11/20 Barça 5 (Dembélé, Griezmann, Messi 2, Pedri) Betis 2
09/02/20 Betis 2 Barça 3 (De Jong, Busquets, Lenglet)
25/08/19 Barça 5 (Griezmann 2, Perez, Alba, Vidal) Betis 2
17/03/19 Betis 1 Barça 4 (Messi 3, Suárez)


Pre-game tribute

Shortly before kick-off, Alexia Putellas will be parading the Ballon d’Or trophy that she won on Monday, making her the first Barça player to be named the best female footballer in the world. She will be joined by Pedri, who collected the Kopa Trophy at the same gala for being voted the world’s best player aged under 21. 

The trophies are to be symbolically ‘re-presented’ by Hristo Stoichkov, himself a winner of the men’s Ballon d’Or in 1994.

Xavi says

"In Villarreal we were daring with the passing and creating chances. We need to improve in defensive and bring the line forward. Every game is a world unto itself, but we are improving. We’re are intense, winning duels and focused.”

"Up front we are missing the contributions of Pedri, Ansu, Martin and Kun, but we have to make do with what we have. That’s not an excuse, but tomorrow we have to compete against a very good team.”

On Frenkie de Jong 

"He is a very important player for us and the other day he scored. He makes goal passes. The kind of Frenkie that we want is the one who moves between the lines and he was excellent in Villarreal".

On Ousmane Dembélé

“He’s 100% but we have to think about whether he should start tomorrow. But he’s training well.”

On Sergi Roberto 

 “He leads by example. He played a whole season without being fully fit. He gets a lot of criticism, even at Camp Nou and I don’t think it’s fair. We hope he comes back happy because the team needs him.”

On Ansu Fati

“He is very committed but we need to exercise caution. We can’t afford to lose him again so we have to wait until he’s 100%. It’s unlikely that he’ll be ready for Wednesday.”


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