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LaLiga: State of play
Barça began the weekend in second place in LaLiga, but have dropped (hopefully only temporarily) to fourth after Real Madrid and Sevilla both won on Saturday.
Madrid came from behind to win 2-1 in Huesca, while Barça's Copa del Rey semifinal opponents, Sevilla, beat Getafe 3-0, but Barça will go back above them with a win on Sunday.
Leaders Atlético don’t play until Monday, when they’ll be away to Granada.
The two teams already faced each other this season at the Camp Nou, where Barça won 5-2 with goals from Messi (2), Dembélé, Griezmann and Pedri.
As for the last visit to Benito Villamarín, it was also a Barça victory: 2-3 thanks to goals from De Jong, Busquets and Lenglet.
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Barça head to Andalusia with a real chance of making it six consecutive wins in LaLiga for the first time since March 219 when Ernesto Valverde was coach. The Catalans are unbeaten on their last nine visits to Real Betis in the competition, the last defeat at Benito Villamarín coming in March 2008.
From the verdiblancos point of view, they've only won once in their last 19 attempts in the league against Barça, and that came at the Camp Nou when Quique Setién oversaw a 4-3 away victory in November 2018.
Goals are virtually guaranteed in this fixture with an average of 3.4 goals scored. Barça will be looking to add to that tally and make it 15 consecutive away games scoring in the competition against the Verdiblancos, the blaugranes best scoring run against them in LaLiga.
Lionel Messi will surely have something to say about that given that he's had a hand in 31 goals in 21 games (21 goals and 10 assists) against Real Betis in LaLiga. He's also scored and/or assisted in each of his last five league visits at Benito Villamarín (five goals and seven assists).
For this match, Ronald Koeman has decided to call up the following players: Ter Stegen, Dest, Araujo, Sergio, Griezmann, Pjanić, Braithwaite, Messi, O. Dembélé, Riqui Puig, Neto, Lenglet, Pedri, Trincão, Jordi Alba, Matheus, De Jong, Umtiti, Junior, Arnau Tenas and Mingueza.
Gerard Piqué, Coutinho, Sergi Roberto and Ansu Fati are ruled out through injury.
For Betis, former Barça men Claudio Bravo and Marc Bartra both miss the game through injury, as do Víctor Camarasa and Dani Martín, while Mexican Diego Lainez is in quarantine after resting positive for Covid-19.
View from the bench
Despite Barça's epic midweek win, Ronald Koeman was under no illusions as to how tough things would be on Sunday. "It's a difficult moment, we've been playing a lot of matches recently, a lot with extra-time, a lot away from home and away trips where you come home late so we need time to recuperate."
The Dutchman also acknowledged how well the team had played against Granada, but didn't want to dwell on the result. "I think we're on the right path, tha players are happy but we have to be prepared. I can't deny that the other day, it left me very happy. Very happy with the attitude of the team and the quality they displayed, but footbal is a strange sport. Today we can have sun, tomorrow rain. We have to go game by game because it doesn't matter what we did in the past," he added.
Betis boss Manuel Pellegrini said that: "There is never an easy time to play Barça with the players they have, and Leo Messi will always make a difference. But we are in good form as well right now, but going out of the cup was a tough blow. We were enjoying the dynamic of playing in two competitions. Let’s see how the players react, Barcelona are such a quality team that they’ll never be easy.”
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