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FC Barcelona kick off their 2017/18 La Liga campaign against Betis at the Camp Nou at 8.15pm CET on Sunday. It will be an emotional night following Thursday’s terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. The Club’s thoughts are with the victims of the attack and their families and friends.
The Club is planning to hold a minute’s silence before kick off in honour of the victims and have also received special permission from the league to play in a shirt with the hashtag #TotsSomBarcelona on the front and ‘Barcelona’ on the back instead of names. Valverde’s team will look to start their league campaign with a win to pay tribute to the victims in the best way possible.
FC Barcelona’s players trained on Saturday evening ahead of Sunday’s match against Betis. The good news is that both Piqué and Vermaelen have been passed fit; however, the manager can’t count on Iniesta, Rafinha and Suárez who are all out injured.
Ernesto Valverde’s eighteen-man squad for the match: Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Semedo, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Arda, Messi, Mascherano, Deulofeu, Paco Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Aleix Vidal and Umtiti.
Betis’ squad for the match will not include new signing from Montpellier Boudebouz or Junior who are both recovering from injury. However, Cristian Tello has trained with the team this week and is in the match day squad for the league opener against his old team.
Ernesto Valverde spoke of the need “to play well and win and look for that balance between attack and defence.” The manager has spoken of the need to be brave and take the game to Betis.
He is expecting a tough match against a reinvigorated Andalucian side: “Betis won’t be a team who sit back, they will be courageous as we have seen in preseason.”
Finally, he discussed the tragic events in Barcelona and Cambrils on Thursday: “They are very unfortunate circumstances and from our club we give our full support to the victims.
Meanwhile, Betis’ new manager Quique Setién spoke confidently of his team’s chances at the Camp Nou while also warning his team that “we will see a team and a group of players who are hurting. They will give everything to prove themselves but we are still optimistic.”
FC Barcelona’s flawless preseason record in which they beat Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid on their US tour before a 5-0 win in the Gamper Trophy over Chapecoense saw them warm up for the upcoming league campaign in style.
However, the blaugranas have played two official games so far against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup and were unable to secure their first trophy of the season. The team from Madrid won the first leg at the Camp Nou 3-1 and then Valverde’s side were unable to mount a comeback in the return leg at the Bernabéu in which they lost 2-0.
Real Betis have had a summer of change following a disappointing campaign last year. Their new coach Quique Setién, who arrives from UD Las Palmas, has let 16 players go and signed ten so far. Ex-Barça player Cristian Tello is among those new arrivals. The new squad has had some good results in the twelve friendlies they have played during their preseason against top quality teams such as Benfica, Besiktas, Inter and AC Milan.
The two sides met in last season’s league curtain raiser and in that match Barça romped to a 6-2 victory. The goals came from a Leo Messi hat-trick, a Suárez brace and an Arda Turan strike and gave Barça a convincing opening win to go with their free-flowing attacking football. Valverde’s players will be looking to do the same again on Sunday.
In last season’s return match at the Benito Villamarin, the game was much closer and it took a 90th minute Luis Suárez equaliser to salvage a point for the blaugranas in a 1-1 draw.
WORLDWIDE TV COVERAGE
Check out our handy TV guide to find out when and where you can watch Barça on TV. If you can’t get to a TV then don’t worry as you can listen to English commentary on Radio Barça, or follow our minute-by-minute updates on FC Barcelona’s official Twitter account throughout the game.
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