Barcelona host Real Betis at the Nou Camp in La Liga. Neither side has been at their best in the league this season. The game should provide a lot of entertainment as there is a lot of quality in both squads.
Date and kick-off time: Saturday 7 November 2020, 16:15 CET
Stadium: Camp Nou
Competition: La Liga, Matchday 9
Referee: Guillermo Cuadra
Barcelona have faced a busy schedule over the last month with UEFA Champions League games being played midweek and La Liga at the weekends. Against Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday night, the Spanish giants showed they have a lot of quality, but also looked like a team that was tired.
However, manager Ronald Koeman will have to find the balance between rotations and playing his strongest side as this is a must-win game for Barça. In the last four matches in La Liga, the Catalan side have only managed to win two points out of a possible twelve. Anything but three points on Saturday will ring alarm bells in Catalonia going into the international break.
Real Betis come into this fixture not on the best run of form either. They sit above Barcelona in the league table in 7th but have played two games more times than the Blaugrana. From their eight games in the league, the Andalusian side have won four and lost four matches.
Ansu Fati will hope to continue his goal-scoring exploits in La Liga. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
They do possess some talented players, especially in midfield and attack, but it is their leaky defence that the hosts should target. The away side have conceded 12 goals this season — the joint fifth-worst defence in the league.
The two teams share several players that have played for both clubs. Martin Montoya, Marc Bartra, Claudio Bravo, Juan Miranda, Cristian Tello and Junior Firpo have all played for both teams at some stage. The game was also given extra incentive as Real Betis player Joaquin blasted Koeman in the media from their time at Valencia together.
What to expect from Barcelona?
Ronald Koeman was clearly frustrated by his team’s performance midweek. He was unhappy with the movement and their poor finishing. It has been reported that he has stressed to his players that this is the first final of the season to try and inspire them to raise their standards. The club needs a win going into the international break to get their league campaign back on track.
It will be interesting to see if Koeman will shuffle the starting 11 around as some players struggle with form. The manager has clearly tried to implement a regular starting line-up but is yet to find the right balance. While the team has generally improved their performances from previous seasons, they still miss that spark.
Lionel Messi will be essential for the Catalan side, as always, and will be looking to score from open play for the first time this season.
We can expect to see these two men together tomorrow; one in the midfield and one at right-back. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
Not being able to take chances has been the biggest issue for the players so far. The build-up has been considerably more intricate, especially creating goal-scoring opportunities, but the lack of a natural number 9 is definitely hurting the team. The manager has stressed how important it is to take these chances, so hopefully, the squad responds and a more clinical Barça is on show.
What to expect from Real Betis?
Real Betis have been an inconsistent team in recent seasons. At times, they have played wonderful football but not managed to get the results they should. This season has been similar with four wins, and four loses. The away side have undeniable quality, but they sometimes lack that clinical edge to go with their entertaining football.
Last season, Los Verdiblancos had a poor league campaign, finishing 15th. Now, under new veteran manager Manuel Pellegrini, they will be looking to finish much higher up. Though they have somewhat struggled in La Liga, especially against teams in the top half of the table, they are still a threat.
Former Barcelona player, Cristian Tello, will be looking to cause his boyhood club problems as he arrives back at the Camp Now. The winger is having an impressive season as he is currently the joint second-highest scorer in La Liga. The midfield for Real Betis is also solid, notably Guido Rodriguez, Sergio Canales and William Carvalho. These three can cause the home side problems when they get the ball in space.
Tello will be keen to prove Barcelona wrong. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)
Previous games: WDWLW
Barcelona 2-1 Dynamo Kyiv | UEFA Champions League
Deportivo Alavés 1-1 Barcelona | La Liga
Juventus 0-2 Barcelona | UEFA Champions League
Barcelona 1-3 Real Madrid | La Liga
Barcelona 5-1 Ferencváros | UEFA Champions League
Position in La Liga
8 points in 6 games
2 wins 2 draws and 2 loses
10 Goals Scored, 6 Goals Conceded
+4 Goal Difference
Previous games: WLLWL
Real Betis 3-1 Elche | La Liga
Atlético Madrid 2-0 Real Betis | La Liga
Real Betis 0-3 Real Sociedad | La Liga
Valencia 0-2 Real Betis | La Liga
Getafe 3-0 Real Betis | La Liga
Position in La Liga
12 points in 8 games
4 wins 4 loses
10 Goals Scored, 12 Goals Conceded
-2 Goal Difference
Real Betis 2-3 Barcelona | La Liga 19/20
Barcelona 5-2 Real Betis | La Liga 19/20
Real Betis 1-4 Barcelona | La Liga 18/19
Barcelona 3-4 Real Betis | La Liga 18/19
Real Betis 0-5 Barcelona | La Liga 17/18
- Barcelona have not won a game in La Liga for over a month.
- The two teams have faced each other on 46 occasions with Barcelona winning 28 matches and Real Betis winning 9 times.
- Barcelona have not kept a clean sheet against Betis in over two years, the last one coming in January 2018, in a 5-0 win.
Injured: Samuel Umtiti (knee), Philippe Coutinho (Hamsting), Ronald Araujo (muscle injury)
Dest • Piqué • Lenglet • Alba
Pjanić • de Jong
Dembélé • Messi • Fati
Coach: Ronald Koeman
Injured: Victor Camarasa, Francis, Dani Martin, Nabil Fekir
Doubtful: Juanmi, Andres Guardado
Emerson • Bartra • Mandi • Moreno
Carvalho • Rodriguez • Canales
Tello • Sanabria • Joaquin
Coach: Manuel Pellegrini
Both teams will be desperate for a win on Saturday. The favourites are Barcelona, as history suggests. The Catalan side will likely be eager to impress after a lacklustre performance midweek. However, the freshness of the Real Betis side, who have only had to focus on La Liga, could be a factor. The game will not be straightforward for the hosts as their opponents do have a strong squad on paper.
Barça Universal Prediction: 3-1 win for the hosts.
Predicted Barcelona lineup against Sevilla — Araujo and Griezmann return
Heading into the back to back clashes against Sevilla can surely not be easy for Ronald Koeman. The 2-0 defeat at the Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan is undoubtedly fresh in the minds of players, one that cannot be forgotten easily.
Action returns on Saturday in La Liga, once again in the stadium that the Catalans recently lost blood in. Points on the League at this stage are vital, and Barcelona cannot afford to let their guard down. Here is how Barcelona could lineup against Sevilla
In goal once again, Marc Andre ter Stegen will continue to star for the Blaugranas. The German has been absolutely vital and stellar once again for his side. Needless to say, his performance on Saturday will account for so much of the result.
Gerard Pique has started three in three games since his return from injury and looked fit as ever. The Spaniard has indeed endured a mixed start, yet not one with mistakes highlighted.
Alongside him will likely be Ronald Araujo. The Uruguayan finally returns from injury, and the boost couldn’t come at a better time for Barcelona. Araujo will be crucial for the upcoming decisive clashes in the Catalans schedule.
Sergino Dest will return to his duties at right-back, given the weight of the coming clash. Up against the fourth-placed side in the league, Barcelona will have to be equally effective in creating chances from both sides. Something for which the American international’s top form is a necessity.
Jordi Alba will continue to be deputed at left-back after his performance against Elche added yet another goal to his season. The left-back has been renewed indeed and will be vital against Sevilla.
With Miralem Pjanic out through injury, Sergio Busquets will almost certainly start for Koeman’s side on Saturday. The midfielders guile and creativity will be the need of the hour at the Ramon Sanchez Pijzuan.
Busquets will likely be accompanied once again by Frenkie de Jong and Pedri. Over the past few months, the duo has cemented their place in Koeman’s Gala XI and rightfully earned their spot.
While de Jong’s advanced role is very conspicuous, Pedri has been working harder than ever in the shadows. The youngster has been heavily involved in retrievals, a facet which Barcelona heavily lacked in recent years.
Fransisco Trincao could not register himself on the scoresheet at the Camp Nou midweek but still had a fantastic performance. It was only a brilliant save from Edgar Badia that denied the Portuguese another feather in his cap. He will start on the right-wing.
Lionel Messi will once again look to lead from the tip of the spear as he continues his sensational goal streak. The La Liga top scorer just cannot be stopped at the moment, and once again, all eyes will be on the Argentine to make the difference on Saturday.
Antoine Griezmann was rested against Elche and could make his highly-anticipated comeback in the coming game. Though the dawn of the new century has borne well for the Frenchman, the last few games have seen him slightly get on the wrong foot. He will undoubtedly be looking to get back on scoring terms against Sevilla.
Griezmann · Messi · Trincao
Pedri · Busquets · de Jong
Alba · Pique · Araujo · Dest
Riqui Puig on the bench could be a candidate for Koeman to turn to. The La Masia graduate has time and again upped the tempo of the Blaugranas game, providing last-minute firepower that is often invaluable.
Martin Braithwaite pulled off an amazing show against Elche, with two sumptuous assists to be proud of. The Dane could once again be called up against Sevilla to make a difference in the latter half of the game.