Barcelona must get back to winning ways as they get ready to host Real Betis in gameweek 9 of La Liga. Barça Universal runs the rule over the lineup selection for the game.
It has been a topsy-turvy start to the season for Barcelona this season. The highest of highs have been immediately followed by the deepest of troughs. Every time the Catalans pull off a fine result, the next game points to disaster. Yet, every disaster is followed by one which displays promise.
A club of Barcelona’s stature is under the constant pressure to win. Indeed, performing at the highest level is a must. Yet, this season seems different. The demands seem naturally lowered with the fanbase understanding the side-effects of a rebuild. Yet, there is one thing Culés scream out for — consistency.
Barcelona have had a dream start to the UEFA Champions League, something the Catalans are accustomed to in the group stages. Not necessarily the best games performance-wise, but the results place them at the top.
Yet, they find themselves at the bottom half of the league even on matchday seven. After the opening two victories against Villareal and Celta de Vigo, the Blaugranas have failed to pick up all three points in the last four games.
It is time to pull their socks up because any further falls would dent any hopes of a competitive domestic campaign. Additionally, Ronald Koeman already finds himself at the receiving end of massive criticism, and if he intends to save his project from drowning. At it has to start right now, from the game against Real Betis on Friday.
What to expect from Real Betis?
Real Betis are relatively better placed than the hosts for the coming encounter. After appointing the decorated Manuel Pellegrini as the manager in the summer, they have seen a steady start to the campaign. With four wins and an equal number of losses so far, the Sevilla based side find themselves at seventh in the standings.
Pellegrini has adopted a 4-2-3-1 attacking formation, reminiscent of his recent spells in the Premier League. Under the Chilean, Betis have seen a major change in playing style.
The astounding fluidity of the front four has left opposition defences baffled. With relatively central positions, the overload often overwhelms opposition pivots. Nevertheless, the full-backs Emerson and Alex Moreno compensate for the width and are crucial in the buildup.
Manuel Pellegrini is experienced and knows what to expect from Barcelona. Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images
Betis will be without Nabil Fekir for the clash against Barcelona, yet do have potent resources to cover up. Subsequently, one could expect Joaquin to fill in the boots on Saturday, playing in the attacking midfield capacity.
In defence, Los Verdiblancos have been caught on the break quite often. Being a side that likes to control possession and play a high defensive line, it is the one understandable shortcoming. However, a potent Guido Rodriguez holds the fort safely more often than not, comfortably slotting between the centrebacks.
William Carvalho, his partner in the defensive midfield often drifts higher up with more freedom. It is, however, the trio of Sergio Canales, Joaquin and Christian Tello that will worry Ronald Koeman the most.
How should Barcelona Line-up against Betis?
Marc-André ter Stegen made his return to football resonate across the globe with a fabulous display against Dynamo Kyiv. He will undoubtedly return to his deserved position between the posts.
Neto covered for him well, but there is no way he could have displaced MATS. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
In central defence, Gerard Pique will be an undoubted starter. After being rested for a muscular strain, one could expect Clement Lenglet to return to action on Saturday too. However, the duo needs to be wary against a tricky opposition.
Pique has repeatedly struggled in the footrace on the counter, and it is beginning to get concerning for the Azulgranas. Concurrently, Lenglet’s sudden lapses in focus are more conspicuously exploited. It is time for them to get moving on the highest gear.
At right-back, Sergi Roberto would likely get the nod after starting on the bench midweek. Up one on one against Sergio Canales, it will be a challenge for the La Masia graduate. Undoubtedly, it would be ideal to start Roberto and reserve Sergiño Dest for games against sides with a low block.
Jordi Alba will continue to start on the left flank, going up against Emerson. The Spaniard has been lackadaisical in defence, and not the most accurate in crossing either. Yet, a sheer lack of options liberates him from the fear of being benched. It is crucial for him to get back to his bast if Barcelona are to get all three points.
After playing as a make-shift central defender for two games, Frenkie de Jong will be eager to return to his natural position. The other player in the pivot will likely be Miralem Pjanic. The Bosnian’s importance in the squad is on the rise owing to his gradual introduction. Consequently, it would not be wrong to assume that he is ahead of Sergio Busquets in the pecking order.
As the left-winger, Ansu Fati continues to provide a strong case to back his new starting role. He once again turned up trumps in the game against Dynamo Kyiv midweek. That said, there are still better decisions he can take on the field, he continues to terrorize defences alike.
Fati must continue his goalscoring exploits. (Photo by Enric Fontcuberta via Imago)
On the right-wing, Ousmane Dembele will be the ideal choice. Since his return, he has looked menacing and fitter than ever. Though early days, one hopes he keeps his fitness levels high.
As the attacking midfield option, Koeman will be tempted to go for the talismanic Lionel Messi. Surprisingly, the Argentine did come under severe criticism for ‘walking on the pitch’ on Wednesday, which is baffling.
Yet, Leo continues to be one of Barcelona’s most vital players despite his goal drought. Undoubtedly, he will be looking back to getting into the scoring sheets on Saturday.
Antoine Griezmann’s torrid times in front of goal continue, and the last game was no different for the Frenchman. Though shadowed out for major parts, he does come clutch with some combinations with Messi. He is clearly not at his best, however, he will get the start on Saturday.
It is certainly in every Cule’s mind that the combination of Griezmann-Messi lights up. Indeed, one hopes that the coming game at Camp Nou is the night it happens.
Barcelona possible line-up vs Real Betis
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.