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
Barcelona vs Osasuna: Match Preview
Barcelona return to their cramped position in La Liga after a comfortable outing in the Champions League. The Catalans turn hosts this time around as they try to get back to winning ways in the league against Osasuna.
Date and kick-off time: Sunday 29 November 2020, 14:00 CET
Stadium: Camp Nou
Competition: La Liga, Matchday 11
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz
Barcelona are in a precarious state in their campaign this term. The Catalans have more points, more wins and a better goal difference in the Champions League than they have in La Liga. Worst possible start to the season in decades, with injuries piling up amid a congested fixture list, Ronald Koeman and the players have a lot to figure out. But, first, they have to get back to winning ways in the league.
Osasuna visit the Camp Nou with memories of their last contest, confirming Real Madrid’s title last season with a 1-2 win. The visitors are on the same points as Barça, albeit playing an extra game. Their recent form has been a worry as they have only one win in their last five games much similar to the Blaugranas.
Barcelona’s memories against Osasuna are not pleasant. (Photo via Imago)
While Los Rojillos do not have the fixture congestion as the hosts, they have mirrored their injury problems and long time absences. Chimy Avila, Brandon, David García, Adrián López are injured and out of the clash. Jonathan Calleri, Aridane Hernández, Juan Pérez, Lucas Torró are doubtful for the game.
Barça’s injury list has dented the team significantly. While Ansu Fati, Gerard Piqué and Sergi Roberto remain sidelined for months, there has been some improvement for the others. Both Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo have started the group training but will be a couple of weeks before they are match fit.
“Dest had some discomfort in his leg, but it is not a serious matter because he trained well today. If he is not well tomorrow, we will play someone else. We will not risk injuries.”Ronald Koeman | Pre-game Presser
Sergio Busquets is given the medical green light for this clash after recovering from a knock in International duty. Despite initial reports of an injury, Sergino Dest has made the squad list after having trained with the group before the game.
What to expect from Barcelona?
Ronald Koeman decided to field a second-string eleven against Dynamo Kyiv and rested his most-played players. Both Frenkie de Jong and Lionel Messi got a well-deserved rest after playing almost all games this season. So, both players will be fit and raring to go this weekend in La Liga. With the return of Coutinho, the front four seems to take shape in the absence of Ansu Fati.
“Hopefully tomorrow Messi and De Jong can offer their best because we need them.”Ronald Koeman | Pre-Game Presser
While there are options aplenty in the attack, the defence still seems shaky and not enough for top La Liga sides. Óscar Mingueza could continue to partner Clément Lenglet after impressing midweek. If Dest is not fit enough to start either Mingueza or de Jong will fit in at right-back. Carles Aleñá could get another run in the pivot with Miralem Pjanić if de Jong fills in at defence. Clement Lenglet and Jordi Alba would be the only two regular starters in the backline.
Personnel issues aside, Barcelona have struggled tactically this season. While they breezed past Dynamo Kyiv in the previous game, they still provided the opponent with plenty of easy chances. The erratic pressing and loss of intensity after some point results in the opposition carving open the Barça defence with as little as a one-two pass. The manager should work on these and make sure the pressing works against tactically drilled La Liga sides.
What to expect from Osasuna?
Jagoba Arrasate’s Osasuna have been excellent in the top flight since getting promoted. After finishing an impressive 10th place last time, they are in the bottom half of the table this season, just below Barcelona. Injuries to crucial players have dented their fortunes this season, and their recent form is not helping the team.
When the last time the two sides met, the visitors won with only 20% possession, had more shots on target and scored a goal while a man down. Arrasate understandably would go with the same approach this time around as well. Whether the formation is 3-5-2 or 4-4-2, Osasuna will pack the middle to restrict the Blaugranas from breaking lines and going through the centre.
With a lack of possession and territory, Osasuna will look to go long moving the ball direct while counter-attacking. The visitors being aerially dominant, will often look to cross into the box. They do take a lot of shots confidently but are often prone to miss big chances. In this particular match, Osasuna’s game plan would work with ease if they hold their shape well in defence and successfully get into scoring positions.
Player to watch
Budimir has scored one of the only two goals Atletico Madrid have conceded this season. (Photo via Imago)
Osasuna have a lot of tall players ready to nod the crosses they put in. Ante Budimir is among the tallest of the lot, standing tall at 6’2″. The Croatian has played their last three games scoring one goal against Atletico Madrid past Jan Oblak. He is not afraid to take shots as he leads the team in shots per game.
One of the main reasons for his threat is the lack of height in the Barça defence. With Gerard Piqué out, the aerial presence at the back is severely low, and the Croat could take advantage of the situation.
Previous games: WLWWD
Dynamo Kyiv 0–4 Barcelona | UEFA Champions League
Atletico Madrid 1–0 Barcelona | La Liga
Barcelona 5–2 Real Betis | La Liga
Barcelona 2–1 Dynamo Kyiv | UEFA Champions League
Deportivo Alavés 1–1 Barcelona | La Liga
Position in La Liga
11 points in 8 games
3 wins, 2 draws and 3 losses
15 Goals Scored, 9 Goals Conceded
+6 Goal Difference
Previous games: DLLWD
Osasuna 1–1 Huesca | La Liga
Sevilla 1–0 Osasuna | La Liga
Osasuna 1–3 Atlético Madrid | La Liga
Osasuna 1–0 Athletic Bilbao | La Liga
Eibar 0–0 Osasuna | La Liga
Position in La Liga
11 points in 9 games
3 wins, 2 draws, 4 losses
8 Goals Scored, 9 Goals Conceded
-1 Goal Difference
Barcelona 1–2 Osasuna | La Liga 19/20
Osasuna 2–2 Barcelona | La Liga 19/20
Barcelona 7–1 Osasuna| La Liga 16/17
Osasuna 0–3 Barcelona | La Liga 16/17
Barcelona 7–0 Osasuna| La Liga 13/14
- Barcelona are undefeated in 33 of their last 35 home matches (LaLiga).
- Osasuna have failed to score in their last 3 away matches (LaLiga).
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in 8 of Osasuna’s last 10 away games (LaLiga).
- Osasuna were unbeaten against Barcelona last season.
Injured: Samuel Umtiti (knee), Gerard Pique (knee), Ansu Fati (knee), Sergi Roberto (hamstring), Ronald Araujo
Marc-André ter Stegen
Dest · Mingueza · Lenglet · Alba
Pjanic · de Jong
Dembele · Messi · Coutinho
Coach: Ronald Koeman
“If we maintain our rhythm with the ball, we will be very good. Sometimes we suddenly relax. The team needs to keep a constant level of intensity.”Ronald Koeman | Pre-Game Presser
Injured: Chimy Avila, Brandon, David García, Adrián López, Jonathan Calleri, Aridane Hernández, Juan Pérez, Lucas Torró
Roncaglia · David García · Raúl Navas
Nacho Vidal · Moncayola · Sanjurjo · Inigo Pérez · Jony
Budimir · Garcia
Coach: Jagoba Arrasate
Barcelona have been wayward in La Liga this season. They have performed against teams which like possession, but have struggled hard against low and medium blocks. Barça despite, having the ball, have been highly inefficient, moving it slow unable to break down the opponents. It would continue against Osasuna unless Ronald Koeman decides to do things differently.
Barça Universal prediction: 2–1 win for the Catalans