Lionel Messi-led Barcelona will travel to face Real Betis as the Catalans look to decrease the gap with Real Madrid in La Liga.
After the turn of the year, Barcelona was winless in their first two games which rang alarm bells at the Camp Nou. But a mini-revival saw Lionel Messi and Co. win five out of five games, and against Real Betis, who is placed at 14th position of the league table, Barcelona will be confident to take all three points.
Those five wins saw Barcelona close gap with Real Madrid to just two points, albeit having played a game more. And a progress to the semi-final of the Copa Del Rey coupled with the elimination of Real Madrid means all is going well for Luis Enrique’s side.
However, Enrique was wary of being complacent and urged Barcelona team to focus on themselves rather than the oppositions, via ESPN.
“It doesn’t make any sense to focus on other teams if you don’t win your own games.
“We play first [this weekend], so we will focus on our game and try to play well. That’s enough to worry about without focusing on other games.
“I’ve said before that we were looking for a winning run and that’s what we’ve got right now.”
“We’re still only halfway through league, though, so I wouldn’t say our upcoming games are especially decisive. Everyone will drop points, so let’s see how many each team drop and how competitive we can be.”
Team News: Real Betis
The good news for Betis is that Aissa Mandi has returned from the African Cup of Nations, and he is expected to play against Barca from the start. Cristiano Piccini has recovered from injury, while Alex Alegria is likely to play in attack in the absences of Antonio Sanabria and Joaquin.
Real Betis: Predicted Line-up (5-3-2)
Adan — Pezzella, Donk, Durmisi, Gonzalez, Piccinini — Ceballos, Brasanac, Martin — Castro, Alegria
Team News: Barcelona
Argentine midfielder-cum-defender Javier Mascherano has returned from a suspension, although he is not likely to start in Sergio Busquet’s absence. Ivan Rakitic is expected to feature at the base of midfield.
Denis Suarez probably had the best game of his Barcelona career in the last game, so he should feature in midfield in the absence of Andres Iniesta. There is a tough call for Enrique whether to pick Arda Turan or Andre Gomes in another midfield position.
Upfront, the triumvirate of Lionel Messi, Suarez, and Neymar is very likely to start against Betis.
Barcelona: Predicted Line-up (4-3-3)
ter Stegen — Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba, — Turan, Rakitic, Denis Suarez — Neymar, Messi, Suarez
Real Betis vs. Barcelona: Head-to-Head (La Liga)
Total games: 101
Real Betis wins: 20
Barcelona wins: 61
Real Betis vs. Barcelona: TV Schedule and Channel
In the U.S., the match will be live on beIN SPORTS en Espanol, fuboTV, beIN SPORTS USA, and beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A. In the U.K., the game will be broadcast live on Sky Go UK, SKY GO Extra, Sky Sports 2/HD UK, and NOW TV UK. For other regions, the TV schedule can be found in the link here.
Real Betis vs. Barcelona: Prediction
Things are really going according to plan for Messi and his pals at the moment, while the case is opposite for Betis. Having not won in their last two games and just one win in last five games, Barcelona should add further misery to Betis in this early kick-off game.
Final Predicted Score: Real Betis 1-3 Barcelona
Real Betis vs. Barcelona: Betting Tips and Odds
- Real Betis win: 11/1
- A draw: 5/1
- Barcelona win: 2/9
- Under 2.5 goals: 15/8
- Over 2.5 goals: 4/11
- Both teams score: 4/6
- Both teams fail to score: 11/10
The odds were provided by Paddypower.
Key Stats to consider
- Real Betis has scored over 2.5 goals in 14 of their recent 15 games against Barca in all competitions.
- Barca has netted two or more goals in 17 of their last 21 outings (La Liga).
- Barcelona is unbeaten in their last 12 games (La Liga).
- Betis has kept a clean sheet in their last three home games (La Liga).
- Barcelona has netted at least two goals in their last nine games against Betis in all competitions.
The Real Betis vs. Barcelona stats were provided by Soccerway.
Real Betis vs. Barcelona: Live Stream
The match can be streamed live online by clicking at this link. The link will be updated just before kick-off.
[Featured Image by David Ramos/Getty Images]