FC Barcelona, the defending Spanish La Liga champions, took a step toward putting their internal crisis behind them last weekend when they avoided a second straight upset with a 2-1 win over Real Betis that kept them in the title race. They face an even greater threat on Saturday when they host the league's surprising third-place side, the greater Madrid-based Getafe CF.
Barca sit seven points ahead of their Round 24 opponents, and three points behind leaders Real Madrid, who take on 17th-place Celta de Vigo on Sunday. The match is likely another must-win for the champions to keep their place in the title race. A loss could even put their second-place position in jeopardy.
With their inconsistent play in recent weeks, and the dressing room turmoil with superstar Lionel Messi publicly blasting the team's upper management, Barcelona will take a considerable home field advantage into the game. Even with their recent struggles, the Blaugrana have won 21 of their last 23 at the Camp Nou without a defeat, according to Soccer Times.
The Messi-led side has also won three of their last four La Liga contests. At the same time, red-hot Getafe have won four straight in the league as they battle for their first-ever UEFA Champions League qualification. They sit three points ahead of fourth-place Atlético Madrid.
ESPN FC previews the Barcelona-Getafe showdown in the video below.Despite their current hot streak, the visitors have never beaten Barcelona in 16 meetings and have suffered losses in seven of their last eight against the Catalan side.
It should come as little surprise, then, that Barcelona enters the match as heavy favorites, according to odds posted by Soccer Times. Odds on a Barcelona win are set at 4-11, while the betting odds against a stunning upset by the club from the Spanish capital are 7-1.
When the two teams met in Madrid back in September, Luis Suarez and Junior Firpo scored goals for Barcelona on the way to a 2-0 victory, according to the BBC, despite the late sending off of defender Clement Lenglet.
Lenglet also collected a red card in last weekend's clash with Real Betis, meaning that the French international will miss Saturday's match as he serves his mandatory single-game suspension, according to 90min. Veteran defender Gerard Pique returns from a suspension of his own to pick up the slack.
On the Getafe side, defender Damian Suarez will also miss the match with a suspension due to a proliferation of yellow cards.
The FC Barcelona vs. Getafe CF La Liga match kicks off at 4 p.m. Central European Time on Saturday, February 15, at the iconic, 99,354-seat Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona. In the United States, kickoff will take place at 10 a.m. ET, 7 a.m. PT, on BeIn Sports.