After a disastrous defeat suffered at the hands of Rayo Vallecano, FC Barcelona return home to host another tough opponent in Real Betis. With the Catalans’ lead remaining at 11 points – which is, though, still a comfortable advantage – the leaders are in dire need of a positive result to move away from the deadlock into the right direction.
On the other hand, Betis is a strong opponent, one that fights for the European spots for a reason. Manuel Pellegrini’s men are currently sitting on the 6th place on the league table, and are still in the race for a Champions League spot, being 6 points behind fourth-placed Real Sociedad with still some difficult games to go for each competitor.
Though, in terms of recent form, the Verdiblancos cannot boast about a good run lately. Their last 5 games don’t show a record to be too proud of: just one win against Espanyol, one draw (vs Sociedad), and 3 losses (Atlético, Cádiz, Osasuna), collecting only 4 points in total, which isn’t compelling compared to their direct rivals’ such as Bilbao and Villarreal.
Moreover, Betis will miss some of their key players such as Nabil Fekir or Borja Iglesias. Despite being one of the most important figures of the team for the last couple of years, the French playmaker lost his prominence this season due to injuries. Thus, he only participated in 19 games across all competitions, accumulating 2 assists and 5 goals, one against us in the CDR.
On the other hand, Borja Iglesias has been the top goalscorer for the Verdiblancos with 12 goals scored in the league campaign, being the joint-fourth scorer in La Liga at the same time. Although from Betis’s side, his lethal instinct will be missed dearly up front, but the likes of Luiz Henrique, Sergio Canales, and Juanmi can all pose a real threat to ter Stegen’s goal.
Meanwhile, FC Barcelona has been bolstered by the return of two key players, Ousmane Dembélé and Andreas Christensen. The French winger has grown into arguably the most important player of the Blaugranas this season, but a hamstring injury forced him to the sidelines for 3 months. Indeed, Raphinha managed to replace him with great efficiency, but the Frenchman’s skillset remains unique in the Catalans’ roster.
Thankfully, he is back in the squad for the upcoming game along with Christensen, who has been unavailable for selection since late March. The Danish defender proved to be a stellar signing for the Catalans, having arrived for free in the summer and quickly establishing himself as a pillar of the defense.
With these crucial additions, there is a full squad available for Xavi, which leaves no excuses for dropping points tonight. The team’s form isn’t the best, that’s for sure, but the opportunity is given to turn it around.