Real Betis host Barcelona at Benito Villamarin in this exciting tie on Matchday 22. Ronald Koeman’s side currently stands in 2nd place behind leaders Atletico. Betis find themselves at the 7th position on the league table. After a miserable start to the campaign, Barca now looks a settled outfit. On the other side, Real Betis have been exciting this season again but have been leaking a lot of goals. This should be an interesting match as Barca look to maintain their spot whereas Betis will look to climb up the points table.
The Catalans enter this contest on the back of a remarkable comeback win against Granada in the Copa Del Rey Quarter-Finals. They have been unbeaten in La Liga for the last 10 games notching 8 wins in the process.
Betis had heartbreak in Copa Del Rey Quarter-Finals against Athletic Club. They conceded an equalizer in the 94th minute in added time of the 2nd half. They eventually lost via penalties. However, Pellegrini’s side has not lost a game in their last 5 outings in the league with 3 wins and 2 draws.
This particular fixture has been a goal-fest in the last couple of seasons. In the 18-19, Barcelona was beaten at home by Setien’s side with a scoreline of 4-3. Barcelona took revenge in the reverse fixture comfortably beating Betis at their home 4-1. In the previous season, Barcelona beat Real Betis 5-2 at home and 3-2 away at Villamarin. This season, the Catalan side repeated their previous scoreline of 5-2 at Camp Nou. We don’t expect anything less in the reverse fixture as well.
Team News and Lineups
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is set to start in goal for Barcelona. The backline is likely to consist of Clement Lenglet or Umtiti and Ronald Araujo with Jordi Alba and Sergio Dest at left-back and right-back spots respectively. Sergi Roberto is sidelined due to an injury. The midfield looks set with Sergio Busquets, Frenkie De Jong, and Pedri. Lionel Messi will lead the attack alongside Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele.
Real Betis (4-2-3-1)
Betis will miss the services of Diego Lainez who has tested positive for Coronavirus. In his absence, Lorenzo Garcia will play up front with the likes of Nabil Fekir, Joaquin, and Rodri Sanchez behind him. Sergio Canales and Paul Akouokou will form the double pivot for the home side. Alex Moreno, Victor Ruiz, Aissa Mandi, and Emerson will form the backline with Joel Robles guarding the goal.
Game Plan and Tactics
Ronald Koeman (FC Barcelona)
Barcelona is expected to control possession for a majority of the game and the center halves will be close to half-line. The Catalans will play centrally as well as on the wings. Moreover, we can see De Jong and Pedri in much more advanced positions than the forward line. The rejuvenated partnership of Messi and Griezmann will be key for the visitors to break the defense of the hosts. Dembele will drag the full-backs wide providing space for Frenkie and Pedri to exploit. Busquets will be pivotal in stopping Fekir and Joaquin.
Manuel Pellegrini (Real Betis)
Pellegrini, on the other hand, will look to counter the away side with the pace of Fekir and Tello. Canales will be important to stop the likes of De Jong and Pedri to get into space behind. Barcelona’s backline has been vulnerable against pace and the hosts will look to take advantage of the same. The keeper can be seen providing a lot of long balls to exploit the spaces left behind full-backs. It will be a tough night for Alex Moreno as he has to close Messi and Dembele on the left side of Betis’ defense.
Players to watch out for
The Barca talisman will be the key to unlock the defense. He can be seen playing through balls to Grizzi and De Jong. He will look to increase his goal tally and be back atop in Pichichi charts.
The French forward has been phenomenal in 2021 bagging 7 goals and 6 assists in 10 games so far. He will look to continue his form in this match too.
Frenkie De Jong
De Jong has been operating in the box in the recent matches. He also has been important in winning and keeping possession in the 3rd half of the pitch.
Since his introduction to the first team, he has been excellent in his role. His chemistry with Messi is a very joyous sight to watch.
Fekir will be crucial in all the counter-attacks that the home side creates. His ability to find the killer pass can prove to be decisive for the hosts.
He is aging like wine. The older, the finer. His role will be crucial going forward and closing the Barce defenders
Stopping the midfield will be Canales’ duty in the Betis lineup along with starting counter-attacks. Over the top balls is his specialty.
Conclusion and Prediction
We can see a lot of goals in this fixture. Keeping a clean sheet will be difficult for both outfits. However, with recent performances, Barcelona goes in as favorites. Here at Ball That Matters, we predict a 4-2 victory for the Catalan giants with Griezmann and Fekir scoring for the respective teams.
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