Real Betis SAD
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Wednesday, 30th December, 2015
As the La Liga resumes after Christmas, Real Betis have the formidable task of paying world champions FC Barcelona a little visit and a fully rested Blaugrana side is not one to be messed around with.
Beticos manager Pepe Mel would have been plotting a Barca defeat all Christmas, and it would be interesting to see what he comes up with to stop a rampaging FC Barcelona side on their own home turf.
Team News & Tactical Brief
The Catalan outfit has been fully rested in the Christmas period, after a bit of fixture congestion left them with a few injury problems during the FIFA Club World Cup which they inevitably won with relative ease.
While fullback Douglas and midfielder Rafinha are still out injured, Brazilian superstar Neymar is set to came back into the squad after regaining fitness.
Manager Luis Enrique is expected to field a full-strength starting XI, which is certainly not good news for Real Betis, especially as the match is being played at the Camp Nou.
One thing that would worry the FC Barcelona fan would be the fact that Barca have drawn both of their last two La Liga matches, which has allowed Atletico Madrid to slowly close down the points gap at the top of the table. Both the teams now stand with 35 points each at the top of the table, but FC Barcelona are just ahead by virtue of goal difference. Anything less than a draw might mean that the Rojiblancos would overtake them at the top of the table.
Enrique is set to go with the familiar face of Claudio Bravo in goal and his best back four with Pique and Mascherano in central defence, and Alba and Alves as fullbacks. Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta are set to be the main creative force within the midfield with Sergio Busquets sitting behind them as the holding player. The front-three would be manned by the formidable MSN trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, which means a rout could well be on the cards.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Bravo; Alba, Pique, Mascherano, Alves; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta; Neymar, Suarez, Messi.
Real Betis SAD
Real Betis might look like they are sitting pretty on the 11th position on the table, but realistically they are just six points clear of the relegation zone right now. Mel’s men would be trying to put as many points between themselves and the drop zone, as we go into the last match of 2015.
Mel normally likes to go with an attacking 4-4-2 formation, but he might make an exception in this game to pack more players into the midfield area and play a defensive 4-2-3-1.
Real Betis have also not fared very well in their last three La Liga encounters and would be looking to get a point from their trip to the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.
The central defensive pair of Heiko Westermann and Bruno Gonzalez would have their work cut out for them, and would need all the help they can get from fullbacks Cristiano Piccini and Juan Vargas, and defensive midfield pivots Alfred N’Diaye and Petros, to keep the MSN trio out. Attacking midfielder Dani Ceballos would also need to help his fellow midfielders out, with the likes of Rakitic and Iniesta wreaking havoc from the middle of the park.
Ruben Castro has been the Beticos’ striker this season, and would have to do a lot of hold-up play, in order to provide some respite to the teammates who need to do all the dirty work at the back. He would have help form wingers Joaquin and Alvaro Cejudo, but the two wide men would also have to track back a lot, with the FC Barcelona fullbacks bombing down the flanks.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Adan; Vargas, Gonzalez, Westermann, Piccini; N’Diaye, Petros; Cejudo, Ceballos, Joaquin; Castro.
- FC Barcelona have failed to win any of their last three La Liga or European matches.
- Real Betis are also on a winless run in their last three La Liga engagements.
- Both N’Diaye and Cejudo are just one booking away from a susbension.
- Real Betis have conceded at least three goals in their last six matches at the Camp Nou.
- FC Barcelona are on a 15-match unbeaten run at home, in the La Liga.
Player to watch out for
The former Liverpool FC man is in the form of his life, scoring goals at will this season. In fact, he almost single handedly carried FC Barcelona through to the FIFA Club world Cup title, earlier this month. Having already scored 13 goal in the La Liga so far, Suarez would be looking to increase his tally and get the golden boot award in the La Liga this season.
FC Barcelona 4-1 Real Betis SAD
With FC Barcelona fully rested, and Enrique expected to field a full-strength team, it is difficult to see Real Betis coming away with anything in this match, especially because it is being played at the Camp Nou. In fact, a complete rout could be on the cards, if the Beticos are not on their guard.