Luis Enrique takes his Barcelona side to face Real Betis without Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, with doubts over Sergi Roberto’s fitness.
Barcelona have turned it around and are now back to within touching distance of the top of the La Liga table. A win against Betis will see Luis Enrique and his men back atop the standings, albeit for a short while at the very least.
But they will be without the cultured midfield duo of Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, with both nursing injuries. Denis Suarez is expected to continue in Iniesta’s stead as Luis Enrique highlighted the midfielder’s ability, touting him as a potential long-term successor to Iniesta.
“Suarez could be Iniesta’s long-term replacement, why not? Players have to evolve. He has to improve, but Iniesta is Harry Potter, he makes magic, and it’s difficult to find another. But Denis is on the right path and I hope he can be (Iniesta’s long-term replacement),” echoed Enrique after their Copa del Rey win, as per ESPN.
Elsewhere, Javier Mascherano and Sergi Roberto are both doubtful for the game, and while Samuel Umtiti might be deployed by Luis Enrique in Mascherano’s stead, the boss would be hoping Roberto gets fit in time to make the trip.
Ivan Rakitic and Andre Gomes are set to partner Denis Suarez in the middle of the park. As far as the forward positions go, the feared MSN trio is set to start again in a crunch tie. Luis Suarez has been in especially menacing form against Real Betis in recent times, with five goals in the last three meetings.
Barcelona had a comfortable outing at Nou Camp against Real Betis early in the season but Luis Enrique reflected on the changes Betis have undergone and how the match could prove to be a challenge for his Barcelona side, while also maintaining his aim is to gain three invaluable points in the race for the La Liga title.
“Betis have changed in many ways since the game earlier this season. In their stadium, Betis will try to generate problems for us, they are in great home form. All that matters to me is the game at the Villamarín, and getting three points to keep putting pressure on the teams above us,” said the Barca manager.