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How should Barcelona line up against Real Betis?

Valverde has decisions to make ahead of the big kick off

FC Barcelona v Chapecoense - Joan Gamper Trophy Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Barcelona take on Real Betis on Sunday with an opportunity to kick off the Liga campaign on the front foot and begin to forget about the Super Cup loss to Madrid.

However, it will also be an emotional evening at Camp Nou, after the tragic and despicable terrorist events that unfolded in Barcelona on Thursday, and both teams will pay tribute to those affected, wearing black armbands and with a minute’s silence to be held.

Barcelona’s players will also not have their names on the back of their kit, just “Barcelona”. Events like these remind us that football is just a game and that in situations like these, no matter what club you support, we must all come together.

As it is the first game of the La Liga season, Barcelona must come prepared with the right mindset and be organized against a Real Betis side that finished 15th in the league last year, but always try their hardest against the biggest clubs.

With some puzzling selections to start off the year, the pressure is on Ernesto Valverde to find a first choice starting XI, capable of providing a beautiful style of football, along with invention all over the pitch.

Barcelona are already facing injury issues going into the new season with Luis Suárez, Rafinha, and Thomas Vermaelen certainly out, while Andres Iniesta and Gerard Piqué are doubtful and Valverde has to figure out all levels of the 4-3-3 formation that will most likely be used.

Attack: Deulofeu, Alcacer and Messi?

On the front line, with the absence of Suárez, Paco Alcácer should be given the opportunity to prove himself. Now in his second season with Barcelona, fans should not forget that Paco is still only 23 and if properly trusted, could gain the confidence of an elite striker at such a young age.

FC Barcelona v Chapecoense - Joan Gamper Trophy Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

The expectations of playing for Barcelona can affect any player, which we have seen over the years, but hopefully Alcácer can prove a point and earn his new manager’s trust with a quality showing.

On the right or in the middle, Messi has shown that he will have to carry the squad this year more than ever, and will certainly get the start. But it’s on the left wing, where Valverde has his first selection headache.

Both Denis Suarez and Gerard Deulofeu have showed moments of quality in pre-season games, but now comes the time for a player to impress for 90 minutes. While Denis showed some promise against Madrid, Deulofeu should get the start and another opportunity to display whether or not he is a player of Barcelona quality.

Midfield: Rakitic, Busquets and Gomes?

In the midfield, Iniesta’s muscular problem provides Valverde with his second selection headache. Does he start Andre Gomes, a player who underwhelmed last season, against Betis or will new signing Paulinho be given a chance?

Since Paulinho has just arrived and might not be match fit for a La Liga game, Gomes is the more likely option, but after last season, the pressure will be on him to perform even at this early stage.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Supercopa de Espana: 1st Leg Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images,

On the right side of the midfield, Ivan Rakitić has proved to be an integral part in the Barcelona machine. The Croatian, when trusted, has been one of the most consistent players in Catalonia since signed from Sevilla. Rounding out the midfield, Sergio Busquets should start in the defensive midfield role.

Defence: Ter Stegen: Semedo, Umtiti, Mascherano and Alba

Into the back four, Valverde has been given quality minutes and consistency from Jordi Alba and Samuel Umtiti throughout pre-season and these two players will certainly be in his first eleven.

Pique’s injury means Javier Mascherano will most likely be given some game time and willcertainly be looking to impress. Even though Mascherano is getting older, the former Liverpool man still has one of the best positional minds in the league.

To round out the back four, the right-back position has been the position most discussed by fans and pundits alike. Aleix Vidal was extremely underwhelming against Madrid and Sergi Roberto, looks more likely to be restored to midfield this season.

FC Barcelona v Chapecoense - Joan Gamper Trophy Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Nélson Semedo proved his quality and invention against Real Madrid in the second leg and should be given the opportunity to demonstrate some consistency. His quality is unarguable and the player should be given the chance to develop connections with his team-mates.

It’s been a trying summer for Barca and they go into the game following the Supercopa defeats to Madrid, the loss of Neymar and having been so far frustrated in the transfer market.

However, Sunday’s game gives Barca the chance to go for the win which would raise morale and ensure their Liga campaign gets off on a positive foot. Força Barça!

How should Barca line up against Betis? Let us know your line-ups in the comments below!

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