Real Betis (8th, 39pts) vs FC Barcelona (1st, 63 pts)*
*Points and positions at the time of writing on Saturday
Competition/Round: 2018-19 La Liga, Matchday 28
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ousmane Dembélé, Rafinha, Thomas Vermaelen, Jeison Murillo, Jean-Clair Todibo (out)
Real Betis Outs & Doubts: Júnior Firpo, Francis (out), Antonio Barragán (doubt)
Date/Time: Sunday, March 17, 2019, 8.45pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 7.45pm GMT (UK), 3.45pm ET, 12.45pm PT (USA), 1.15am IST (India, Monday)
Venue: Estadio Benito Villamarín, Seville, Spain
Referee: Ricardo De Burgos Bengoetxea
How to watch on TV: beIN SPORTS (USA & Canada), Eleven Sports 1, ITV 4 (UK), SuperSport 7 (Nigeria), Movistar Partidazo (Spain), others
How to stream: beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA & Canada), ITV Hub (UK), Movistar+ (Spain), others
Following a spectacular 5-1 win over Lyon to guarantee a place in the Champions League quarterfinals, Barcelona turn their attentions to La Liga for the final game before a two-week international break: the Blaugrana travel to Seville to face Real Betis, and this could not be a bigger game at this point of the season.
The most important reason why this is a giant game for Barça is the loss Atlético Madrid suffered away to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, which means the leaders can be 10 points clear at the top of the table with 10 matches left. Simply put, a victory over Betis will make Barça overwhelming favorites to win the league, maybe even virtual champions if you’re really optimistic.
Another thing that will motivate Barça to win at the Benito Villamarín is that Betis are the last team to beat the Blaugrana in the league this season. The Verdiblancos went into Camp Nou and absolutely destroyed Barça, despite the 4-3 scoreline. Betis showed zero fear and dominated possesion for most of the game, and Quique Setién made Ernesto Valverde look foolish.
Valverde’s Barça haven’t lost in the league since that game, though, and they’re a much better team now than they were four months ago, so expect a stronger performance this time. This will be an incredible game of football, and it’s a chance for Barça to pretty much win the league. I cannot wait for Sunday night.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Suárez, Coutinho
Real Betis (3-4-3): Pau López; Mandi, Bartra, Sidnei; Tello, Lo Celso, Carvalho, Guardado; Canales, Jesé, Joaquín
This is going to be WILD, and Betis will be every bit as good as you can expect, but I think Barça know just how big this game is for the title race and also want to avenge that loss at Camp Nou: 4-2 to the champions.