FC Barcelona (7th, 23pts) vs Real Betis Balompié (5th, 27pts)*
Competition/Round: 2021-22 La Liga, Matchday 16
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Pedri, Martin Braithwaite, Sergi Roberto, Sergio Agüero, Dani Alves (out)
Real Betis Outs & Doubts: Youssouf Sabaly, Nabil Fekir (out), Germán Pezzella, Claudio Bravo, Martín Montoya (doubt)
Date/Time: Saturday, December 4, 2021, 4.15pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 3.15pm GMT (UK), 10.15am ET, 7.15am PT (USA), 8.45pm IST (India)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Pablo González Fuertes
VAR: Antonio Mateu Lahoz
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA), TSN 1 (Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), LaLigaTV (UK), others
Following a crucial win away to Villarreal and a full week of training in beautiful Catalonia, Barcelona return to action for another big La Liga match as they welcome high-flying Real Betis to the Greatest Stadium on Earth for what promises to be a highly entertaining affair.
Ever since taking over for Ronald Koeman a month ago, Xavi Hernández has brought the fun back to Barça. Even with all the defensive concerns there is no doubt that watching the Blaugrana play is fun again, and while we wait for the rebuilding process to bring back the glory days it isn’t the worst thing in the world to have fun watching our favorite team.
But winning is fun too, and Barça have won two games in a row in the league for the first time all season. Another team who is doing plenty of winning is Betis, who have somehow fallen a bit under the radar in the conversation of the best teams in La Liga. Manuel Pellegrini’s side is playing excellent football, scoring goals for fun and looks like a serious contender for a Champions League place at the moment.
That’s why beating them is so important for Barça: a win against what will probably be a direct Top 4 rival will mean not only a big jump in the table but also a big boost of confidence, one that is absolutely necessary with the season-defining trip to Bayern Munich in the Champions League just a few days away.
Xavi may not need to rotate his team having had a full week of training and the Bayern game coming on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, so we’ll probably see Barça’s strongest team for this one. And the strongest team at the top of its game will be needed to beat Betis. Make no mistake about it: they are REALLY good, very talented and very well coached. Three points will be massive, but don’t be surprised if this one ends in a draw — or worse.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Piqué, Alba; Nico, Busquets, De Jong; Dembélé, Memphis, Gavi
Real Betis (4-2-3-1): Silva; Bellerín, Bartra, Ruiz, Moreno; Rodríguez, Guardado; Canales, Rodri, Juanmi; José
Barça and Betis always play the exact same game at Camp Nou every time: they attack each other like crazy, score all the goals and Barça somehow end up with the victory. But Barça’s attack isn’t that great these days so I can’t see them winning a shootout: 2-2 draw.