Real Betis (5th, 58pts) vs FC Barcelona (2nd, 66pts)
Competition/Round: 2021-22 La Liga, Matchday 35
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Pedri, Gerard Piqué, Nico González, Sergiño Dest, Sergi Roberto (out), Marc-André ter Stegen (doubt)
Real Betis Outs & Doubts: Víctor Camarasa, Martín Montoya (out), Héctor Bellerín (doubt)
Date/Time: Saturday, May 7, 2022, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Sunday)
Venue: Estadio Benito Villamarín, Seville, Spain
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz
VAR: José Luis González González
How to watch on TV: Not Available (USA, Canada), LaLigaTV (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), MTV (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), others
How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), LaLigaTV (UK), others
Following a very important win against Mallorca and a full week of rest and training, Barcelona return to action for the biggest game of their La Liga season when they travel to Seville to face Real Betis at the Benito Villamarín on Saturday Night Fútbol.
After a bad run of performances and results Barça returned to winning ways and most importantly played a very good game last Sunday, with a powerful attacking display that would have easily gotten them five or six goals if they were a little more lucky and precise in front of goal.
It was a much needed improvement on a tough few weeks for Xavi Hernández and his troops, and with four games left in the season the Blaugrana need just two points to achieve their goal of qualification for next season’s Champions League. A win this weekend would make it official: Betis are fifth in the table and would be unable to catch Barça in the standings in the final three games, which would guarantee a Top 4 finish for the Catalans.
But it will not be easy. If you haven’t paid much attention to Betis this season you have missed perhaps the most entertaining team in Spanish football, with a beautiful brand of attacking football thanks to a criminally underrated coaching masterpiece by Manuel Pellegrini.
The Verdiblancos have been consistently great all season, with Pellegrini pushing every one of his players to excellent individual performances that elevate the collective to a very high level. They can score goals in every way imaginable and can mold to whatever style they need to play depending on the opposition while never losing their identity as a team that’s always in your face, never letting you breathe, always attacking even when they don’t have the ball.
Nabil Fekir is having perhaps the best season of his career and has led this Betis team to a Copa del Rey title, and they are still dreaming of a place in the Champions League if Atlético Madrid drop points in the final four games. But in order to keep that dream alive they absolutely must beat Barça on Saturday, and Betis players, coaches, fans and local media are treating this game like a final.
Pellegrini will put together his best possible gameplan, and his players will work as hard as they possibly can all night long. The Villamarín atmosphere will be tremendous, and Barça must be ready to walk into a cauldron ready for the toughest battle of their season. This will be physical and intense, but both teams also want to play football and we could be in for the marquee match of the 2021-22 La Liga season.
This will be so good.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Neto; Alves, Araujo, Eric, Alba; F. De Jong, Busquets, Gavi; Dembélé, Aubameyang, Memphis
Real Betis (4-2-3-1): Bravo; Sabaly, Pezzella, Bartra, Moreno; Rodríguez, Carvalho; Canales, Fekir, Juanmi; Iglesias
Any result away to Betis that isn’t a defeat is a good one. They’re that good and will prove to be a gigantic challenge, but I believe Barça will find a way to win and clinch a Champions League spot: 3-2 to the good guys in a great game.