FC Barcelona (1st, 76pts) vs Real Betis Balompié (6th, 49pts)
Competition/Round: 2022-23 La Liga, Matchday 32
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Sergi Roberto (out)
Real Betis Outs & Doubts: Nabil Fekir, Victor Ruiz, Youssouf Sabaly (out), Juanmi (doubt)
Date/Time: Saturday, April 29, 2023, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Sunday)
Venue: Spotify Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Carlos Del Cerro Grande
VAR: Santiago Jaime Latre
How to watch on TV: ESPN Deportes (USA), Viaplay Sports 1 (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), Sports18 (India), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Not Available (Canada), others
How to watch online: ESPN+ (USA), LaLigaTV (UK), Movistar+ (Spain), others
Following a painful defeat away to Rayo Vallecano in midweek, Barcelona look to restore the good vibes and protect their double-digt lead at the top of the La Liga table when they welcome Real Betis to the Greatest Stadium on Earth on Saturday Night Fútbol.
The Catalans played one of the worst games of the season on Wednesday in Madrid, and it was one of those nights where absolutely nothing went right. Every team, even the best ones, has at least one or two of those a season, and the good news Barça weren’t impacted in the table with the loss thanks to Girona’s amazing win over second-place Real Madrid a day earlier.
But a losing streak is never fun, and the Blaugrana return home looking to remain safely on course for the title if they can get all three points. Madrid host Almería at home just a couple of hours before Barça and will probably win that one, which will momentarily cut the lead to eight points. So a win is paramount to retain their double-digit advantage and go into the final six games of the season without any concerns.
Beating Real Betis is no easy feat, however. Despite their recent run of form with only one win in their last five and three convincing defeats that have virtually ended their hopes of securing a Champions League spot next season, the Verdiblancos remain one of the toughest opponents in the league with great coaching from Manuel Pellegrini and a talented squad from top to bottom.
They gave Barça all they could handle twice in this calendar year, with the Blaugrana prevailing on penalties in the Spanish Super Cup after a wild 2-2 draw and getting three crucial points in Seville with a tight 2-1 win. They know how to make Barça uncomfortable in possession, they are quick and decisive when they have the ball and always play with incredible intensity.
They’ve won two of the last four meetings at Camp Nou, so they’re not afraid of Barça’s home in the slightest. They are bold, they are good, and they badly need a result. This will be a brutal test, but Barça are finally fully healthy and are expected to start their Gala XI, the team that played some exceptional football in January and February, for the first time in almost three months.
With Andreas Christensen back to shore up the backline and Ousmane Dembélé ready to bring back his magical powers up front, this team looks stronger and more creative, and ready to get a big win against a very good opponent and take another big step towards clinching the championship.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde; Pedri, Busquets, De Jong; Dembélé, Lewandowski, Gavi
Real Betis (4-2-3-1): Silva; Ruibal, Felipe, Pezzella, Miranda; Rodríguez, Carvalho; Henrique, Canales, Rodri; Iglesias
The formula for Barça vs Betis at Camp Nou over the years is pretty simple: 90 minutes of high-quality entertainment and attacking football, plenty of goals and usually a pretty fun Barça win. And with the band back together, I’m thinking we’ll finally score a lot again and have a smile on our faces at the end of the night: 4-2 to the good guys.