La Liga returns after an entertaining Champions League outing as Barcelona face Real Betis at home. Unlike Real Betis, Barcelona are in good form being unbeaten in their last five Liga games and face the Seville side with Lionel Messi back in contention.
Fifteenth placed Betis have struggled for goals this season, while Barcelona have been dominant at Camp Nou. This points to a comfortable win, although Betis won’t give up without a fight.
Quique Setien has been under pressure, and if Betis don’t improve their performances they will be facing a relegation battle. Let’s have a look at the things Barcelona need to do to win against Betis:
Play a less risky game in terms of fouls
Yep, you read that right. And it doesn’t point to the strengths or the weaknesses of the two teams but the referee who will be officiating this fixture. Antonio Lahoz is famous for his love of showing the card and, as the stats say, he has officiated six La Liga matches this season and has already dished out thrice that amount of yellow cards. Although there are others like Hernandez Hernandez who have given a lot more yellow cards, Lahoz is infamous for some of his decisions and has been criticized by Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola for the same reason. Looking at his record, it’s better to keep the aggressive part sidelined for this one so this guy stays out of the headlines.
Stop Betis from gaining possession and settling down
Real Betis were La Liga’s surprise package last season as they earned qualification for the Europa League. But they have been unable to play the same quality of football this season. However, Betis have enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and are only behind the Blaugranes in terms of possession recorded per game, a mammoth 63%, second only to Barca’s 64%. This miniscule difference coupled with an average passing accuracy of around 88% indicates that they are a passing force to be reckoned with. If they gain possession, Barcelona will find it difficult to score. So the best way is not to let them have the ball. Betis like to control the game in the opposition’s half but have also shown weakness converting scoring chances. If Barcelona pounce on the counter attack, their chances to score will become significantly higher.
Use home advantage to attack to the fullest
It’s true that Barcelona sometimes struggle in away games but have been great in their home fixtures, the last one being an entertainer against Real Madrid. Real Betis have had a string of losses at Camp Nou: they haven’t won in any of the last 16 matches played (L14 D2). Not to forget that they have won only one of their last five away league games. This gives Barcelona a big advantage in terms of winning this fixture. Although the Blaugranes are struggling in terms of absentees for the game with a host of attackers set to miss out, they remain hot favourites to win it. Betis sit 15th in the table but they have conceded 12 goals, two less than than Barcelona. But Barcelona have been more prolific in terms of goals scored (31 to their 8), and if they continue their free scoring momentum, there’s no chance Betis can make a comeback.