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Barcelona vs Real Betis: What to look forward to this weekend

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The champions are back in action

Real Betis Balompie v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Barcelona play their first home La Liga game of the new season on Sunday at the Camp Nou and there will be plenty of expectation on the hosts after defeat to Athletic Bilbao.

Yet the visitors also head into the match after a loss. Betis were beaten 2-1 at home on the opening weekend, going down to an 89th minute winner against Real Valladolid.

Here’s a look at what to look forward to ahead of Sunday’s crunch clash:

Goals, Goals, Goals

Real Betis Balompie v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The two La Liga matches between these two teams last season were both brilliant games involving plenty of goals. Betis won a thriller 4-3 in November at the Camp Nou, Barcelona gained revenge with a 4-1 win at the Benito Villamarin in March.

Both teams have added to their attacking ranks over the summer too. Barcelona have brought in Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong, Betis have signed Nabil Fekir from Lyon and Espanyol striker Borja Iglesias.

Of course Barcelona are definitely without Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele for this one and have yet to find the back of the net in the league this season. However, there will be big pressure on the team to perform after their opening day disaster and in front of their own fans.

Pique’s hits 500 for Barca

Athletic Club v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

When Gerard Pique steps on to the pitch on Sunday he will be making his 500th appearance for Barcelona in all competitions.

The centre-back is expected to start the game in central defence alongside either Clement Lenglet or Samuel Umtiti on what will be an historic night for the 32-year-old.

His record is pretty extraordinary too. In 499 matches he has 359 wins, 90 draws and 50 defeats. He’s also bagged 46 goals during that time too - another one on Sunday would do nicely.

The return of Messi?

FC Barcelona v Arsenal - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images

Sunday’s match may also see the return to action of Lionel Messi. The captain has been out of action since picking up a calf problem at the start of pre-season.

Messi was forced to sit out Barcelona’s defeat to Athletic and the champions struggled without him, but he returned to full training in midweek and it’s likely that he will feature.

The Argentine will surely relish taking on Betis if he does play. He scored five goals against them in two La Liga appearances last season and his return will give the team a big boost.

Of course if he doesn’t quite make the starting XI it leaves Ernesto Valverde with some tough decisions to make in attack with Suarez and Dembele also out.