MX23RW : Friday, May 24 19:36:42| >> :600:42247786:42247786:
Jan 21, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Estadio Benito Villamarín (Sevilla)
Attendance: 53,426
Real Betis
FT(HT: 0-0)
Rakitic (59'), Messi (64', 80'), Suarez (69', 89')

Preview: Real Betis vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides the team news, lineups and a full preview of Sunday's La Liga clash between Real Betis and Barcelona.

Barcelona will attempt to further stretch their advantage at the top of La Liga when they visit Real Betis on Sunday night.

The Catalan outfit will enter this weekend's round of fixtures nine points clear at the top of the table, but will face a Betis side that have won their last two to move within touching distance of sixth-placed Sevilla after 19 matches of the 2017-18 campaign.

Real Betis

Barcelona - as expected - are the favourites entering this weekend's clash in Seville, but Quique Setien's side have been the entertainers of the top flight this season, and will fancy their chances of causing the away side's back four a whole host of problems.

Betis have won 5-3 against Sevilla and 3-2 against Leganes in their last two league matches, with back-to-back victories seeing them occupy seventh position in the table.

Los Verdiblancos are only two points off sixth-placed Sevilla, and entering this round of matches, only Barcelona (52) and Valencia (40) have scored more goals than Betis (33) in the league this term.

That said, Setien's side have shipped 36 down the other end, which is among the worst defensive records in the league. One thing is for certain - Betis will not attempt to play out a goalless draw against the league leaders this weekend.

That said, Betis have actually only won one of their last six home league matches, and Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao have both stopped the Seville club from scoring on home soil in recent weeks.

Since returning to La Liga for the 2015-16 campaign, Betis have finished 10th and 15th in the top flight. They are well on course to better both of those this term, and will have their eye on their highest finish since the 2004-05 campaign, which brought fourth.

With Betis failing to keep a clean sheet against Barcelona in the league since 2002, it promises to be a fascinating clash this weekend.

Recent form: LWLWW


Sergio Busquets in action for Barcelona in October 2016© Offside

Barcelona will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat since August when they travel to Betis on Sunday night.

A late goal from Oscar Melendo saw Espanyol record a 1-0 win over their bitter rivals in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final on Wednesday night.

Last weekend, it did appear that the Catalan outfit would lose for the first time in La Liga this season when they fell 2-0 behind to Real Sociedad at the Anoeta – a stadium where they had not won in the league since 2007.

The league leaders stormed back to record a 4-2 victory, however, as they moved further clear at the summit. Barcelona have now won 16 and drawn three of their 19 league fixtures this season, with that run of form bringing 51 points. They are currently nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid, and 19 ahead of reigning champions Real Madrid.

It really has been a storming season for Barcelona, who will fancy their chances of turning things around in the Copa del Rey against Espanyol next week. The Champions League also returns next month, and Ernesto Valverde's side have the small matter of a last-16 two-legged affair with Chelsea.

Atletico, Real Madrid and Valencia will all have the opportunity to close the gap before Barcelona take to the field, but the Catalan giants will fancy their chances of returning to winning ways following the disappointment of the Espanyol defeat.

Recent form: DWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WDWWWL

Team News

Andres Iniesta in action for Barcelona in December 2016© SilverHub

Betis will have defensive duo Zouhair Feddal and Aissa Mandi available following suspension, and the pair are both expected to start.

Joel Campbell and Antonio Sanabria are still on the sidelines, however, and will miss out alongside full-back Antonio Barragan.

Cristian Tello joined Betis from Barcelona last summer, and the Spaniard will line up against his former club this weekend.

As for Barcelona, January signing Philippe Coutinho is still on the sidelines with a thigh problem.

Ousmane Dembele is also missing after picking up another injury against Sociedad last weekend, while Samuel Umtiti and Paco Alcacer are still unavailable.

However, Paulinho and Andres Iniesta should both pass late fitness tests for the visitors, who will have Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez as a front two once again.

Real Betis possible starting lineup:
Adan; Guerrero, Feddal, Mandi, Durmisi; Boudebouz, Guardado, Ruiz; Tello, Leon, Joaquin

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Vermaelen, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Iniesta, Paulinho; L.Suarez, Messi

Head To Head

Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 13 league fixtures with Betis - winning 10 times in the process.

Valverde's side recorded a 2-0 win over Betis at Camp Nou on the opening weekend of the season, but the points were shared in a 1-1 draw when the pair locked horns in this stadium last term.

That said, Betis have not actually beaten Barcelona in the league since March 2008, which is an indication of the task facing the home side this weekend.

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We say: Real Betis 1-3 Barcelona

It should be a cracking game of football in Seville this weekend. Betis will attempt to play on the front foot against the league leaders, which should create an open and entertaining fixture. Barcelona should have enough to collect all three points, however, as they continue to march towards the title.

Who will win Sunday's La Liga clash between Real Betis and Barcelona?

Real Betis
Real Betis
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Ernesto Valverde pictured in 2016
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