Koeman’s arrival in Barcelona does not seem to bring the expected results yet. They might have secured nine points in the first three games of Champions League but their domestic campaign is far for satisfactory. They are still stuck on the twelfth of the table with only eight points. This weekend, Lionel Messi and Co once again attempt to seal their third win in La Liga while taking on Real Betis at home. Manuel Pellegrini’s men are currently sitting on the seventh and collecting four points more than Blaugrana.
The teams’ previous games
Barcelona had to strive for another win in the Champions League last Wednesday. They only won 2-1 over Dynamo Kiev at home. Messi was on the score sheet again from a penalty. On the second half, Gerard Pique doubled their lead through his header converting Ansu Fati’s cross. However, Viktor Tsygankov pulled back ten minutes later.
Meanwhile, Real Betis was back on their winning ways after crushing Elche 3-1 last weekend. Antonio Sanabria finally opened his account this season before Cristian Tello bagged a brace. Elche could only respond once by Josan. It was their fourth win of the season.
Ronald Koeman should consider preparing a back-up plan for his favourite 4-2-3-1 as the Catalan side has not been able to perform their best yet. The return of Marc Ter Stegen between the sticks should reduce their concern on the defence line. Yet, Pique’s and Clement Lenglet’s back-up, Ronald Araujo and Samuel Umtiti are sidelined along with Phillipe Coutinho. Thus, deploying 4-3-1-2 seems to be a suitable option. Messi will be featuring behind Antoine Griezmann and Ansu Fati and supported by Frankie de Jong, Miralem Pjanic and Carles Alena or Riqui Puig.
Manuel Pellegrini might still be employing 4-2-3-1 formation with the possible transition to 4-4-1-1. Since Betis’ forwards have not been convincing so far, Nabil Fekir could get a nod to occupy the false nine role supported by Sergio Canales as the number ten. On the flanks, two former Barcelona men, Martin Montoya and Cristian Tello will be the wingers as well as full backs while Guido Rodriguez and William Carvalho are operating in the middle. The only names ruled out for this fixture are Andres Guadrado, Juanmi, Dani Martin and Victor Camarasa.
Players to watch
Despite only scoring through penalties, Lionel Messi is still Barcelona’s top performers so far. Some other key figures to watch are Ansu Fati, Frankie De Jong and their goalie Marc Ter-Stegen.
Real Betis has a number of former Barcelona man such as Cristian Tello, Martin Montoya, Emerson, Antonio Sanabria, Juan Miranda and Marc Batra. The first and the last one has been their key man in the past few seasons.
Barcelona vs Real Betis Prediction
Koeman’s men must quickly end their domestic winless run to lift up their confidence. A win here would be helpful to do so although it is not an easy task, especially when there is a band of La Masia on the opponent’s side. A narrow win could still be achieved by the home side.