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November 10, 2013 10:00 PM SAST
Estadio Benito Villamarín — Sevilla
Referee:‬ José González‎
Attendance:‬ 45000‎
90+2′ (PG) Jorge Molina
Neymar 36′
Pedro 37′

Real Betis-Barcelona Preview: Messi & Co. seek 25th Liga game without defeat

The champions will be keen to consolidate their place at the top of the table before the international break against a side who have not beaten them in four attempts

By Alex Fisher

Barcelona forward Neymar opens the scoring against Real Madrid

Barcelona will look to stretch their unbeaten record in La Liga to 25 matches when they face Real Betis on Sunday.

The league leaders have not lost since a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in March and they are the only side still unbeaten after the opening 12 matches of this season.

Things are not quite so positive for Betis, who are languishing in the bottom three in the table and have not won in five league games.

However, their triumph over Vitoria Guimaraes in the Europa League on Thursday will give them a boost heading into the clash with Barca.

Chuli's last-minute winner in Portugal lifted a little bit of the pressure on coach Pepe Mel, but recording back-to-back victories will be a tall order.

Betis have not beaten Barca in their last four attempts and the Catalan side have won 20 of the previous 36 clashes.

That record makes midfielder Xavi confident of going into the international break with another victory.

"It is important to finish this cycle of seven or eight games between La Liga and the Champions League well," he said.

"The balance is positive and I think that we have proven to be excellent in terms of the results, but we can be improved at a collective level. Even so, we are on a good line.

"We are at a good level and we know the demands for Barca."

Carles Puyol and Marc Bartra are expected to start together in central defence for the second time in three league matches as Gerardo Martino looks to rest Javier Mascherano, while Gerard Pique continues top struggle with a groin injury.

Jordi Alba is still unavailable with a hamstring injury, while Jonathan dos Santos and Ibrahim Afellay are long-term absentees with knee problems.

Betis, meanwhile, have eight players unavailable, including Damien Perquis (broken jaw) and Juanfran (hamstring).

However, Paulao and Antonio Amaya both returned to training this week and could be involved, while Javi Chica is back from suspension.

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Last Five Matches
Team News
Available Squads
13Guillermo SaraGoalkeeper
33Markus SteinhöferMidfielder
25Jordi FiguerasDefender
36José CaroDefender
-Xavi TorresMidfielder
17Juan CarlosMidfielder
19Jorge MolinaStriker
30Stephan AndersenGoalkeeper
12Dídac VilàDefender
16B. RodríguezStriker
1Víctor ValdésGoalkeeper
5Carles PuyolDefender
22Daniel AlvesDefender
4Cesc FàbregasMidfielder
17Alex SongMidfielder
10Lionel MessiStriker
13José Pinto ColoradoGoalkeeper
8Andrés Iniesta LujánMidfielder
14Javier MascheranoMidfielder
24Sergi RobertoMidfielder
9Alexis SánchezStriker
Players to Watch
Jorge Molina
Jorge Molina
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 19
Games Goals YC RC
29 8 3 0
Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
27 26 1 0
Editor's Prediction
Betis 0
Barca 3
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo
28 6
Diego Costa Diego Costa
Atl. Madrid
27 5
Lionel Messi Lionel Messi
26 6
Karim Benzema Karim Benzema
17 0
Alexis Sánchez Alexis Sánchez
17 0