Real Betis - Barcelona Preview: Catalan giants looking to end Liga season on a high
The Catalans travel to the Benito Villamarin on Saturday with Lionel Messi vying to clinch the Pichichi award having scored an unprecedented 50 league goals this season
By Karthick Arvinth
Chica, Paulao, Dorado, Nacho
Pozuelo, Benat, Canas, Montero
Castro, Santa Cruz
Montoya, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano
Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas
Pedro, Messi, Cuenca
Real Betis forward Roque Santa Cruz has shaken off a knock and is available for the Primera Division encounter with Barcelona.
Captain Iriney and defender Nelson (both ankle) are doubts, while Javier Matilla, Mario and Juanma are all sidelined.
Chechu Dorado, Benat and Jose Canas should all make returns to the starting line-up after missing Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Sporting Gijon due to suspension.
Barcelona duo Gerard Pique and Isaac Cuenca are both fit to play after recovering from concussion and a bruised ankle respectively, but Alexis Sanchez misses out with a thigh injury.
Seydou Keita (calf) is a doubt, while captain Carles Puyol will undergo surgery on Saturday to correct a knee problem, which is expected to rule him out of action for six weeks.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Real Betis are on a five-match unbeaten run at the Benito Villamarin since losing 3-2 to Real Madrid.
- Los Verdiblancos have avoided defeat in their last four home meetings with Barcelona (W2, D2).
- 12th-placed Betis can finish above bitter rivals Sevilla in the league table if they win on Saturday and Michel's side lose at Espanyol.
- Barcelona have won their last seven away matches in La Liga since losing 3-2 at Osasuna in February.
- The Catalans have had more possession than their opponents in all 245 official games since Pep Guardiola became coach in 2008.
- Lionel Messi (pictured right) has scored 27 goals in his last 14 appearances for Barca.
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Top 3 Predictions
Betis 0-8 FC Barcelona
- 13.69 %
Betis 0-5 FC Barcelona
- 9.49 %
Betis 0-4 FC Barcelona
- 8.43 %
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Nov 10, 2013||Betis 1 - FC Barcelona 4|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||May 5, 2013||FC Barcelona 4 - Betis 2|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Dec 9, 2012||Betis 1 - FC Barcelona 2|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||May 12, 2012||Betis 2 - FC Barcelona 2|
|Spain - Primera Division (LIGA)||Jan 15, 2012||FC Barcelona 4 - Betis 2|
|Dec 21, 2013||Betis 0 - Almeria 1||LIGA|
|Dec 18, 2013||Betis 2 - Lleida 2||ESPC|
|Dec 15, 2013||Real Sociedad 5 - Betis 1||LIGA|
|Dec 12, 2013||Betis 0 - HNK Rijeka 0||EL|
|Dec 6, 2013||Lleida 1 - Betis 2||ESPC|
|-||Jefferson Antonio Montero||Midfielder|
|30||Fabricio Agosto Ramírez||Goalkeeper|
|9||Roque Santa Cruz||Striker|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
The midfielder has been one of the standout performers for Betis this campaign and netted both goals in the club's 2-1 victory over city rivals Sevilla last week. The 25-year-old's free kicks and pinpoint long range passing will be key in unlocking the Blaugrana defence.
Barcelona may have conceded the league crown to Real Madrid, but they can find some small solace by helping the Argentine win the race for La Liga's top scorer title. Already the undisputed all-time top scorer in a single European season with 72 goals, the 24-year-old has netted five more times in the league than rival Cristiano Ronaldo going into the final round of fixtures.
The Benito Villamarin has been a bit of a bogey ground for Barca in recent years, but the Catalans will be keen to entertain one last time and make sure Guardiola's last Liga match as Blaugrana boss ends on a positive note.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed