Betis - Barcelona Preview: Blaugrana looking for eighth away win on the bounce
The Catalans have already achieved their best start to a league campaign and much of that is owed to their immense record away from home but they face a tricky test in Andalucia
By Tom Webber
Chica, Amaya, Dorado, Nacho
Benat, Canas, Sevilla
Castro, Molina, Campbell
Montoya, Pique, Mascherano, Alba
Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta
Pedro, Fabregas, Messi
Barcelona can maintain their 100 per cent record away from home in La Liga this season with a win over Betis at the Benito Villamarin stadium.
However, the Catalan giants may be forced to do so without the use of their talisman, Lionel Messi. In search of his 85th goal of 2012 in midweek, the Argentine took a knock and was forced to leave the field and thus making him a doubt for the journey down south.
Should he fail to be declared fit in time for the game, David Villa could start up front with Pedro and Andres Iniesta on either flank, while Cesc Fabregas could be moved back in to midfield. Javier Mascherano could return to the side to partner Gerard Pique in central defence, whilst Martin Montoya continues his run at right-back.
Pepe Mel received a big boost this week as centre-backs Paulao, Damien Perquis and Mario have all been passed fit, though he is unlikely to move away from the defensive pairing of Antonio Amaya and Chechu Dorado.
With Juan Carlos still a doubt ahead of Sunday's fixture, then, Joel Campbell may be rewarded for his excellent goal against Deportivo La Coruna last week with another start here.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Betis have enjoyed an impressive start to the season and currently sit in a lofty fourth position in the table.
- The Seville-based club held Barcelona to a 2-2 draw in the same fixture last term. A late equaliser from Seydou Keita stopped the hosts from picking up a momentous win.
- In fact, Betis have not lost at home to the Blaugrana in their last five home games against them.
- Victory on Sunday will bring Barcelona their eighth consecutive away win. The club record of 10 successive wins on their travels came under Pep Guardiola in the 2010-11 season.
- Lionel Messi (pictured, right) currently leads the league scoring charts with an astonishing 21 goals from the opening 14 league outings.
- The Catalan giants have continued their prolific form in front of goal from last season, netting at least twice in their previous 16 away games.
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Top 3 Predictions
Betis 1-3 FC Barcelona
- 15.84 %
Betis 0-4 FC Barcelona
- 10.94 %
Betis 0-3 FC Barcelona
- 10.62 %
|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 6, 2013||Lleida 1 - Betis 2||ESPC|
|Dec 1, 2013||Betis 2 - Rayo Vallecano 2||LIGA|
|Nov 28, 2013||Olympique Lyonnais 1 - Betis 0||EL|
|Nov 24, 2013||Sevilla 4 - Betis 0||LIGA|
|Nov 10, 2013||Betis 1 - FC Barcelona 4||LIGA|
|8||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|13||José Pinto Colorado||Goalkeeper|
The on-loan forward impressed from the start against Deportivo last weekend and he will be eager to build upon that with a solid performance against the league leaders. Campbell has enough pace about him to worry Montoya at right-back, and if he sticks out wide he could be in for a decent evening. He may need to improve upon his crossing but there is enough raw talent about him to worry his young opponent and keep Montoya penned back for large parts of the game.
Having been rested for the midweek Champions League draw with Benfica, Xavi will be extremely fresh for the visit to Seville. He is the hub of this Barcelona side and his creativity could prove deadly against a team that have conceded the fourth-most amount of goals in La Liga this season. If he is afforded too much space, then, he will duly oblige with a mesmeric moment that could cut apart the opposing defence.
Betis have enjoyed a great start to the season, but although they also hold a great record at home against Barcelona, you cannot help but think that in their current form the visitors will be too good for them. With or without Lionel Messi, the Blaugrana possess almost unrivalled talent in their ranks and they should be able to find a route past one of the most leaky defences in the league. Tito Vilanova has only dropped two points in the league as coach so far, and it would still be somewhat of a shock to see the Seville side take any more off of them.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed