On Saturday, 30th of April 2016, FC Barcelona will visit Andalusia to measure forces with Real Betis at Estadio Benito Villamarín for Round 36 of the Spanish Liga BBVA.
After their midweek smashing win over Deportivo de La Coruña, FC Barcelona extended their winning streak by overcoming Sporting de Gijón at Camp Nou by 6-0. Contrary to what happen at Riazor, the Catalan team struggled to control the match, especially during the first-half, but still managed to go into half-time winning by 1-0.
The visitors did good and gave Barça a hard day on the job until the minute 74’, when their world started to crumble. An array of controversial penalties in favour of FC Barcelona and the red card shown to Ognjen Vranjes were the final blow to the resistance of the Asturian team, that left Camp Nou with an extremely sour taste in their mouths.
The Blaugranas didn’t have the best of days out there, but in the end, all that matters were the precious three points which allowed them to maintain their place at the top of La Liga’s table.
With just three matches to go until the end of the season, FC Barcelona cannot allow any more upsets, otherwise they would risk losing the title to their closest contenders. Next weekend’s match against Real Betis is an enormous test to Barça’s consistency and the Catalan team will surely need to dig deep in order to claw the three points from their visit to Benito Villamarín.
Next Saturday will mark the 100th match between both sides and such clash is of the utmost importance not only for FC Barcelona, but also for Real Betis, who are still pursuing one point, which would automatically allow them to avoid relegation.
For that particular fixture, Luis Enrique will still not be able to rely on the services of Sandro Ramírez and Thomas Vermaelen, who remain sidelined due to injury. Jérémy Mathieu is on the final stage of his recovery process and is in doubt out there.
As for Real Betis, things are far more complicated for Juan Merino, who have several important players, such as Antonio Adán, Álvaro Cejudo and Dani Ceballos, on the verge of suspension, and three more, Digard, Piccini and Vargas, definitely sidelined because of injury.
FC Barcelona’s visit to Andalusia will certainly not be a walk in the park and although the Catalan team has won the last two times they played at Benito Villamarín, they will need to work hard in order to claw the three points. That being said, this might probably be Barça’s strongest line-up for upcoming fixture against Los Verdiblancos.
Much has been said about Claudio Bravo’s recent performances and the internal competition coming in from Marc-André ter Stegen, but the Chilean goalie will surely be the one Luis Enrique will choose for the upcoming visit to Benito Villamarín.
Dani Alves, who was relegated to the bench against Sporting de Gijón last weekend, might force his way into the starting XI once again and play alongside Piqué, Mascherano and Jordi Alba at Barça’s defensive sector.
This isn’t a good time to test new routines or different styles of play and, for that reason, Luis Enrique will surely not change the usual trio (Iniesta, Rakitic and Busquets) in the Catalan team midfield line.
Up front, no changes as well, as Luis Enrique will surely field his dynamic trio (Messi, Neymar and Suárez) once again.