Barcelona will play host to Real Betis at the Camp Nou on Sunday August 25th, with kick-off scheduled for 9 pm local time.
Match Preview Insights
- Barcelona chasing a third successive La Liga title play their first home match of the season.
- Defending champions suffered shock defeat in opening day fixture, losing at Athletic Bilbao. Betis too suffered defeat in their first match, losing in front of their own fans to Real Valladolid.
- Betis right-back Emerson joined the club in the summer from Barcelona, moving for €8 million.
- Junior Firpo who scored in this fixture for Betis last season now plays for Barcelona.
Defending champions Barcelona have lost just four league fixtures in the past two seasons. It was, therefore, something of a surprise when they lost the only match of this campaign, going down 1 – 0 to Aritz Aduriz’s spectacular overhead kick two minutes from time away at Athletic Bilbao.
That was despite them featuring two of the big name summer signings in the form of Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong. One player though who was missing from their line-up was Lionel Messi, and, without him, Barcelona struggled to create any chances. The good news for the home fans, and, by extension, the bad news as far as supporters of Betis are concerned, is that the forward is set to return on Sunday evening.
That is timely because Luis Suárez has picked up an injury, whilst fellow striker Ousmane Dembélé is set for five weeks on the side-lines with a hamstring injury.
Betis had a disappointing 2018/2019 season, finishing 13th, having finished in the Europa League places the season before. To try and improve their prospects this season, they have a new manager, Rubi, who took up his post on July 1st, and they spent €28 million on striker Borja Iglesias from Espanyol, and also brought in French playmaker Nabil Fekir from Lyon, who was on the verge of joining Liverpool last season. A deal has also been done to make the transfer of Argentine midfielder Giovani Lo Celso from PSG, but he has already been lent out to Tottenham Hotspur, who have an option to buy.
The new season though got off to a disappointing start as they lost 1 – 0 at home to Real Valladolid, who are expected to be amongst the relegation strugglers this year, and they can have limited hopes from their trip to the Camp Nou.
Even this early in the season Barcelona need to win this game so as to keep pace with their rivals at the top. Betis also started the season with a loss, and they will take heart from the fact that they won this fixture last November by four goals to three, although the man who scored the opening goal for them in that match, Junior Firpo, has now switched allegiances and plays for Barcelona.
Barcelona missed the goals and creativity of Messi last week, but he is back for this match, and should help prove the difference between the two sides, whilst Griezmann and de Jong will benefit from another 90 minutes on the pitch as the new team begins to coalesce.