Barcelona travel to Seville for the 28 Matchday of La Liga, where they will face the eight-placed Real Betis.
The Catalans have the chance to go 10 points clear on the top of the table with a victory, following Atletico’s 2-0 defeat at Bilbao.
Real Betis lag just a point behind La Liga’s top 6 and have just as much to play for in tonight’s encounter at Benito Villamarin.
They are also only six points behind the fourth place on the table, which would secure them a Champions League football next season.
Betis are once again expected to be without defensive trio Junior Firpo, Francis Guerrero and Antonio Barragan through injury.
On-loan attacker Jese Rodriguez scored against Celta last weekend, but Loren Moron is expected to return to the team in a forward position.
Don't say anything. Just RT.
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) March 16, 2019
Rafinha is still on the sidelines with a long-term knee problem for Barcelona, while Ousmane Dembele will miss three to four weeks with the hamstring injury that he picked up against Lyon.
What did the managers say
The Real Betis manager, Quique Setien believes his team is ready for another La Liga upset against the Catalan giants.
“Barcelona have very good players, but they are not infallible. We are sure that we’re able to play a good game, complicate their way of playing, and we are firmly convinced that we can produce another surprise in this fixture,” he said via Betis‘ official website.
Ernesto Valverde is expecting a tough game, against an opponent that is always motivated when they face FC Barcelona.
“In the first game we played earlier this season, we suffered a lot. We lost – the only game we lost at home. So yes, it is a vital game for us. A difficult away trip against a team we know are always motivated when they play against us.
🛸 Messi jumps so high, you don't even see the defenders. 😏 pic.twitter.com/HZRuBc11CP
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 17, 2019
“I know last year we won with a large margin, but it was a very difficult game, they really put up a battle all over the field. So tomorrow, three points against them will be very, very important,” said Valverde via Barcelona’s official website.
Betis won the reverse fixture 4-3 in a thrilling encounter at Camp Nou back in November.
21 of the last 27 meetings between Real Betis and Barcelona, had both teams finding the back of the net.
Betis won only one of the last 13 meeting with the Catalan Giants in La Liga.
Barcelona have won their last five competitive games, including an away victory in Seville, against Betis’ local rivals – Sevilla FC.
Leo Messi has already scored 26 goals and noted 12 assists in La Liga this season. He is the only player who has double-digit figures in both stats at the moment. The Argentine has scored 16 goals in 18 games against Real Betis.