|Barça kick off La Liga defence against Real Betis
After the Spanish Super Cup triumph, Barça host Real Betis in their first game of the 2016/2017 ‘La Liga’ season as they look to defend their crown in a quest to make it the 25th in their history.
Barça won their sixth League title in eight seasons last season after beating Granada 3-0 on the final day. The Catalan giants begin their quest to retain the title and make it three consecutive triumphs when they welcome Andalusian club Real Betis to the Camp Nou for the league season opener on Saturday evening.
The game is highly anticipated by fans worldwide and is likely to be the final game goalkeeper Claudio Bravo will take part in wearing a Barça shirt. The shot-stopper is on the verge of joining English club Manchester City this summer and will probably sign a four-year contract next week. However, club technical secretary Robert Fernandez stated after the game against Sevilla that the Chilean will start tonight’s match.
Fresh off the Supercopa win, Barça will come into the game with full confidence despite missing some key players. Captain Andres Iniesta will be unavailable for the game after he picked up a knee injury in the Supercopa first leg tie against Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan and is likely to be replaced by Denis Suarez.
Joining Don Andres on the sideline will be defenders Jeremy Mathieu and Javier Mascherano and this means new signing Samuel Umtiti will definitely start alongside Gerard Pique in central defence for the game.
Also sidelined for the game is goalkeeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen and it means Jordi Masip will make the match squad behind Claudio Bravo. The other players unavailable for selection are Neymar and Rafinha who are both representing Brazil in the Men’s football category of the Rio 2016 Olympic games and they will take part in the final against Germany. The away side have no major injury concern.
Much debate will be left on who will start in both fullback roles for Barcelona for the game as the competitions for both spots have grown significantly. After the departure of Dani Alves to Juventus, Barça didn’t sign a right back to replace him as Luis Enrique trusts Aleix Vidal and Sergi Roberto for that position, he however looks to prefer the La Masia graduate over the former Sevilla man.
The left back role is more difficult to predict as new signing Lucas Digne has shown great class with qualities to displace Jordi Alba off the starting spot. It is left to Luis Enrique to decide.
FC BARCELONA VS REAL BETIS
Date: Saturday, August 20, 2016
Time: 6:15pm CET
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona
Referee: Undiano Mallenco
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
Real Betis 0-2 Barcelona
Barcelona 4-0 Real Betis
Barcelona 3-1 Real Betis
Real Betis 1-4 Barcelona
Barcelona 4-2 Real Betis
Possible Barcelona Lineup: Claudio Bravo; Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba; Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Denis Suarez; Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Arda Turan.
Possible Real Betis Lineup: Antonio Adan; Piccini, Mandi, Pezzella, Vargas; Petros, Gutierrez; Nahuel, Dani Ceballos, Charley Musonda; Ruben Castro
REAL BETIS: N/A
BarcaLens Prediction: The team is fresh and eager to get this result. The first game of the season is an important game, this one will be played at Camp Nou and one will need an unreal amount of bravery to say Barça won’t win this, an easy win – Barcelona 4-0 Real Betis.