The return of diminutive midfielder, Lionel Messi to the Barcelona set up has sparked some elements of self-belief amongst the players as the team face Real Betis at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Barcelona began their title defence in the worst way possible, as they lost 1-0 to Athletic Club last week Friday. After a dogged performance, the Blaugrana conceded an 89th-minute winner, as an Aritz Aduriz stunner sent them back to Catalonia pointless.
Real Betis also opened their campaign with a late defeat, with Real Valladolid securing a 2-1 win last Sunday. Oscar Plano’s 89th-minute strike condemned Betis to defeat and they will look to recover at the home of the reigning champions.
However, they face a Barcelona side who have Lionel Messi back in the ranks after the Argentine missed the start of the season with a calf injury.
But while Messi’s return is hugely positive for Barca, Ernesto Valverde still has other injury concerns. Luis Suarez is out with a calf injury he picked up in the season opener, Ousmane Dembele is sidelined for five weeks with a hamstring injury and Neto is out with a hand injury.
Real Betis travel to Catalonia with one key absentee, with new signing Borja Iglesias missing out with a sprained ankle. Betis are also without goalkeeper Joel Robles, who is serving a one-match suspension after being sent off eight minutes into their league opener last week.
Head To Head
Barcelona and Real Betis have met 46 times, with the Blaugrana winning over half of the meetings – with 28 wins to their name. Meanwhile, the Verdiblancos have managed just nine wins, as they hope to make it double digits at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
Possible Line Ups
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alba, Pique, Umtiti, Semedo; Busquets, De Jong, Rakitic; Griezmann, Messi, Rafinha
Real Betis: Martin; Alfonso, Mandi, Bartra, Emerson; Carvalho, Garcia; Tello, Fekir, Joaquin; Moron
Barca’s performance last week gives little confidence going into Sunday, but the return of Messi will certainly be a crucial factor. Barcelona should return to winning ways and secure a much needed three points, as they continue their defence of the coveted La Liga crown.