Preview: Barça v Betis

With the Ballon d’Or fiesta over we are back to some proper action with the visit of Real Betis to Camp Nou for the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter final. With a possible semi-final against Almeria or Deportivo this seems like a good year to have a crack at winning the Spanish Cup again. Pep Guardiola rested Alves, Xavi and Busquets for the 0-4 victory in La Coruña on Saturday so we can at least expect to see these three players in the starting XI. It is very difficult to predict team selection though I don’t believe the Fifa gala should affect any of the players involved as there is no time difference with Zurich and the flight is a short one, however, there will no doubt be some rotations.

Luis Enrique in action during the 3-2 win over Betis in the 1997 final

Barça last met Betis in the cup in 1997, when with Bobby Robson as coach we won a thrilling final 3-2 after extra time. Previously to that we met in the quarter final stage in the 1993/94 season when Betis pulled off a shock 0-1 victory against Johan Cruyff’s dream team. In the league, however, we have played Betis plenty of times recently as they were only relegated to the Segunda Division at the end of the 2008/09 season. Despite getting relegated that season and despite it being Pep Guardiola’s first record breaking triple season, the games between the teams were close affairs. A late Eidur Gudjohnsen goal gave us a 3-2 win at Camp Nou while we could only manage a 2-2 at the Benito Villamarin stadium thanks to a brace from Samuel Eto’o.

Betis are looking a good bet to return to the top flight next season as they currently sit top of the second division with 43 points from 19 games. The Barça B team managed a 2-2 at Betis at the start of December thanks to late goals from Nolito and Oriol Romeu, but of course this is no guarantee that it will be easier for the first team. Betis will be no pushover having reached the last eight by beating two other Primera Division teams, Zaragoza and Getafe. Coach Pepe Mel will be without the Cameroonian midfield star Achille Emana, as well as Dorado, Miguel Lopes and Momo and so he has named all 21 available players for the trip.

In recent cup clashes (Athletic this season and Sevilla last season) Pep Guardiola has been forced to play a stronger team for the second leg after a “weaker” team failed to finish things off in the first leg. Perhaps it would be better to play a stronger team from the beginning with an eye on resting players in the return game. Then again, who am I to tell Pep Guardiola what to do? I just hope that we get a comfortable win and that we get another chance to see a bit more of Afellay.

Possible starting XIs:

Barça: Pinto; Alves, Puyol, Milito, Maxwell; Xavi, Busquets, Thiago; Pedro, Bojan, Afellay.

Betis: Goitia; Isidoro, Miki Roqué, Belenguer, Nacho; Beñat, Iriney, Juande, Israel; Jorge Molina, Rubén Castro.

My prediction: Barça 2 Betis 0

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6 Responses to Preview: Barça v Betis

  1. bc9jaCulé says:

    @ bcNIC

    Here’s me doffin’ my hat for you — for your relentless efforts and everythin’.

    I noticed u didn’t include the date and time (in GMT please) in your preview. I’ll check back later for that.
    Again, like u always did @ FCBnews, why don’t u append a column where we can be kept apprised of @ least the next three Barça fixtures (date and GMT time inclusive) and our ranking details in La Liga. Thanks a million!

  2. barcacentralnic says:

    Apologies, the game is tomorrow (Wednesday) and the kick off time is 22.00 local time which I believe is 21.00 GMT

  3. Noureddine says:

    Thanks Mr Nic for the endless effort you put in these posts, I’m a huge fan by the way since the FCB news days.
    As for Betis game I believe it gonna be nothing but a training session for the B team and the new comer Ibi. I’m predecting an easy win for the boys as they became more effective front of the goal without the Godfather Xavi, as we all saw vs Depor we scored on our 1st clear chance on goal which’s unheard of without Xavi in the line up, and we bagged four easy goals against a very solid team thanks to the philosophy wear them down then tear them down.

  4. bc9jaCulé says:

    Gracies bcNic.

    As per the game tonight, our coach has to be very cautious & strategic with his line-up. I still remember the two legs we played with them in the 2008/09 season as rightly emphasized in the beautiful preview above. We had to slug it out with them before narrowly bestin’ them in the 1st leg & we had to beg for a draw in the 2nd (thanks to the aggresiveness & that perfect finishin’ from Eto’o).

    We should take the game really serious as though it were a league game. The players we field doesn’t really matter, constancy of focus is what does.

    Remember, they currently top the Segunda with 43 pts out of a possible 57 (that’s a magnificent progression to me) and they’ve knocked out 2 first division teams already.
    What I’m sayin’ is; they are in scintillatin’ form, thus, can’t be taken for granted.

    Just a note of caution!

    Barça 3 — 1 Betis.

    Forca Barça!!!

  5. FCB-Parbo says:

    Looking forward to the match. I hope that Pep starts with his strong eleven. They should seal the game in the 1st half and then do some early subs. That will be good for the rotation. Barca-Barca-Barca, always Barca!!

  6. barcacentralnic says:

    Wow, the team’s been announced and it looks clear that Guardiola wants to get a good start to the tie. Apart from Pinto for Valdes, and Maxwell in for Abidal it looks like our best eleven.

    On the bench we have: Valdés, Abidal, Milito, Mascherano, Keita, Afellay and Jeffren.

    Left out completely are Thiago, Adriano and Bojan. The decision to leave Bojan right out is perhaps the most surprising decision.

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