Preview: Betis v Barça

Pep Guardiola has named the 18 first team players at his disposal plus Marc Bartra for the trip to Seville where tomorrow night (kick off 10pm local time) we face Betis in the Copa del Rey quarter final second leg. Two players miss the game through injury: Dani Alves is out for ten days after coming off in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Malaga while Carles Puyol is also rested as he is nursing a sore knee, though on the positive side Leo Messi has got over a slight fever and is included in the squad.

Of course it should be a simple task to reach the semi-final as we took a commanding 5-0 lead from the first game at Camp Nou last Wednesday. For this reason we can expect to see a lot of changes for the game, Ibrahim Afellay should get his first start and it will be interesting to see where Guardiola decides to play him though my money says he’ll play on the left of attack. In defence we can also expect to see a start for Gabi Milito who has decided to stay at the club after all. It was widely reported that he had taken a decision to join Malaga in the hope that he would get more playing minutes and therefore help his chances of being chosen for Argentina who are hosting this summer’s Copa America. Milito’s decision to stay will be a serious boost for Guardiola as we are looking somewhat short of central defenders despite the crop of promising youngsters coming through. Milito may find he doesn’t get as many playing minutes now but he will now have the chance to play in some pretty massive matches in the next few months which is what a player of his calibre deserves. Who knows, he may be rewarded by a start in the Champions League final at Wembley on May 28.

Betis left a good impression after the first leg despite the heavy defeat, they came out to play football and it seems sure that coach Pepe Mel will send his team out to attack. While the comeback may seem practically impossible an early goal from Betis would certainly raise the temperature of the game. Strikers Jorge Molina and especially Ruben Castro gave our defence a few problems at Camp Nou and we can expect to see more of these two tomorrow. I have no doubt that we will be playing in the semi-finals, however, given the big lead from the first game and the fact we are sure to play a weaker line-up I won’t be at all surprised if we lose on the night and thus bring an end to our 28-match unbeaten run.

Barça’s 19-man squad: Valdés, Pinto, Adriano, Piqué, Bartra, Milito, Abidal, Maxwell, Mascherano, Busquets, Xavi, Keita, Iniesta, Afellay, Pedro, Messi, Bojan, Villa, Jeffren.

Possible starting XI: Pinto; Adriano, Bartra, Milito, Maxwell; Busquets, Mascherano, Keita; Jeffren, Bojan, Afellay.

My prediction Betis 2 Barça 1

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This entry was posted in Copa Del Rey, Gabi Milito, Ibrahim Afellay, Leo Messi, Match Previews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Preview: Betis v Barça

  1. bc9jaCulé says:

    I think the least we’ll get is a draw. For all I care, I just want Ibi to get a complete 90 mins tonight and any position Pep assigns him to play is of no consequence to me.

    All I long for is a complete dose of Ibi’s pills.

    My prediction:
    Betis 1 — 2 Barça

    Forca Barça!!!

  2. Fredegar says:

    A midfield of Busquets, Mascherano and Keita? Wow, that’s pretty strong, I can’t see a Premier League side who wouldn’t rejoice in such a line up, appart maybe from City. I would maybe put Thiago in place of Busquets to add a bit of creativity, but maybe it’s good to go with a very strong line to be sure to keep control of the game against a very offensive side which could take fire if events go their way…
    But I’m really not so sure Pep will go with only one first teamer in this game, I would like he does exactly that, but it’s not been in his habits, even in this game that backfired last year against Sevilla, I believe Pep had at least four or five first team players, no?

  3. FCB-Parbo says:

    I wanna see most of the reserves on the field. Ibi was not bad at all, so I hope he gets a start as a winger. I wanna see long-range shots from him or at least an assist for a goal. That would be very nice.

  4. barcacentralnic says:

    You never can tell with Guardiola and he may put out a stronger team than the one I predicted. On team selection I have to say I am disappointed Thiago hasn’t been included for the trip, and why not more of the youngsters. Thiago’s younger brother Rafa (who is now being called “Rafinha”) has performed well having stepped up to the b team recently, and this could have been an ideal opportunity to give the 17-year-old a first team debut, and it would have done no harm to give a few minutes to Oriol Romeu to show him he hasn’t been forgotten since Mascherano’s arrival. I recognise that youngsters need to be brought in gradually but there is unlikely to be a better opportunity it what remains of the season to give a first team opportunity to a youngster. We simply can’t afford to take any risks in the Liga or Champions League so today’s match seems to be an occasion that Pep has missed.

  5. barcacentralnic says:

    Oops, forgot Oriol Romeu is out for most of the season with a knee injury

  6. Caleb says:

    No Thiago? That’s disappointing… I too would have liked to see some more youngsters at least on the bench. Oh well, Pep’s the boss.

  7. bc9jaCulé says:

    I guess Thiago’s ‘xclusion from the squad is quite justified as it’s hinged upon the fact that some major midfielders in the Barça-B team are injured so his presence will be much needed. In fact, it’s an unavoidable necessity to the B team.

    Plus, since it has been confirmed that he’ll be promoted to the senior team next summer, he really needs to develop more by playing more regularly with the B team in competitive matches.

    Fret not culés, I’m sure we’ll get to see more of him next season!

  8. barcacentralnic says:

    Well it’s a stronger team than I expected but I really can’t understand why Messi, Piqué and Xavi are starting this game. Team is as follows: Pinto; Adriano, Piqué, Milito, Maxwell; Xavi, Mascherano, Keita; Messi, Bojan, Afellay.

  9. Lon-A-Barca says:

    Hopefully Afellay gets a start. He made some nice passes in the 10 minutes he played at the weekend even though he looked like he did’nt really know what he was suppose to be doing which is understandable. Another few games and I’m sure he will gel into the squad nicely.

  10. Lon-A-Barca says:

    Oh I just noticed that Afellay is getting a start. That is a strong looking tea, even with 8 non regulars starting.

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