Barça are looking to round off a wonderful 2015 with a win at home to Betis that would allow them to retain top spot in the league.
This Wednesday at 8.30pm CET at Camp Nou, Barça face their final game of a year in which they have claimed no less than five trophies: the league title, the Copa del Rey, the Champions League, the European Super Cup and most recently, the FIFA Club World Cup. The visitors looking to spoil the party are Andalusian side Betis, who themselves can boast an excellent away record in the league on their return to top flight football following promotion from the Second Division last season.
The FC Barcelona squad trained for the final time on Tuesday ahead of the clash with los verdiblancos. After just a few days respite over the Christmas holidays, the entire squad are back together following the arrival of Leo Messi on Monday. Coach Luis Enrique will be without the injured Rafinha and Douglas but should be able to call on the services of Sergio Busquets. The midfielder has trained normally over the last few days after returning from the successful trip to Japan with a slight thigh problem.
Betis coach Pepe Mel, in his second spell in charge at the club, named his squad on Tuesday for the trip to Camp Nou. Amro Tarek is the only absentee due to injury with other names such as striker Jorge Molina and former Barça player Xavi Torres all omitted from the list by coach Mel for Wednesday’s league clash.
Barça coach Luis Enrique appeared before the press at the Ciutat Esportiva on Tuesday before the visit of Betis and was clear in his view of his team’s last fixture of 2015. “The only important thing is to get three points and extend our lead at the top of the table,” said the Asturian. The former Barça player went on to highlight the visitors’ fine away form, Betis only having lost only twice on the road this season. “If their home form matched their results away, then they would be much higher up the table,” warned Luis Enrique.
Pepe Mel also faced the media on Tuesday and was honest but confident in his appraisal of his side’s task at Camp Nou. “We know that we are playing against the best team in the world. That is not subjective, the results bear it out. Facing that we go with the aim of measuring up to them and if we have the right intensity and attitude then we will be in with a chance in the game,” said the man who is a published novelist in his spare time.
Barça’s back to back victories over Guangzhou Evergrande and River Plate earned them their third FIFA World Club Cup in Japan recently. Of Barça’s six goals in the competition, five were scored by Luis Suárez,bringing his total for 2015 to an impressive 46 in a Barça shirt. Nevertheless, Luis Enrique’s team have not won in the league since the end of November when they defeated Real Sociedad 4-0 at Camp Nou. In their last La Liga fixture before Christmas they were held 2-2 by a feisty Deportivo La Coruña side at home.
Betis are in 11th place in the table on 20 points, 14 of which have been secured away from home. However, like their opponents, they are without a win in the league since a victory over Levante at the end of November. Their last game before the break saw them play out a goalless draw at home in the derby against Sevilla.
FC Barcelona have won six in a row at home against Betis in all competitions. scoring 22 goals in the process. The two teams last met at Camp Nou in April of 2014, Barça winning 3-1 thanks to a brace from Leo Messi and an own goal from Jordi Figueras, Rubén Castro found the net for the visitors.
Betis have only ever won on four occasions at Barça in the league, the last coming way back in 1998. The last time they took a point was in 2007, a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou during the title run in helping to derail the Catalans’ league campaign that season under coach Frank Rijkaard.
No matter where you are in the world we have you covered. Twitter users can follow @FCBarcelona for a live feed of all the action.