By 90Min
August 19, 2017

Barcelona will be looking for a strong start to the new season when they welcome Real Betis to the Nou Camp on Sunday, as they attempt to bounce back from twin defeats in the Spanish Super Cup. 

If taking a hit to their attacking firepower after Neymar moved to Paris Saint-Germain wasn't enough, losing 3-1 at home and then 2-0 in the return fixture against rivals Real Madrid during the Super Cup has definitely put them on the back foot.

With Real Betis being one of the weaker sides in La Liga, it will be a good opportunity for an early three points but they could take advantage of a shaken Barcelona after their new boss Quique Setién made a host of new signings. 

Here's everything you need to know ahead of the weekends action.


Classic Encounter

CRISTINA QUICLER/GettyImages

The sides last met in January where Luis Suarez's 90th minute equaliser snatched a draw for Barca after Alex Alegria put Betis 1-0 up late into the second half - Luis Enrique's side losing vital ground in the title race. 

Catalan giants' biggest win in this fixture in recent years came last August when they thrashed Betis 6-2 and, while Ruben Castro's early equaliser cancelled out Arda Turan's early goal, two from Lionel Messi and a Suarez hat-trick completed the demolition job. 

The last time Betis won against Barca was during the 2011 Copa del Rey where Jorge Molina came flying out the blocks, scoring two goals within seven minutes of the game kicking off. Lionel Messi blasted a penalty over the bar at 2-1, and Betis were able to see out the win when Arturo Garcia restored their two-goal cushion. 


The result however didn't knock Barcelona out, as they had won the previous leg 5-0, but it was a stellar performance nonetheless.


Key Battle

Lionel Messi vs Riza Durmisi and Zouhair Feddal

Aitor Alcalde/GettyImages

With Neymar gone and Suarez out after suffering a knee injury during the Super Cup final, Barcelona's devastating attacking trio has once again been reduced to just Messi. 

While the Argentine still has the capability to run riot during this match and single handedly earn them the win, Barca could still face a hard opener if Riza Durmisi and Zouhair Feddal manage to contain Messi down the right hand side, starving him and Paco Alcácer of any chances on goal. 


With both sides having a change in management there will be plenty of kinks to work out and while Real Betis are coming off back-to-back losses to Inter and AC Milan, Barcelona will be lacking confidence after that heavy loss to Real Madrid. 


Real Betis have the potential to win this match and frustrate Barca in the process especially if they manage to score an early goal but the defence will have a tough job to complete if they want to keep Messi at bay.


Team News

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Aside from the much covered permanent absence of Neymar from the starting line up, new Barca boss Ernesto Valverde will now have contend - at least for the first three opening matches of the new season - with the absence of prolific striker Suarez. 


The club recently acquired the services of Tottenham flop Paulinho, but it is unlikely that he will get his first start this weekend. While Barcelona continue the search for Neymar's replacement, with Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho being the favourite to fill the void, Gerard Deulofeu will have to be the temporary solution. 


Real Betis' new boss Quique Setien will also be feeling the effects of missing talent after their rising star midfielder Dani Ceballos was sold to Real Madrid for £16m, but he had full bolstered the side after bringing in 15 new players including Christian Tello from Barcelona and Algerian midfielder Ryad Boudebouz.


Potential Barcelona Starting Lineup: Ter Stegen, Vidal, Mascherano, Umtiti, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Gomes, Messi, Deulofeu, Alcácer.


Potential Real Betis Starting Lineup: Adán, Barragán,Mandi, Feddal, Durmisi, Camarasa, Javi Garcia, Guardado, Joaquín, León, Ruiz


Prediction

Alex Caparros/GettyImages

With Barcelona winning five out of the last six clashes between the two - the other being a draw - and having defeated Real Betis the last six times they have met at the Nou Camp its hard to see past a home win despite Barca's shaky start to the season. 


Both teams have had plenty of changes to deal with so the match will be a cagey affair, but if Betis can get an early lead they have the potential to see it out for a strong victory. However, a 2-0 win to the home side is far more likely with Messi once again carrying Barcelona through. 


Prediction: Barcelona 2-0 Real Betis


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