We preview the La Liga clash between Real Betis and Barcelona, including our pre-match prediction for this huge top-flight clash on Wednesday night in Spain at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
The Quick Hits
- Barcelona expected to make it six wins in a row at the Estadio Benito Villamarin against Real Betis.
- Real Betis are looking to make it into the Champions League for the first times since 2005–06 season.
- Barcelona winning recent head-to-head with Real Betis by some margin.
Barcelona are back on top of LaLiga and with some breathing room too as they look to win their first league title since 2018-19. They sit five points clear of Real Madrid in second place, who drew 0-0 with Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night. Barcelona have a chance to put even more Spanish sunlight between themselves and their clásico rivals with a win over Betis on Wednesday night before Madrid play Valencia on Thursday.
Xavi will face Manuel Pellegrini for the fourth time as a manager having won two and lost one in the three previous encounters. The most recent game was in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final. It took extra-time and penalties to separate the teams after a 2-2 draw in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As the manager of Manchester City, Pellegrini faced Barcelona with Xavi twice and lost both of those games — once all the way back in 2012 and the other in 2018.
Real Betis have won just one of their last seven games against Barcelona, a 1-0 victory at the Camp Nou in December 2021. In fact, that was Xavi’s first loss as the manager of Barcelona having replaced Ronald Koeman in November of that year. They have won their last five away games against Real Betis in LaLiga and could become the first side to win six or more in a row away from home against the Andalusian team in the competition ever.
Barcelona have won each of their last three LaLiga games by a one goal margin – never before in the competition have they won four on the bounce by a single goal.
Real Betis are winless in their last three home games in LaLiga (D2 L1) after winning each of their previous six – they last failed to win four in a row at the Estadio Benito Villamarin in the competition in December 2017 (D2 L2). Barcelona have won eight and lost just once away from home this season.
Real Betis (2) 2-2 (4) Barcelona (penalties): 12 January 2023 (Spanish Super Cup)
If the last game between these two sides, which took place just a few weeks ago in Saudi Arabia as part of the Spanish Super Cup, is an indicator of what’s in store on Wednesday night then we are in for a treat.
Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring for Barcelona before Nabil Fekir equalised with a goal that took the game into extra-time. Ansu Fati again edged Barcelona in front but Loren Moron was on hand to prolong the game again. It went to penalties. Juanmi and William Carvalho missed penalties for Betis as Barcelona moved on to the Super Cup final where they beat Real Madrid 3-1.
Betis outshot Barcelona 15-12 and beat Xavi’s side with shots on targets too (7-6). Barcelona had the better chances and beat Betis on xG on the night. They also enjoyed 60.9% of the ball during the game.
Barcelona’s recent LaLiga form has been very good in terms of results. They earned a 1-0 victory over Girona at Estadi Municipal de Montilivi in their last league match to extend their unbeaten streak to nine (W8 D1 L0), leaving them five points ahead of Real Madrid through 18 matches.
They have kept 14 clean sheets so far this season with Marc Andre ter Stegen preventing 3.9 goals, which is the fourth highest figure in LaLiga. He has only conceded four goals, the best in Spain.
Barcelona boast a fine away record this season with eight wins and just one loss in league matches away from home. Barça will be out to extend a four-match away winning streak. The last time they failed to win away was October 2022 against Real Madrid.
Betis have lost just twice in their last seven LaLiga games, drawing two and winning three. They are currently sitting in sixth, three points outside the top four, but have a game in hand on Atlético Madrid, who occupy the last spot in the Champions League. Real Betis boss Manuel Pellegrini has lost 11 of his last 12 games against Barcelona in LaLiga (W1). In total, he has lost 15 of his 22 matches as a manager against the Blaugranas in the competition (W5 D2), more than against any other opponent.
Betis’ most convincing recent win came against Rayo Vallecano when they won 2-1 away from home, which they followed up with another win away from home against Getafe last weekend. They haven’t been convincing but too often have Betis played beautiful football without getting results. This season, they are keeping pace with the top four and have the talent in the squad to do so much more. It’s very good football with the results to match.
Players to Watch
Real Betis: Luiz Henrique
The Brazilian winger made little splash when he moved from Fluminense last summer for less than €10 million but he is starting to feel more comfortable and confident as part of Pellegrini’s starting XI. He can play on the left or right in an attacking three and has been used in both positions. This team was once fuelled by Nabil Fekir’s individual brilliance and Sergio Canales seemingly unending inventiveness but a new era has begun with Fekir ceding minutes to Rodri and Canales not shining as brightly as he once did (although he’s still pretty good).
Henrique’s 2.07 xG is second on the team in LaLiga. He leads the team in successful take-ons and take-ons in the opposition half.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave in the remotest region of Siberia, you’ve heard about Pedri by now. He is not an emerging talent anymore. He has arrived and is one of the best midfielders in the world. Xavi’s side is largely built around his capacity to create and control.
The 20-year-old’s role has changed in recent months though with Xavi urging the midfielder to get into the box more often. Struggling for a lack of goals from Raphinha and Dembele and with Robert Lewandowski suspended for the last few games, Pedri has shone.
He leads all Barcelona players in passes attempted, successful passes, passes in the opposition half and passes ending in the opposition’s final third. He has also scored five goals in LaLiga. Only Lewandowski has more (13). Through 18 games (15 starts) in LaLiga this season, he has already beaten his highest scoring league campaign (four, when he was with Las Palmas in the Segunda Division).
Real Betis vs Barcelona Prediction
Our supercomputer predicts a win for Barcelona at the Estadio Benito Villamarin making it a record six wins away from home in a row for the Catalans. Xavi’s side have been given a 47.6% chance of victory over Pellegrini’s men.
Betis have pretty consistently troubled Barcelona without always getting the desired result. Expect no different on Wednesday night.
Barcelona are favourites to win the league but a win on Wednesday could help Betis cement their status as top-four contenders. Manuel Pellegrini has altered his starting line-ups recently, resting Fekir for the more lively Rodri but Fekir is a big game player for Betis and loves playing against Barcelona. Xavi will welcome back Robert Lewandowski but Ousmane Dembele is out after suffering a hamstring injury against Girona.
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