A place in the 2022 Supercopa de Espana will be on the line when Real Betis and Barcelona meet at the King Fahd International Stadium.
The four-team Supercopa de Espana began on Wednesday with the game between Real Madrid and Valencia. And on Thursday evening, Real Betis and Barcelona will lock horns in the second semi-final at the King Fahd International Stadium, with the second spot in Sunday’s final up for grabs.
Manuel Pellegrini continues to oversee consistent performances from Real Betis. The Andalusian giants currently sit in the top four in La Liga after losing only four of their 16 games thus far. And the Verdiblancos are unbeaten since the resumption of the 2022/23 season.
On the other hand, Barcelona might be the favourite to win the 2022/23 La Liga title after being top-class thus far. The Catalan giants have dropped points in only three of their 16 league games thus far. The Blaugrana also overcame a tricky test against CF Intercity in the Copa del Rey this month. But their campaign in the UEFA Champions League left a blot on an otherwise promising season thus far.
Barcelona eked out a narrow 2-1 win over Real Betis the last time these teams locked horns. And The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Supercopa de Espana encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.
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— Real Betis Balompié (@RealBetis_en) January 10, 2023
Manuel Pellegrini has a few injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the Supercopa de Espana clash. Against Barcelona on Thursday, the Real Betis manager will be bereft of the services of two first-team players.
Youssouf Sabaly is out for the foreseeable future due to an ankle complaint. In addition, Paul Akouokou will not feature for Real Betis against Barcelona due to a muscle injury. Meanwhile, Alex Moreno has played his final game for the Verdiblancos, with Aston Villa set to sign him.
So former Barcelona defender Juan Miranda will likely start as the left-back for Real Betis on Thursday. Aitor Ruibal should deputise for Sabaly on the right flank. And Edgar Gonzalez and Victor Ruiz should form the central defensive pairing. The back four will protect Rui Silva between the sticks.
As for the midfield unit, Guido Rodriguez and William Carvalho will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park. The duo will be defensive-minded in their approach, looking to keep Frenkie de Jong and Pedri quiet.
Nabil Fekir will be the most advanced midfielder for Real Betis, looking to pull the strings from a free role. Luiz Henrique and Rodri Sanchez should be the two wide men for the Verdiblancos, with Borja Iglesias spearheading the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Silva; Ruibal, Ruiz, Gonzalez, Miranda; Rodriguez, Carvalho; Henrique, Fekir, Rodri; Iglesias
Unlike his counterpart in the Real Betis dugout, Xavi Hernandez does not have any issues to deal with heading to Riyadh. The Barcelona manager has a full-strength squad at his disposal ahead of the game against Real Betis on Thursday.
Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres will be unavailable for the next two La Liga games. But the suspensions have no effect on Supercopa de Espana. And the former should return to the starting eleven in a strong Barcelona team.
🏆 Barça's squad for the Spanish Super Cup! pic.twitter.com/WxnOjjU4a2
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 10, 2023
The Polish international will lead the line for the Blaugrana, with Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha supporting him from the flanks. Torres, Memphis Depay, and Ansu Fati will be the backup offensive options for Xavi.
As for the midfield unit, Pedri will likely reprise the no. 8 role after featuring in a more advanced role in the 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid. With Pedri starting in the middle of the park, Gavi should drop to the bench. So Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets will join the young midfielder.
Jordi Alba will likely return after missing the last game due to suspension. Jules Kounde should feature as the right-back amid Hector Bellerin’s inconsistent performances. So Andreas Christensen will likely get the chance to make his mark at the heart of the defence. Ronald Araujo will be his partner, while Marc-Andre ter Stegen picks himself in the goal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Alba; de Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Dembele
- The last seven meetings have seen Barcelona win six games, with Real Betis clinching a victory in the remaining fixture.
- The last eight clashes between Real Betis and Barcelona have seen only the former succeed in keeping a clean sheet in a game (once).
- Barcelona have played in the Supercopa de Espana final (24) more often than any other club while also winning it more than any other team (13).
- Real Betis’s last seven matches against La Liga opposition have yielded just two victories
- Barcelona are on a run of seven wins from ten outings across all competitions.
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Barcelona’s struggles have been obvious for everyone to see whenever Robert Lewandowski is unavailable. So Xavi Hernandez will heave a huge sigh of relief to have the Polish international at his disposal this week.
The veteran striker will be itching to return to action in Supercopa de Espana. And Lewandowski is invariably Barcelona’s ace of spades to go all the way in Saudi Arabia. Expect the 34-year-old to rise to the occasion and deliver the win for Barcelona.
Real Betis 1-2 Barcelona
Real Betis will unlikely make things straightforward for Barcelona. With Manuel Pellegrini showing what his team can do last season, the Blaugrana cannot take the Verdiblancos lightly. The Andalusian giants have once again staked a claim for a top-four finish, signalling how strong they are this term.
But Robert Lewandowski’s return tips the scales in Barcelona’s favour this week. The 34-year-old has been top-class this season and will make the difference on Thursday. But Real Betis will not go down without a fight. The Hard Tackle predicts a hard-fought 2-1 win for Xavi Hernandez’s men.
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