• Barcelona will be looking to recover from Supercopa defeat to rivals Real Madrid against Real Betis on Sunday evening.

    Valverde’s men will be starting their title bid without star man Neymar of course, and they still haven’t sourced a replacement heading into the opening weekend.

    The Catalans begin a new era under Ernesto Valverde and they will be looking for a fresh start following two disappointing displays against Real Madrid.

    The ambitious Real Betis begin this season with a new manager in former La Palmas boss Quique Setien, and they have also finally completed the new stand, giving them a terrific new-look stadium for this campaign.

    Image Credits: Twitter

    Pre-season Preparation

    Barcelona

    Valverde’s men head into this one on the back of a 5-1 aggregate defeat to El Classico rivals Real Madrid in the Supercopa.

    However, they did manage a win over Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup pre-season competition.

    Barca also managed to beat Chapecoense – victims of that horror plane crash last year – and also drew against Gimnastic.

    Neymar’s departure rocked the Catalans over the summer and his exit to PSG means Barcelona start the season with the search for a replacement still ongoing.

    Real Betis

    The appointment of former Las Palmas boss Quique Setien has been well-received in Betis and there’s a real optimism around the club ahead of this season.

    Betis suffered three defeats in their last five in pre-season, losing to Inter Milan, Cordoba and Eintracht.

    But they did manage wins over AC Milan and Stuttgart to give them confidence coming into the new campaign.

    Predicted Teams

    Barcelona Lineup

    The worst news for Barcelona is that Luis Suarez is now out for up to five weeks with a knee injury sustained in the Super Cup loss to Real Madrid.

    Image Credits: Getty Images

    Injuries elsewhere include Adrian Ortola and Rafinha, while Pique, Iniesta, and Vermaelen all have knocks.

    Gerard Deulofeu is set to be a temporary replacement for Neymar until a big-money signing is completed.

    Real Betis Lineup

    Real Betis will be missing Ryad Boudebouz, while Cristian Tello, Francis Guerrero and Junior Firpo are hoping to return.

    Betis are expected to take on Barcelona with the same 4-5-1 varied formation, and wingers Joaquin and Nahuel may be the key.

    Betis will need an outlet and they will need to stretch Barcelona on the break if they want to have a chance this weekend.

    Key Battle

    Messi vs. Sergio Leon

    No introduction needed for Lionel Messi and his undoubted talent – Real Betis will know they will only be the latest team to try and stop him this weekend.

    Messi almost needs to provide double with the departure of Neymar and Barcelona will need the rest of their stars to pull together amid the Brazilians exit.

    Real Betis’ main man is striker Sergio Leon and his 10 goals last season helped the club steer away from any threat of relegation.

    Leon isn’t too likely to see a lot of the ball on Sunday evening, but if he does then Betis can put their trust in him to make the most of his chances.

    Talking Points

    Can Barcelona cope without Neymar?

    Image Credits: Twitter

    The departure of Neymar has dominated football news this summer, and Barcelona now have the task of moving on, and quickly.

    The Brazilian’s exit won’t stop them from winning games, they still have a fantastic team, but given that they failed to keep up with Real Madrid last season, can they really do that without one of their stars?

    Valverde is expected to replace Neymar in the next couple of weeks with Coutinho and Dembele the main targets.

    Barcelona fans will be desperately hoping that a deal is done sooner rather than later.

     

     

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