This is it. The closure of an amazing four seasons in the history of FC Barcelona is here. Both Real Betis and FC Barcelona will play to honour their crest and professionalism, but not much will change in the table. As things stand, Barcelona will finish in 2nd with Betis in 12th. Things are close in the middle of the table but the difference in prize money in finishing midtable is not very substantial.
FC Barcelona has broken records here and there, especially with how things were going in the beginning of the season. But our rivals from Madrid got the better of us in the league this season. Real Madrid have been blowing teams away, which is the main difference between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid this time around. But things are not in decline for FC Barcelona as there are positive notes to take from this season.
First of all, there’s the immense contribution of the midfield in scoring goals in the absence of our strikers. Fabregas, albeit in the first half of the season, and Xavi have contributed in scoring goals and that might be a sign of things to come for FC Barcelona. More late-runs and exploiting the huge space left by the opposition defenders usually marking Messi will be more pronounced next season.
The next positive is of course the development of FC Barcelona’s young proteges. Cuenca, Tello, Thiago, and Montoya have shown what they are capable of. Great maturity, willingness to learn, and understanding of FC Barcelona’s way of playing are their biggest assets. Playing for FC Barcelona requires a different kind of skill set than playing in any other club, as there is less time to think as usually the opposition will always play deep and the only way to unlock it is by quick passes and movement. In this respect, even Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez still have a way to go.
The third positive note is the bravery from Pep and the team to turn the game on its head and try a lot of unconventional approaches. Formations such as 3-3-4 and employing CDMs at centre-back all has its ups and downs, but really with 90 points in the league and the team making it as far as the semi-finals in the Champions league and the final of the Copa del Rey with all the niggling injuries is a testament to how well the team has been playing but for a few tiny details. If anything, not winning any major trophy this second part of the season will be good as it’s a part of the development cycle that all teams must go through.
Tonight’s game will be good conditioning for Pique to get back and feature as Mascherano’s partner in the center of defense. Mascherano’s most glaring shortcoming as a defender is his tendency to mark players and leave the defensive line, which was exploited against Milan and Chelsea. Pique needs to communicate and this match will be preparation for the final of the Copa del Rey. Alves will be back playing, meanwhile Adriano will get the nod to play as the left fullback. Valdes is also expected to play as Pinto is not available for this match with a sprained ankle.
If we think of next season, it will be good to try and field Busquets, Iniesta, and Fabregas from the start. The main reason behind the drop in Fabregas’ form is his confidence, which stems from a lot of misses in the second half of the season. This could be attributed to his vision lagging behind, somtimes just split seconds from his team-mates. It is something that only time can improve as the chemistry grows between them.
At front, I’d have liked to see Messi, Alexis, and Pedro as they are the best three that we have currently. But it might be possible that Pep will field Iniesta at the front and Thiago in the middle. We’ll see what the game will bring.
Looking to close the La Liga season on a high note, Barcelona is hoping for another away win in Seville to make it their fourth win in a row.
|FC Barcelona||1 – 2||Real Madrid|
|FC Barcelona||2 – 2||Chelsea FC|
|Rayo Vall.||0 – 7||FC Barcelona|
|FC Barcelona||4 – 1||Malaga|
|FC Barcelona||4 – 0||Espanyol|
Villa, Fontas, and Abidal continue to be on the long-term absentee list with Puyol joining them, away for 6 weeks after his surgery, meanwhile Pinto is out for this game.
Predicted Starting XI: Valdes – Pique – Mascherano – Adriano – Dani Alves – Busquets – Iniesta – Fabregas – Messi – Alexis – Pedro
Iriney’s absence will not be a huge problem for Betis, as the Andalusian side looks to bounce back from last week’s loss.
|Real Betis||1 – 0||Osasuna|
|Valencia||4 – 0||Real Betis|
|Real Betis||2 – 2||Atl. Madrid|
|Sevilla||1 – 2||Real Betis|
|Sp. Gijon||2 – 1||Real Betis|
Predicted Starting XI: Fabricio – Nacho – Paulao – Dorado – Chica – Pereira – Benat – Canas – Montero – S. Cruz – Castro
Nelson, Mario, Ustaritz, and Juanma are out, meanwhile Iriney is in doubt. Benat needs to be watched closely as his freekicks have won them recent games.
Real Betis will let their grass grow high, but lately it has been less of a problem for Barcelona. They will look to exaggerate contact in freekick territory so Barcelona needs to be wary, especially for Busquets, Alves, and Mascherano. FC Barcelona will prove to be too much to handle for Real Betis.
Real Betis 0 – 3 FC Barcelona
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