Barcelona will be looking to strengthen their grip on second spot in the La Liga table when they make the trip to Seville on Saturday evening to take on fifth-placed Real Betis.
The Catalan giants are currently two points clear of third-placed Sevilla, while Real Betis are three points behind fourth-placed Atletico Madrid in the race for a top-four finish.
Real Betis lifted the Copa del Rey for just the third time in their history last month by beating Valencia in the final, while they are also very much in the argument for a top-four spot heading into the final straight.
Indeed, a total of 58 points from 34 matches has left them in fifth spot in the table, just three points behind fourth-placed Atletico on the same number of games, and a victory in this match would leave them in a confident mood ahead of their final three fixtures against Valencia, Granada and Real Madrid.
The Green and Whites, who have not claimed a top-four spot in La Liga since 2005, were held to a goalless draw by Getafe in their last match on May 2, and they have only actually picked up just two points from their last three league fixtures, last winning away to Cadiz on April 9.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have won nine, drawn two and lost six of their 17 home league games this season to collect 29 points, and they will be welcoming a Barcelona side with the second-best away record in Spain’s top flight this term, having picked up 31 points from their 17 matches.
Real Betis recorded a 1-0 victory at Camp Nou in the reverse game earlier this season, but they suffered a 3-2 defeat when the pair locked horns in Seville last term.
Over the last week, Barcelona have had to watch Real Madrid win the La Liga title and then book their spot in the Champions League final, which would certainly have been difficult for the Catalan outfit.
Xavi’s side will finish the season trophyless but will be determined to secure the runners-up spot in La Liga, and they are in pole position to finish immediately behind Real Madrid, currently sitting two points clear of third-placed Sevilla and five ahead of fourth-placed Atletico.
Real Betis would move to within five points of Barcelona if they triumphed on Saturday, though, and the Catalan giants are not yet sure of a top-four finish despite sitting eight clear of fifth spot ahead of the next set of fixtures.
Xavi’s team have actually lost three of their last five matches in all competitions, including two of their last four in the league against Cadiz and Rayo Vallecano, but they will enter this match off the back of a 2-1 win over Mallorca last weekend, where Memphis Depay and Sergio Busquets were both on the scoresheet.
Barcelona will face Celta Vigo, Getafe and Villarreal in their final three league games of the campaign, and they will fancy their chances of claiming all three points on Saturday evening, having been victorious in five of their last six league matches with Real Betis.
Real Betis La Liga form:
Real Betis form (all competitions):
Barcelona La Liga form:
Barcelona form (all competitions):
We say: Real Betis 1-1 Barcelona
Real Betis are a team to be taken extremely seriously at this level of football, and they have plenty to play for in the closing stages of the season, so Barcelona will be in for a tough examination on Saturday night. The Catalan outfit have only lost twice in the road in La Liga this term, though, and we believe that the two teams will share the points in Seville.