Barcelona: FC Barcelona face a must-win game when they host Betis at the Camp Nou in the Spanish Primera Liga Sunday.
Barcelona`s 1-1 draw away to neighbours, Espanyol, last Sunday saw them slip to five points behind league leaders Real Madrid in the race for the title, and with Madrid playing in Mallorca, Barca could find themselves eight points behind their rivals by the time they kick off.
The sides will play each other twice in the coming 11 days as they meet in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey. However, Barca cannot afford to allow that to distract them from three vital points, Xinhua reported
Coach Pep Guardiola has an injury crisis to deal with following the injuries suffered by defender Andreu Fontas and winger, Pedro Rodriguez in their Cup win away to Osasuna Thursday.
Fontas will be out for the season after damaging his knee ligament, while Pedro has a muscle strain that will sideline him for 10 days.
Ibrahima Affelay (knee), David Villa (broken leg) and Seydou Keita, who is away playing in the African Nations Cup, all of which serves to limit Guardiola`s options for the game.
Nevertheless, the fact that key players such as Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Dani Alves were all rested in midweek implies they will all start Sunday and players from the Barcelona B team will provide cover on the substitutes` bench.
Betis go into the game after a run of three straight wins from their last three matches. The side coached by Pepe Mel has had a strange campaign on their return to top flight, kicking off the season with four wins, before taking just one point from their nine matches prior to their current good form.
First Published: Saturday, January 14, 2012, 22:24