After embarrassment in the Supercopa de Espana, Ernesto Valverde will hope to ease the tension around Camp Nou by opening the league season with a win
Barcelona will hope to improve the mood around Camp Nou by getting off to a winning start in La Liga on Sunday against Real Betis.
It has been a difficult first summer in charge for Ernesto Valverde, with the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain followed by a humbling in the Supercopa de Espana at the hands of Real Madrid.
Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu is coming under increasing pressure and if the Blaugrana make a bad start in the league, Valverde could find himself firefighting just weeks into his tenure.
|Game||Barcelona vs Real Betis|
|Date||Sunday, August 20|
|Time||19:15 BST / 14:15 ET|
TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
In the UK, the match will be available to watch live on television on Sky Sports Football and by stream via Sky Go.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Sky Sports Football||Sky Go|
In the US, the match will be available to watch live on television on beIN Sports USA and by stream via beIN Sports Connect USA.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|beIN Sports USA||beIN Sports Connect USA|
SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
|Goalkeepers||Ter Stegen, Cillessen|
|Defenders||Semedo, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Digne, Vidal, Umtiti, Marlon, Douglas, Vermaelen|
|Midfielders||Rakitic, Busquets, D. Suarez, Arda, Iniesta, Rafinha, Paulinho, Roberto, Gomes, Samper|
|Forwards||Messi, Deulofeu, Alcacer, Munir|
Barcelona will be without Luis Suarez, who is facing a month on the sidelines after injuring his knee in the second leg of the Supercopa. Paco Alcacer is likely to start up front as a result.
Gerard Pique is also a doubt with a strained muscle and Andres Iniesta is unlikely to start having sat out Wednesday’s match due to a thigh problem.
Potential starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Mascherano, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Gomes; Messi, Alcacer, Deulofeu.
|Defenders||Navarro, Fedal, Amat, Durmisi, Barragan, Tosca, Mandi, Firpo|
|Midfielders||Garcia, Ruiz, Camarasa, Guardado, Nahuel, Digard, Joaquin, Brasanac, Boudebouz|
|Forwards||Leon, Sanabria, Tello, Zozulya|
Junior Firpo and Ryad Boudebouz are unlikely to be involved for Betis as they build up their fitness, with only the latter progressing to individual exercises on the training pitch.
Potential starting XI: Adan; Barragan, Mandi, Feddal, Durmisi; Garcia, Guardado; Joaquin, Camarasa, Tello; Leon.
BETTING & MATCH ODDS
Barcelona are 2/11 favourites to win, according to dabblebet, with Betis priced at 14/1 and the draw available at 13/2.
Lionel Messi is the 21/10 favourite to score first, with Paco Alcacer rated at 7/2. Click here to view dabblebet’s full selection of match markets.
The problems keep piling up for Barcelona.
To compound the sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, there was the 5-1 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana.
The signing of Paulinho from the Chinese Super League was widely ridiculed by Blaugrana fans amid social-media protests against the presidency of Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Now they will be without Luis Suarez for a month and veterans Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta are already struggling with fitness problems that are likely to rule them out of the opener in La Liga.
There does not seem to be much movement when it comes to Ousmane Dembele or Philippe Coutinho, either, despite one skipping training in a bid to force a move and the other handing in a formal transfer request.
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Ernesto Valverde, then, has plenty of work to do. Getting off to a winning start at Camp Nou would, at least, be a step in the right direction, even if there is an increasing feeling that the problems at the club run deeper.