Barcelona’s comeback against Granada in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals wasn’t the only exciting finish in the round. Unlike the Blaugrana, Real Betis were on the other side of a comeback. The potential 84th minute winner from Juanmi was wasted when Raúl García equalized in stoppage time. The Andalusian side eventually fell on penalty kicks, and Manuel Pellegrini will need to make sure his team have short memories as they welcome Barça to the Estadio Benito Villamarín.
The last two matches between the two have resulted in three red cards and 12 total goals. Last February it took a winner from Clement Lenglet, just prior to his marching orders. The match-up earlier this season was a seven-goal extravaganza led by Lionel Messi’s brace in the 5-2 win. Pedri scored his first Barcelona goal, but the victory was stained by Ansu Fati’s injury, that continues to keep him out.
Due to a date with Sevilla in the Copa del Rey semi-finals, Ronald Koeman will certainly look to rotate his squad. Ronald Araújo is expected to get a rest, and Riqui Puig could find himself back in the starting line-up to give Pedri a seat. Antoine Griezmann is the real question – is Koeman willing to rest the Frenchman when he’s in such fine form? Seven goals and six assists in his last nine matches may be too much to chance him falling out of form.
Sergiño Dest has just come back from injury, but now that Sergi Roberto is out again, the American should be back in the starting line-up. The other real question will be how far Koeman reaches down his bench to rotate. Alongside Puig, Miralem Pjanic may get the start and since he didn’t go out on loan, Matheus Fernandes could even make an appearance as a second half substitute.
On the other side, the Verdiblancos are full of familiar faces. While Marc Bartra is out through injury, Barcelona could see any of Cristian Tello, Martin Montoya, Juan Miranda, and less likely Claudio Bravo in net. Of the bunch only Miranda is still a Barcelona player, and he has established himself as the regular starting left-back after an injury to Alex Moreno, who has recently started to reclaim his spot. Emerson, who will likely never play at the Camp Nou but is technically on loan, will likely start at right-back over Montoya.
Nabil Fekir has four assists but has been quiet in front of goal. Sergio Canales, meanwhile, has been Betis’ most influential player with seven goals and four assists. A consistent goal-scoring threat up top has been an issue for Pellegrini’s side all year and it’s a toss-up between Borja Igelsias and Loren Morón as to who will start. Don’t forgot about the immortal Joaquín, who you’d expect continues to hold his grudge against Ronald Koeman from their days at Valencia.
Barcelona (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Alba, Lenglet, Mingueza, Dest; Pjanic, de Jong, Puig; Trincão, Messi, Dembélé
Granada (4-2-3-1): Robles; Miranda, Ruiz, Mandi, Emerson; Canales, Carvalho; Tello, Fekir, Ruibal; Morón
Dan Hilton is an American journalist, broadcaster, and current Editor-in-Chief of BarcaBlog. Extensive work as a play-by-play broadcaster, producer behind the scenes, and quite average player in his younger years has given him a well-rounded and informative perspective on the sport. Alongside BarcaBlog founder Francesc, Dan started The Barcelona Podcast in 2017