Barcelona marched closer to La Liga title glory with a 4-0 win over ten-man Real Betis on Sunday night. Andreas Christensen opened the scoring in the 14th minute. After that, the wind only moved in one direction, as the Blaugrana added three more goals through Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, and Guido Rogriguez (own-goal).
As the game progressed, Manuel Pellegrini’s men made things easier for Barcelona. Edgar Gonzalez’s sending-off left the visitors with 10 men and after Joaquin’s injury, they were reduced to nine before the full-time whistle.
Barca extended their lead to 11 points with last night’s win and before second-placed Real Madrid play again, Xavi’s side will have the opportunity to put 14 points between them and Los Blancos with a win over Osasuna, who fell short 2-0 against fellow European football hopefuls Real Sociedad over the weekend.
Last 5 games
Win: 4-0 vs Real Betis
Loss: 1-2 vs Rayo Vallecano
Win: 1-0 vs Atletico Madrid
Draw: 0-0 vs Getafe
Draw: 0-0 vs Girona
Loss: 0-2 vs Real Sociedad
Win: 1-0 vs Cadiz
Win: 3-2 vs Real Betis
Loss: 1-2 vs Rayo Vallecano
Win: 2-1 vs Elche
Head to Head
Barcelona are unbeaten in their last five La Liga games against Osasuna, winning four games and drawing one with an aggregate score of 14-3. Their last set-back came in July of 2020, as Roberto Torres’s stoppage-time strike made it 2-1 and stunned the side that had Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez on the pitch.
The last encounter between the two sides in November was equally dramatic. David Garcia gave the hosts a sixth-minute lead and then on the half-hour mark, Robert Lewandowski received a red card. Osasuna returned after the break with a man and a-goal advantage and heavy favorites to win all three points. But Pedri and Raphinha got on the score sheet to engineer a fantastic comeback.
Ousmane Dembele returned to action on Saturday after a three-month lay-off and is expected to start during the mid-week fixture. Christensen, the scorer against Betis, also showed he’s ready for another start after recovering from a calf injury. Lamine Yamal featured last night and became the youngest player to ever debut for the first team. He should get another call-up against Osasuna.
Pedri has started back-to-back games after returning from injury, and should ideally get rest in favour of Franck Kessie. Another potential option for the Barca boss is to drop Gavi back into the midfield and give much-needed minutes to Ansu Fati or Ferran Torres. It was the former’s cross that touched Rodriguez before beating the Betis keeper for the fourth goal.
Meanwhile, Sergi Roberto is out due to a hamstring issue.
In Osasuna’s camp, Darko Brasanac remains out with a knee injury.
Ter Stegen (GK), Kounde, Araujo, Christensen, Balde, Kessie, Busquets, De Jong, Dembele, Lewandowski, Gavi
Luton Town: 4-2-3-1
Herrera (GK), Pena, Hernandez, Cruz, Sanchez, Moncayola, Munoz, Barja, Oroz, Gomez, Kike
Players to Watch
In the first half of the season, the Frenchman was among the top assist makers in La Liga with five assists. But following his lengthy spell on the sidelines, Dembele has lost ground on the likes of Antonie Griezmann (10) and Vinicius Junior (9). The home fixture against Osasuna will give the dynamic winger a good opportunity to make things right and show what Barcelona have been missing all these months.
The Spanish right-winger is Osasuna’s most creative player and has managed as many assists as Dembele in the league. Barcelona have kept 24 clean sheets this season and in order to cut open that defence, Barje will have to step up in a big way.
Where Will The Game Be Decided?
Osasuna’s only hope against Barcelona is containing their attack as long as possible, and hitting Xavi’s midfield on the break. Dembele isn’t as good and aware defensively as Raphinha, and should he get the nod ahead of the Brazilian, Moi Gómez will get a few opportunities to attack the space behind. Goalkeeper Sergio Herrera, who conceded an own goal against Real Sociedad, will have to deliver a solid performance between the sticks to prevent his net from rattling.
But if Barca finds an early goal, it’ll be a long night at Camp Nou for Jagoba Arrasate’s men, especially considering Lewandowski’s return to scoring form.
With 42 points in 16 games, the La Liga leaders have the best home record in Spain’s top flight this campaign.
Osasuna trail Athletic Club by just two points for the Europa Conference League position and have booked a place in the Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid. They are certainly capable of grinding out surprising results.
But considering Barcelona’s squad depth – boosted by the return of several top stars – and their dominating performance against Betis, it’s tough to see any other winner on Tuesday night in Catalunya. Barcelona 2-0 Osasuna.
The kickoff is at 15:30 GMT Tuesday at Spotify Camp Nou.