Barcelona pulled off a win, though unconvincingly, in the Copa del Rey by beating Unionistas de Salamance 3-1.
The Catalan side now return to LaLiga action when they take on Real Betis at the Benito Villamarin. Things have not been easy for Xavi Hernandez and his side who are still stinging from the 4-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.
"Real Betis have not lost at home for many games," Xavi said in his pre-match press conference. "It's true that we are behind Girona and Real Madrid by a lot of points, but we think we can overcome it, and that depends on us. Betis play well, but they also let you play. It's the best setting to see a good Barça."
As things stand, Barcelona is currently seven points Real Madrid and eight points behind Girona. They cannot afford to drop any more points if they want to have a legitimate shot at winning LaLiga, which is already becoming almost impossible.
In addition to the long-term absences of Gavi, Marcos Alonso and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona will still be without Joao Cancelo and Andreas Christensen. The Danish center-back was subbed out in their last match and while his injury isn't seen as serious, he did not make the squad list.
However, Xavi will have Ronald Araujo and Lamine Yamal back. Both players were suspended for the Copa del Rey match.
As Xavi mentioned, Real Betis are a team who like to play offensive football, meaning they're prone to leaving space in the back which Barcelona hope to exploit. Though Betis could change it up given how much Barcelona struggle to not only convert but create opportunities against a team who sit back and give little room to operate.
As was shown in the loss to Real Madrid, it doesn't take much to get at Barcelona, especially on the counter. This means they'll have to pay special attention to a player like Isco who has found a second career at Real Betis and has the ability to scan the open space and deliver a final pass.
At this point in the season, winning is going to be what matters for Barcelona whether supporters like it or not. Everyone wants to see the performances improve but given how far they are in the league, they need to get all three points. Xavi is managing for his job and despite some of his discourse, he is going to want to win and worry about the how later.