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Betis trip gives FC Barcelona chance to extend lead in La Liga

Madrid (Spain), Jan 31 (IANS) FC Barcelona has a difficult away game against Betis on Wednesday, but Xavi Hernandez’s side travels to Seville with the chance of opening an eight-point gap at the top of La Liga and putting the pressure on Real Madrid.

The match against Betis (along with Real Madrid’s clash with Valencia on Thursday) is played now after being postponed due to Barca and Betis facing each other in the Super Cup earlier this month.

Barca eventually triumphed in Saudi Arabia, but needed extra time and a penalty shoot-out to get past Betis, who currently sits sixth in the table and would move level with fourth-placed Atletico Madrid with three points on Wednesday.

The final day of the transfer window looms over preparations for the game, with rumors that Barca right back Hector Bellerin could move to Sporting Lisbon to help free up space and cash to allow Barca to make the last-minute signing of a winger.

The club is looking to bring in another wide player after Ousmane Dembele suffered a thigh injury in the weekend win away to Girona. The French international is expected to be out of action for around a month, but his history of muscle problems means the club will be cautious about his return.

Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres are both back after suspension and the duo’s return will help alleviate Dembele’s loss, with Lewandowski going straight into the attack and either Torres or Raphinha slotting in on the right.

Xavi will make some further rotations to his starting 11, with Alex Balde or Jordi Alba, Andreas Christensen and Sergi Roberto all having options in midfield.

Betis has everyone available with only a slight doubt about striker Borja Iglesias, who carried out recovery work on his own on Monday after scoring the only goal of the game as Betis won 1-0 away to Getafe on Saturday.

–IANS

ak/

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