Lionel Messi makes his 500th Barcelona appearance tonight as La Blaugrana host Real Betis without Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta in their line-up.

Despite the experienced trio being named in Barca’s matchday squad, Jeremy Mathieu is preferred to Alba at left-back, Thomas Vermaelen to Pique at centre-back and Sergi Roberto to Iniesta in central midfield.

Betis, meanwhile, make just the one change from their derby stalemate with Sevilla a fortnight ago as Ricky van Wolfswinkel replaces Joaquin on the left wing.

Victories for Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid mean only a win will do for the Catalans, who were recently crowned world champions, if they are to enter the New Year top of La Liga.

Barcelona: Bravo; Alves, Mascherano, Vermaelen, Mathieu; Busquets, Rakitic, Sergi; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

Subs: Ter Stegen, Pique, Iniesta, Bartra, Munir, Alba, Adriano

Real Betis: Adan; Molinero, Bruno, Westermann, Vargas; N'Diaye, Petros; Cejudo, Ceballos, Van Wolfswinkel; Castro

Subs: Gimenez, Pezzella, Digard, Portillo, Piccini, Van der Vaart, Joaquin

Referee: Bikandi Garrido