Real Betis travel to Catalonia this afternoon intent on felling a top side for the first time this season. The Andalusians will be facing a Barcelona team that have stuttered domestically and will have had less time to prepare for the fixture following their Champions League clash with Dynamo Kyiv last Wednesday.
A key figure in Betis’ ambitions will be Cristian Tello, a Sabadell-born winger who joined the club after spending six years with Barcelona between 2011 and 2017.
Like many of his generation, including Betis teammate Marc Bartra and the Alcântara brothers Rafinha and – remarkably – Thiago, Tello had to leave Camp Nou to become his own man, and has in recent times begun to flourish in Seville.
The Spaniard has four goals and one assist in eight appearances thus far in 2020/21, and has been involved in 50% of Betis’ goals this campaign according to Transfermarkt. Tello seems to be thriving under new coach Manuel Pellegrini and the solidity the Chilean has installed at the Benito Villamarín.
David Rubio, writing in Sport, agrees, claiming that “three years after his signing he is showing a sensational level of performance due to the confidence shown in him by Pellegrini and the absence of the muscular discomfort that has tormented him since his arrival in Heliópolis.
“The Catalan, ‘a bullet’ as Pep Guardiola defined him on the day of his first league goal, needs to feel important to perform at his best and is finally smiling again as he celebrates his goals. At 29, he’ll be hoping that Luis Enrique notices him [and calls him up to the Spanish national team] as he has already done with his Tello’s team-mate Sergio Canales.”
Betis are currently sitting in seventh, four points clear of Barcelona in 12th. The Catalans do, however, have two games in hand after their late start due to last season’s European commitments. Victory for Betis could lift the Andalusians into the Champions League places.
Featured image courtesy of Diario de Sevilla.