Real Betis vs. Barcelona: Lionel Messi Chases Pichichi Trophy, Carles Puyol out
Real Madrid have clinched the La Liga title, leaving Barcelona to play for pride and momentum as it looks toward the Copa del Rey final on May 25 against Athletico Bilbao.
Meanwhile, Betis is looking to finish strong in the La Liga table. They currently sit in 12th place with 46 points. Realistically, they can finish as high as 11th should they find a way to beat Barcelona.
Where: Estadio Benito Villamarín, Sevilla
When: Saturday, May 12 at 3:55 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN2, ESPN3.com, ESPN Deportes
Surgery for Carles Puyol:
Puyol suffered an injury to his right knee in last weekend's win against Espanyol.
Manager Vicente Del Bosque admitted to AS that losing Puyol is a significant blow to the team, according to ESPN.
"It's a serious setback, he's a considerable loss not only for what he gives on the pitch, but for what he contributes to the team (off it)," Del Bosque said. "It's also a shame that this happened when he was on the verge of playing 100 caps, but hopefully he can get there. He was having a great end to the season.''
Puyol is expected to miss six weeks including the Copa del Rey final and could miss Euro 2012 for Spain. He is one cap short of 100 international caps for Spain.
Player To Watch: Lionel Messi
Messi scored twice the last time these two teams met. He can add some goals to his season total of 50 goals in La Liga and his 72 goals in all competitions.
He can score at least one more time to further separate himself from Cristiano Ronaldo's 45 La Liga goals.
Messi is looking to win the Pichichi Trophy, which goes to the highest goalscorer in La Liga, for the second time in three years. It would be the second time Messi has won the award overall.
Ronaldo won the award last year.
Prediction: Barcelona 4, Real Betis 3
Barcelona gave up a two-goal lead the last time they faced Betis.
Betis thought they were headed for a result before Barcelona stretched the Betis defense and scored the go-ahead goal in the 75th minute. Messi finished Betis off with an easy penalty-kick for the 4-2 win.
Barcelona cannot take Betis lightly, however. They are very well-disciplined, and given that there is nothing too significant to play for in the last match of the La Liga season, both teams will take gambles.
Both teams will put more players forward in an attempt to score as well.
Ultimately, Barcelona will be too much given their talented squad and their attempt at maintaining momentum for the Copa del Rey final.
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