Real Betis vs. Barcelona: Most Important Players in La Liga Clash

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 01:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammate Jordi Alba (C) and Cesc Fabregas after scoring his team's fifth goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club at Camp Nou on December 1, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Few clubs in the world have the ability to defeat FC Barcelona, but Real Betis can pull off the upset with the help of some key players.

Of course, the squad currently on top of La Liga has plenty of talent on its roster as well.

Each side brings something to the table in this important league matchup, and both clubs want to leave with three points. However, the match will come down to the contributions of these players. 


Lionel Messi, Barcelona

Although he injured his knee in the previous match against Benfica, Lionel Messi is set to play on Sunday (via ESPN).

Keeping the best goal scorer in the world in the lineup is always important.

Messi is one goal away from tying Gerd Mueller's record for most goals in a calendar year with 85. With four more matches remaining in 2012, he should reach this mark without a problem.

Still, this will likely cause the forward to be even more aggressive around the net, which could end up being trouble for Real Betis. If the defensive players loses sight of him for an instant, he will make them pay with a goal or two or three.


Cesc Fabregas, Barcelona

Although Messi is set to play, Barcelona should still be cautious about an injury to its top offensive player. The team has lofty goals within La Liga and Champions League, so it is important not to risk further injuries for the benefit of one match.

If Messi is limited at all, it will be up to Cesc Fabregas to take over the offensive production for this squad. He leads the squad with nine assists and has five goals on the season.

He'll need to look for his own shot more to overcome the potential loss of Messi.

There is enough talent on the defensive side to keep this match low-scoring, but the midfield and forwards need to attack to come out with another win.


Ruben Casto, Real Betis

No one is going to top Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi as the top scorers in the league this season, but Ruben Castro is not far behind.

He is currently tied for fourth in La Liga with eight goals and is coming off his best game of the year. Against Deportivo, he put two balls in the back of the net.

Castro gives Real Betis a veteran presence and a legitimate threat to score against this elite opponent. He needs to take advantage of whatever opportunity he has during the game and make sure he does not miss when he is close.

Barcelona has as much talent as any club in the world, so Castro needs to be active throughout the match to give his side chance.


Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Real Betis

The goalkeeper will not have an easy time against this offensive juggernaut. Still, Adrian has shown he has what it takes to help his team pull off the upset.

Against Real Madrid, he earned a clean sheet that allowed Real Betis to come away with a tough victory.

Barcelona will bring a lot of pressure and take a lot of shots, so Adrian will need to be awake throughout the match. If he can live up to the challenge, his team will have a chance to win.

On the other hand, he has proven to be inconsistent this year. A bad performance would end this match in a hurry.