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Barcelona vs. Real Betis Match Preview as Lionel Messi eyes No. 500 and world champs aim for top spot

Barcelona return to domestic action as part of a packed La Liga schedule on Wednesday, with no fewer than 18 of the division’s 20 teams in action.

While Real Madrid host Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid travel to Rayo Vallecano, Barcelona welcome mid-table Real Betis to the Nou Camp.

The Catalan giants begin the day as league leaders, level on points with second-placed Atletico Madrid, having played a game more. The duo—both on 35 points—are two ahead of Real Madrid in third.

While Barca reaffirmed their class with a competent—and victorious—showing at the Club World Cup, including a magnificent showings against River Plate in the final, they will need to sharpen their focus once again ahead of Wednesday’s La Liga bout.

Luis Enrique’s side need a big performance following two back-to-back draws in the top flight ahead of their jaunt to Japan, but the coach will be aware that, with a testing fixture list to come in January, he may need to rotate in order to keep his important players fresh.

While some familiar faces will be missing, Lionel Messi will surely be present, with the global superstar set for his 500th appearance for the Nou Camp heavyweights—a fitting landmark for a giant of the club.

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