Barcelona have had a horror last few days, and the only tonic for their woes is a big win over Real Betis in the La Liga on Saturday.
Where to Watch Live:
The game is scheduled for a 6 pm local time (9.30 pm IST, 5 pm GMT, 12 pm ET) start with live coverage on Star Sports 1 in India. The game can also be watched via live streaming online in India HERE. Catch the action in the US and Canada HERE, in the UK HERE and in Latin America HERE. Watch the came in the Middle East and North Africa HERE, while the action can be live streamed in Sub Saharan Africa and South Africa HERE.
Following a disappointing 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinal first leg in midweek, Barcelona were handed a big-time body blow with FIFA setting a one-year transfer ban on the club for their irregularities in signing under-18 players.
Barca have vehemently denied any wrongdoing, but it is inevitable that such issues will have a detrimental effect on the players. However, the only way to move on from adversity is with results, and Gerardo Martino will hope for a positive one against Betis, who looked destined for relegation, as they currently lie nine points adrift of safety, with just seven games remaining.
"Our whole focus is on Betis," Martino said. "It is the most important game and one that could allow us to stay alive in La Liga.
"We can't take Betis lightly. They have great players who play with heart and courage, and will fight until the last minute. We have to understand that they are suffering and that they'll try to recover against us."
Barcelona are a point behind Atletico Madrid, who play the early game and could go four points clear at the top, which would in turn put further pressure on the Barca players to pick up all three points from the Camp Nou.
"There is no possible or valid excuse, neither injuries nor problems outside of the football," Martino added. "If we win we'll have had a good season and if we don't win we won't have had a good season. We are the first people who don't want excuses and we accept the situation as it is."
Barca also suffered some bad news on the injury front as well, with Gerard Pique picking up a hairline fracture on his hip, which has ruled him out of action for at least a month.
Due to Pique's injury, Martino has called up Carles Puyol, who is looking to make a long-awaited return from injury. "At the moment we've called up Puyol, but we won't know until Saturday if he can play or not," Martino said on Friday.
For Betis, it will be a game in which they have nothing to lose. They already look set to go down, and the only way they can possibly stay up is by picking up three points at every possible opportunity. A win over the mighty Barcelona will be a huge achievement, and manager Gabriel Calderon is hopeful of a huge upset.
"As a maximum we can lose one match, but we must win the rest," he said. "We need to take it game by game. We know what it means to go to Barcelona and who we're up against, but we're thinking about winning the game."