Barcelona look to stir from poor start in La Liga

MADRID (AFP) – Barcelona have taken solace in the Champions League recently while getting off to their worst start to a La Liga season in almost two decades, leaving Ronald Koeman’s side already under serious pressure before tonight’s (11.15pm Brunei time) meeting with Real Betis.

The Catalans have taken just eight points from their first six matches in La Liga, failing to win any of their last four outings after drawing 1-1 away at 10-man Alaves in the Basque Country last time out.

It is their worst start since 2002/03, a campaign in which they finished sixth, and they are already nine points behind the leaders, Real Sociedad, albeit with two games in hand.

Barca are also eight points adrift of reigning champions Real Madrid and they desperately need a result at home to Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis with a trip to Atletico Madrid coming up next.

“The mood is better, there are new players, young players who are bringing dynamism to the group and the way we play,” insisted Gerard Pique after Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev, their third in three Champions League outings.

The emergence of the likes of Ansu Fati, who turned 18 last weekend, and fellow teenager Pedri does point to a brighter future, but Barca remain mired in crisis off the field after the recent resignation of president Josep Maria Bartomeu.