Betis vs Barcelona came in a positive moment for the Catalans. After the thriller mid-week against Granada, Barcelona travelled to Seville to face Betis in a poised match-up in La Liga. Goals and drama have been ever-present with a total of 36 goals in the last 6 games between the two teams.
Betis vs Barcelona – the line-ups
The great midfield partnership between Busquets-De Jong-Pedri was broken up for Busquets-Pjanic-Puig. Griezmann and Dembele started once again up front with support from Braithwaite also.
Despite all the changes, Ronald Koeman trusted his squad to kick on from that performance against Granada even without Messi in the team. It didn’t quite work out.
First half review – trouble at both ends of the field
Araujo suffered an injury that did not look too good as he twisted his ankle while attempting a pass. He had to come off, and with Umtiti on the bench, Ronald Koeman decided to give his critics some more decisions to talk about. Frenkie De Jong was selected and given the task to cover Borja Iglesias as the Dutchman played in the CB position for the rest of the half.
The team lacked cohesion, couldn’t hold possession for long, and obviously, the creativity wasn’t on the usual level. Too many wrong decisions in the final third or poor finishing meant Barcelona wasn’t a significant threat to Betis.
Defensively, Betis kept on attacking through the right and testing the triangle Pjanic-Araujo-Mingeza. Few early opportunities for the host needed the clearances of Araujo and Lenget and let Barcelona know they will bother them throughout the night.
They have also managed to create few good chances and kept their intensity throughout the game. In periods of the game, Betis looked like the dangerous team and hence their shot map illustrates that.
Second half review – Messi and another comeback
With the introduction of Messi, everyone else also came to life. It is very frustrating to see that change in the tempo with and without Messi in the team. Of course, there is going to be a difference in the performance but the first-half performance was pretty poor, especially after the gutsy, determined, and full of emotions triumph in Copa del Rey.
Dembele was finding himself isolated in the first half, and the team relied on individuals to sparkle anything in the final third. In the build-up for the first goal, he holds the ball well and finds Messi in a little pocket of space when he can receive and shoot on the half turn. Great sense of space, from both Dembele and Messi to produce the equalizer.
For the second goal Lionel Messi once again a great piece of imagination finding the run of Alba and creating a clear opportunity. Fortunate with the deflection after the scruffy finish from Griezmann, but justified as the build-up play deserved to end up in a goal.
If there is a moment to mention the cliché that states “every mistake costs you at the highest level” definitely that is the third Barcelona goal. Half a moment of hesitation from the defender means Trincao strips him off the ball and with his second touch sends the ball in the top corner for the winning goal.
The defensive inconsistency continues
Another underwhelming performance in defence let to conceding goals that were preventable.
A poor piece of one on one defending from Jordi Alba who lets Emerson run past him and the same situation is played in the middle of the field where Borja Igleasias outruns Busquets. 1:0
It would almost not be Barcelona if few danger moments does not come up from set-pieces. Brilliant delivery from Fekir made the job of Victor Ruiz very easy and brought Betis back level with 15 minutes to play.
Despite all the work that needs to be done in the attacking phase, defensively the team keeps on conceding poor goals and there are no signs of improvement. Possibly a situation the team has to work with until the end of the season.
Even though Barcelona had the majority of the ball, clear situations weren’t created consistently.
The shot charts demonstrate exactly that. Few good chances but nothing compared to the Copa del Rey game.
Nevertheless, Barcelona managed to go back to second in the league with the three points. It is hard to predict where this team is going to finish at the end of the season, but it is true also that while the points keep on pilling up, nobody will have reasons to raise questions.
Expected or not, the team is winning at this moment and that’s the most important thing. On to Sevilla!