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Barcelona 5-0 Real Betis: Match Review

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Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona took on Real Betis in the fifth matchday of La Liga EA Sports on Saturday night. Los Verdiblancos, in theory, were the Blaugranas’ most difficult competition yet.

Xavi Hernandez opted to stick with his 4-3-3 setup, albeit not without changes.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen started in goal with Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen manning the central defence. Joao Cancelo and Alejandro Balde completed the back-line.

Gavi, Frenkie de Jong, and Oriol Romeu started in midfield as the manager preferred to rest Ilkay Gundogan. Robert Lewandowski was thus joined by Joao Felix and Ferran Torres in the final third.

The game kicked off in front of a full Estadi Olimpic de Lluis Companys late in the night with the Catalans featuring the altered dynamic on the field.

Its impact was visible from the very start. The Blaugranas had a very clear demarcation of roles in the final third with Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix bringing that clarity with their profiles.

Barcelona began the game with a high press and immediately mounted pressure on the visitors. With two natural full-backs on either side, the attacks poured through from both ends.

It was Los Verdiblancos, however, who got the first big chance of the day. On the break, Isco found Willian Jose who laid it off to Luiz Henrique. Unfortunately for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, the finish was sub-par.

The Catalans mounted their dominance in the period that followed and soon had their first goal of the night. 25 minutes into the game, Oriol Romeu unlocked the Betis defence with a superb ball over the top to set up Joao Felix.

The Portuguese youngster missed the initial volley attempt but displayed tremendous composure to control the ball and slot it in from an acute angle.

Less than ten minutes later, Felix was once again involved in a beautiful piece of build-up as he allowed Christensen’s ball through his legs to set up Lewandowski. With the ball at his feet and only the goalkeeper to beat, the Polish striker made easy work of the chance.

Barcelona had a brief chance to make it three on a vicious counter-attack led by Felix. However, Lewandowski’s final shot was heroically saved by Rui Silva.

At the other end, ter Stegen was forced into action in added time of the first half but stood his ground to deny the visitors any route back.

Heading into the half-time break, Barcelona had a comfortable two-goal cushion and deservedly so after a dominant 45 minutes of football.

The hosts restarted the second half in the same vein as the first and ran riot on the field.

Barcelona continued to dominate the proceedings in terms of possession and chances created. Felix put the ball in the back of the net just around the hour mark but was flagged offside.

The goals continued to tumble in for Barcelona, the third of which came through Ferran Torres’ sensational free-kick. The Spaniard fired a low bullet around the wall and into the back of the net to score the team’s first official free-kick goal since Lionel Messi back in 2021.

Xavi brought on Gundogan, Raphinha, and Lamine Yamal in the 64th minute for Romeu, Felix and Torres.

Almost with his first touch after coming on, Raphinha fired an unstoppable strike from the edge of the box and beat the goalkeeper to make it 4-0.

Marcos Alonso and Inigo Martinez came on for Balde and Christensen in the 75th minute as Xavi made his final changes of the match.

With ten minutes left for the 90-minute mark Joao Cancelo enjoyed his special moment at Montjuic. The full-back worked his way to the edge of the box before leaving a defender for the dead and firing the ball past substitute goalkeeper Fran Vieites from outside the box. 5-0 it was.

Los Verdiblancos had little strength to retaliate after the repeated blows and the result was written in stone. Ter Stegen made a critical save in the dying minutes to keep the clean sheet while the forwards came close to making it six on multiple occasions.

With by far their season-best performance against Real Betis, Barcelona move to provisional first place on the league standings. Real Madrid will have to take all three points against Real Sociedad on Sunday night to reclaim their lead.

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