Barcelona had to show some improvements from their showing against Dynamo Kyiv Wednesday. Ronald Koeman, perhaps worried about Lionel Messi’s fitness, benched the Argentine legend and his starting lineup was a surprising one.
A front four composed of Ousmane Dembélé, Ansu Fati, Pedri, and Antoine Griezmann looked decent on paper, and they did play well. In the first 15 minutes, Barça deserved to score four goals.
In the 22nd minute, Dembélé received the ball on the edge of the area, performed his trademark crochet, and sent a rocket towards the top corner. This goal, with his left, was exquisite and showed how much the Frenchman has matured since his injury-plagued seasons at Camp Nou.
📸 — Messi applauding Dembélé’s goal from the stands. pic.twitter.com/GKjVhchzny— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) November 7, 2020
Antoine Griezmann had a chance to break his goalscoring duck after Fati won a penalty. The 29-year-old missed from the spot, and it was another miserable night in front of goal for him.
The Verdiblancos’ attacks came exclusively on the left and ex-La Masía star Christian Tello was the poison again. The winger delivered a perfect cross to Antonio Sanabria, whose shot ended in the top corner, punishing Barcelona right before the half-time whistle for the chances they missed throughout the game.
First-half score: Barcelona 1-1 Real Betis
After conceding late in the first half, Koeman made some changes at half time. Fati would come off for Lionel Messi. Messi’s involvement came directly. After a superb run and pass from Jordi Alba, the Argentine forward jumped over the ball and Griezmann scored in an open net. The Frenchman would be at it again as his superb pass to Messi led to Dembélé shooting and causing Aïssa Mandi’s expulsion.
Leo scored the penalty and added one later in the half. Sergi Roberto’s superb backheel pass came right into La Pulga’s path, and he crucified his former teammate Claudio Bravo. The 33-year-old would’ve had a hat-trick had the Spanish full-back not strayed offside. Before Leo’s second, Loren Morón had found the net after Roberto deserted the right side. Conceding against a ten-man side is never a good look.
After getting off the mark in the Champions League a few weeks ago, Pedri opened his counter in La Liga. Roberto’s cross came right into his path, and the teenager compiled the misery.
Overall, this was an excellent performance from Koeman’s men. They were focused for most of the game, but there are still these lapses where the players’ concentration is just not there. Something to improve quickly as they go to Madrid to face Atletico after the break.
Full-time score: Barcelona 5-2 Real Betis
Roberto, Pique, Lenglet, Alba;
Busquets, de Jong;
Dembele, Pedri, Fati;
Goals: 22′ Dembélé, 49′ Griezmann, 61′ Messi, 82′ Messi, 90′ Pedri
Subtitutions: 45′ Messi for Fati, 66′ Trincao for Dembélé, 78′ Braithwaite for Griezmann, 86′ Pjanic for Busquets
Moreno, Bartra, Mandi, Emerson;
Tello, Canales, Joaquin;
Goals: 45′ Sanabria, 73′ Morón García
Substitutions: 63′ Ruibal for Joaquin, Victor Ruiz for Tello, 86′ Rodrigues for Canales
Red Card: 60′ Aïssa Mandi
FC Barcelona – Real Betis
18 – Shots – 11
9 – Shots on target – 6
60% – Possession – 40%
89% – Pass accuracy – %81
7 – Fouls – 10
2- Yellow cards – 2
0 – Red cards – 1
3 – Offsides – 1
9 – Corners – 4
That brings an end to the Match Report of the Barcelona vs Real Betis game.
Barcelona player ratings vs Sevilla — Hosts unable to get past Mingueza, the wall
Turning headless chickens into mature students of the game turned out to be Ronald Koeman’s biggest achievement at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, where the Catalan giants had recently just suffered a disappointing loss. On the score-sheet, the margin may not have looked considerable, but on the field, Barcelona were pretty much untouchable, courtesy in large parts to the structural change made by Koeman.
A performance this cohesive and harmonized was much needed after the countless defeats Barça have suffered on the big stage. Everything Cules have strived to see in this team, was present, and while consistency has been the club’s biggest hurdle, this win undoubtedly holds a great deal of significance.
The Blaugranas have arguably exerted more energy in other games over the course of the campaign, but the spirit Barcelona lacked suddenly came to life. The pressing was in sync, every move was calculated and well crafted. Playing the Barcelona way in hostile territory against a team as dominant as Sevilla brought back life into a team devoid of wins in high magnitude encounters.
Marc-André Ter Stegen: 7
Ter Stegen oozed confidence as he came off his line and claimed the ball several times. Not only did he display composure, but the German rushed out of his box on one occasion to clear the ball and remove any danger that Sevilla’s potential attack possessed. With the exception of a poor pass, his distribution was immaculate. Even so, it must be admitted that the Sevilla forwards barely tested ter Stegen in goal with dangerous attempts on target.
Oscar Mingueza: 8.5
Oscar Mingueza was a vital reason as to why the Blaugrana defence was impenetrable. Piementa’s prodigy did not allow Lopetegui’s men to advance into any areas on the right side of the field. He won 6 out his 9 duels along winning 5 tackles, proving the 21-year-old’s precise ball-winning abilities remain crucial. Not to mention, his exceptional ball-playing ability enabled Barça to play with a high line thus applying further pressure on Sevilla.
Pique was the nail in the coffin to Barça’s counter-pressing strategies. The players would press the Sevilla Keeper and force him to heave the ball away, and this is where Pique’s aerial ability flourished, which particularly authorized the Catalans to regain possession. The Spanish veteran won 5 out of 7 of his aerial duels, thus showing his dominance in that area of play. His distribution was reliable as always and allowed the Catalans to retain a high defensive line at selected times.
The Frenchman is on route to recovering the form he once had, and this performance should do his confidence a world of good. Still prone to making errors, he dealt with Sevilla’s threat in a respectable manner. An improvement was observed in his ability to stay ahead of his man, which led to his positioning being marginally better. His second-half performance was key to the win as he stepped up after Pique and Ronald Araujo had to be subbed off. Lenglet must be appreciated for his tackling as they successfully neutralized a few well-structured attacks from the hosts.
Sergiño Dest: 7
Despite typically being perceived as a full-back, Ronald Koeman handed Dest the responsibility to play higher up the field as a right-wing-back. The American speedster enjoyed his new role with piercing runs behind Sevilla’s defence and looked a lot more explosive, with defensive cover behind him.
Sergino Dest vs Sevilla:— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) February 28, 2021
• Touches: 58
• Accurate passes: 36/42 (86%)
• Shots: 2
• Ground duels (won): 4 (2)
• Fouls won: 2
• Clearances: 2
• Interceptions: 2
— SofaScore pic.twitter.com/IjN74fDwhc
Dest launched a couple of promising crosses, but a major issue was that he shied away from entering 1v1 duels and instinctively looked to send in crosses. The US international also came oh-so-close to scoring after striking the post on one occasion.
Jordi Alba: 7.5
Similar to his wing-back partner in crime, Jordi Alba raided forward at any given opportunity, stretching the play wide and utilizing his raw pace throughout. Without having to worry about his defensive duties, the marauding Spaniard looked a lot more imposing. He was just inches away from tapping the ball into the opposition net after proceedings.
Frenkie de Jong: 8.5
De Jong’s season just proceeds to take massive leaps as the Dutchman proved to be a defining factor in the Catalans’ applaudable 2-0 victory. In spite of not stamping his name on the score-sheet, De Jong’s performance was worthy of endless praise, almost making it seem as if he was carrying around an extra pair of lungs. The former Ajax wonderboy surged forward, breaking the opposition’s lines tirelessly and constantly squirming his way out of tight areas.
Sergio Busquets: 7.5
The ageing veteran appeared to be recreating glimpses from the past as his counter-pressing was absolutely decisive in the Catalans’ attacking plays. Sergio Busquets – unlike most big game he has participated in – was not cheaply bullied off the ball and made possession purposeful for the Blaugranas. With defensive aid behind him, Busquets was back to his brilliant best.
The cog in Ronald Koeman’s midfield was once again a trusty figure in midfield and managed to string together some impressive plays in what appeared to be a 3-5-2 formation. Though Pedri’s involvement was substantially lower than usual, his display was mainly impeded by an injury he suffered in the 71st minute, disabling him from completing the full 90 minutes.
Lionel Messi: 8.5
Against his favourite opposition, Lionel Messi savoured the occasion to the fullest. The Argentine was an influential figure in the club’s victory away from home, with his creativity and efficiency in front of goal second to none. In the 29th minute of the game, Leo spotted a raiding Ousmane Dembélé through on goal as he bagged himself an assist for the Frenchman’s finish.
To cap off his outing, Barcelona’s captain weaved his way past a couple of Sevilla defenders and, after failing to chip the keeper, delicately slotted it into the net.
Ousmane Dembélé: 8
Sevilla were haplessly left chasing Ousmane Dembélé’s shadows. The Frenchman – without having to worry about his defensive tasks – waltzed forward continuously and enjoyed playing as a secondary striker, making runs in behind the defence and eventually proving his worth with a beautifully placed goal just before the half-hour mark. A much more mature and composed exhibition from the electric winger.
Ilaix Moriba: 7
Ronald Araujo: N/A
Martin Braithwaite: N/A
Samuel Umtiti: N/A