Barcelona’s 90 minutes of football against Real Betis was perhaps the most enjoyable 90 minutes of action presented by the Blaugranas in recent times. Nothing, as they say, could have gone better.
It was a fairytale night for Xavi men in every sense of the word. From fans making the long and tiring trip to Montjuic to fill the house to Barcelona’s flawless night, it was paradise.
Joao Felix, Robert Lewandowski, Ferran Torres, Raphinha, and Joao Cancelo all got on the scoresheet on the night in a wonder show.
Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Barcelona 5-0 Real Betis.
90 minutes of flawless football
Barcelona’s 90 minutes against Real Betis last night was poetic in every sense of the word. The ball flowed through the Verdiblancos’ setup with ease on the night, and it was always clear that only one team nestled in the driver’s seat.
The first half saw Manuel Pellegrini’s side offer some resistance and create chances of their own. Albeit seldom, Real Betis at least created a few chances that could have been put away.
Despite the fight mounted by the visitors, however, Barcelona were on song. Joao Felix deservedly put the first goal past Rui Silva before he wonderfully set the ball on a platter for Robert Lewandowski to slam home minutes later.
After the break, it was one-way traffic. Real Betis were completely lost for answers and they aimlessly chased after the ball hoping to create a spell of possession.
In the end, Barcelona’s cohesion and high pressure was simply too much for the Seville-based side’s resistance. The goals began to flow in for Barcelona, and the fresh legs of Lamine Yamal, Ilkay Gundogan, and Raphinha only furthered their case.
Last night’s game was truly the Catalans’ best performance of the season so far, not only in terms of quality but also the fact that they did not drop their guard for the entire 90 minutes. A massive confidence booster.
Equally potent wings
It has become customary to associate Barcelona’s attacks with the left flank in recent seasons. After all, the right-back position has been existentially inexistent in the Blaugrana setup for a long time.
At first, it was Jordi Alba who made the penetrating runs down the left flank to create openings. Last season, the guard changed and Alejandro Balde took over the responsibility.
The game against Pellegrini’s side, in that sense, marks the beginning of a new era. After all, it was the first time Barcelona appeared equally threatening down both sides of the field in a long time.
Balde and Joao Felix combined forces down the left flank to create serious problems in the final third. The La Masia starlet played close to the by-line and stretched Betis’ defence while the Portuguese protege drifted centrally to link with Lewandowski and the left-back.
A similar combination erupted on the right side. Joao Cancelo made his first start of the season for Barcelona, and boy did he have an impact.
The right-back struck up a wonderful combination with Ferran Torres down the right with both players alternating in central and peripheral roles. As an inverting full-back, Cancelo often made runs in between the defenders to release Torres into space on the flank.
Moreover, the Portuguese full-back scored a sensational goal in the second half to make it 5-0 to the Catalans.
Is it finally Joao Felix’s time?
Joao Felix has not had it easy since his move to Atletico Madrid back in 2019. The youngster suffered four torrential years at the Spanish capital in a setup that did not suit him before moving to Chelsea on loan for another disappointing stint.
At just 23 years of age, however, the world knows that Felix has a high ceiling that just needs the right nurturing to be tapped. Many felt Barcelona may not be the right system for his potential, but the youngster proved his haters wrong with an incredible display on Saturday night.
Felix was proactive on the ball from the get-go and actively involved in the build-up play. He utilised his ability to sneak between the lines to the maximum and helped Barcelona open up the Betis defence time after time.
He deservedly got the opening goal for the Catalans at Estadi Olimpid de Lluis Companys, but it was not an easy finish by any means. Receiving Oriol Romeu’s ball over the top, Felix miscued the initial volley but followed through well to take it past Rui Silva and deposit it from a difficult angle.
Minutes later, he intelligently let the ball through his legs to set up Lewy for the team’s second. He may not have been rewarded the assist, but his contribution quite literally created the goal.
Felix, in fact, made it three for Barcelona early in the second half with an instinctive finish but was flagged offside.
Interestingly, he spoke to the media after the game where he conveyed an interesting point about his link-up with Lewandowski.
“I tried to stay close to Lewandowski so he wouldn’t be isolated in attack. The striker can’t be left alone like that. He talked to me at the start of the match,” he said.
With Felix close to him at all times, Lewandowski had a significantly improved game last night including a goal and two assists. It remains to be seen if Xavi rewards the combination with more minutes together in the coming weeks.