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Three talking points from Real Betis 1-2 FC Barcelona



Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Barcelona played out their game in hand against Real Betis on Wednesday night as they officially reached the halfway mark of the league season with a 2-1 win. 19 games into the 2022/23 La Liga, Xavi’s men sit on fifty points and have dropped just seven points so far.

Their dominant run of form continued against Los Verdiblancos as they took Manuel Pellegrini’s side apart with relative ease. The visitors were not comfortable in the first half, but Raphinha’s goal blew the game open.

Robert Lewandowski soon doubled the Catalans’ lead from a setpiece, and the result seemed to be set in stone. However, a late own goal by Jules Kounde threw the tie into danger again with seven minutes to go. But Xavi’s men held firm to return home with three points from Betis.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Real Betis 1-2 Barcelona.

1. A performance with many positives

Xavi Hernandez was buzzing after his team’s 2-1 win at Benito Villamarin. Despite the scoreboard suggesting a tight match, he called the performance one of Barcelona’s best this campaign.

It may appear difficult to fathom why the manager reserved the special words for a game with a nervy finish in Seville when Barcelona have won with a dominant scoreline several times this season.

Yet, a deeper look reveals that there was barely any wrong with Barcelona’s performance last night. The coach’s elation is justified, for all he could see after 90 minutes was a host of positives.

Over the 90 minutes, the visitors took their opposition apart piece by piece and did not allow Betis the slightest sniff of a comeback. The Catalans dominated on every statistic and were the superior side without a shade of doubt.

With 64% of the possession, Barcelona recorded 13 shots on the night including three on target. Further, they had three big chances and missed one.

When off the ball, the Catalans pressured the opposition as a single unit and won the ball back almost instantly. They won 64 duels in the 90 minutes with 12 aerials duels too.

2. A night of two full-backs

A star in the making. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Barcelona are truly blessed to have Alejandro Balde in their ranks. The La Masia graduate has taken the football world by storm this season and is carving out a spot for himself in the Blaugrana setup for years to come with his high-quality displays.

The teenager has come a long way from the raw talent he was last year. This season, his displays have a touch of maturity in them that show his rapid growth and a sky-high ceiling.

Against Real Betis, it was once again Balde who broke open the tight defence for Barcelona’s opener. Following a menacing run on the left flank, he fired in a low cross across the face of the goal that no one saw coming. The ball fell at the feet of Raphinha who sent it into the net with his first touch.

In addition to his assist, the teenager recorded three key passes, five defensive actions, and 71 touches at Estadio Benito Villamarin.

Meanwhile, Jules Kounde was no less of a threat at right-back. His eventual own goal in the dying minutes created unnecessary problems in the Catalans’ pursuit of three points, but the fact remains that he was superb up until that point.

Against Real Betis, Kounde made one clearance, two interceptions, and three tackles and blocked one shot. He was also involved in seven duels, winning three of them.

3. And then it was eight

The dream is Catalonia is to build a sizeable lead over the competition in the weeks to come and seal the league title with games to spare.

Barcelona already had a five-point lead over second-placed Real Madrid ahead of kickoff at Benito Villamarin. With the win on Wednesday, that number temporarily has risen to eight.

Real Madrid will face Valencia on Thursday night and will be under a mountain load of pressure to churn out a win. While Los Che are in jeopardy themselves, one must not forget that they caused serious trouble to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup last month.

A difficult month stares Xavi’s side in the eye. Over the next 30 days, they must face Sevilla, Villarreal and Manchester United before the first of three El Clasicos is played in early March. The win over Betis is thus a big morale booster for the Blaugrana as they step into a decisive month of action.

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