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Three talking points from Real Betis 2-4 Barcelona | La Liga

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Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona’s 4-2 win last night was far from the dominant 5-0 win they put up against Real Betis earlier in the season. Given the circumstances it came in, however, it could well be a more significant win.

The Blaugranas were made to work hard at Benito Villamarin on the night, especially in the second half when Isco rapidly levelled the score and made Barcelona’s two-goal lead disappear.

Yet, the Catalans battled on, resilient in defence and persistent in attack. Joao Felix found a late winner in the penultimate minute before Ferran Torres sealed the cherry on the cake minutes later.

Barça Universal brings you three talking points from Real Betis vs Barcelona.

Half of dominance

Isco’s quickfire double in the second half may have complicated Barcelona’s path to three points at Benito Villamarin. Yet, it remains uncontested that for the first 45 minutes, Barcelona were back to their dominant best last night.

It has been a long time since the Catalans dominated a game with such flair. The defence looked reassured, the midfield trio was fluid and dynamic in possession and the wingers out wide created threats with wonderful combinations.

The fact that Barcelona unravelled and gave up their lead stands as a glaring deficiency. Yet, the very idea of the team dominating half of football once more just goes on to show that they are on the right track back.

In the first half at Seville alone, Xavi’s men created an xG of 1.4 and had two big chances. They boasted of 72% possession, hit the woodwork once, and completed a stunning 61% of dribbles attempted as a team. The high and effective press only made the game more pleasing to watch.

If one goes on to point out the negatives from the night, there are umpteen number of them. From Inaki Pena’s poor game to Robert Lewandowski’s continued misery, the list has no end.

Yet, all that will interest Xavi is that his team has been progressively better since the defeat in El Clasico, both in terms of results and performance. The clash against Betis is the latest testament.

Hat-trick hero

The shark bites again. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Barcelona’s attack on Sunday night rested on the shoulders of one man, Ferran Torres. The Spaniard is one of the team’s more underrated stars this season, and his special night was well and truly deserved.

The winger was all over the Betis defence, making constant runs into the area and pouncing on chances like a true number nine. It appeared as though Xavi had specifically asked him to shoot without fear, for the manager constantly appreciated every attempt Torres made at goal.

The 23-year-old opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a simple finish off Pedri’s pass across the face of the goal. It was not a jaw-dropping effort, but his knack for being in the right place at the right time paid dividends.

Ferran doubled his tally minutes into the second period with another simple finish, this time courtesy of Lamine Yamal. The young prodigy’s shot on goal found the woodwork but fell kindly for Torres in the face of the goal.

The former Manchester City star completed his hat-trick in added time in the night with arguably his trickiest finish of all. He received a sumptuous assist from Yamal once again and was through on goal. Maintaining his cool, Torres chipped the ball over Rui Silva to complete his hat trick. Man of the match.

Cubarsi is ready

If Torres stood out in Barcelona’s final third, there was an equally impressive performance at the other end of the field. La Masia starlet Pau Cubarsi, just 17 years old, was handed his first start for the senior team in the absence of Andreas Christensen and Inigo Martinez and did not disappoint.

At no point in the game did Cubarsi seem out of his depth, and that says a lot for a player with minimal experience in top-flight football.

In 81 minutes against Los Verdiblancos, the teenager racked up two clearances, blocked one shot, and made two tackles and an interception. Further, he won three duels and was not dribbled past on the night.

In terms of distribution, Cubarsi was phenomenal. He completed a staggering 94% of his attempted passes on the night, four out of five attempted long balls, and lost possession just four times. 

Last night was Cubarsi’s announcement of his arrival on the big stage, and he could be a critical part of the team going forward this season.

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