As the Catalans collided against the team from Seville in a very hotly anticipated La Liga Santander clash, it was the team from Barcelona that ended up emerging victorious. With only one goal separating both sides, as FC Barcelona ended up winning 2-1, the game went as most expected. Open, expansive football with both teams willing to take risks and go for offensive progressions, it was a football match that even neutrals would have enjoyed.
The initial 45 minutes saw both Betis and Barcelona take their own digs at each other from period to period. However, one side clearly should have taken a lead earlier on. Barcelona’s progressive attempts saw them generate a rather meek xG of 0.24 in the first half, yet this figure does not even do any justice to the quality of chances the Blaugranas ended up wasting.
From Pedri’s point-blank effort that was saved, Raphinha’s offside goal, and even Gavi’s rather poor header that should have thwarted Rui Silva’s goal much more, Barcelona were generating quality chances that deserved a much better end product than what ended up being delivered.
On the defensive end, despite Real Betis statistically generating a slightly better xG of 0.26, their chances were more or less not as thwarting as those that Barcelona ended up generating. Barcelona’s defensive line was rock solid and nullified almost any and every attempt at their goal, and Ter Stegen was up to his consistent best as he so often has been this season and snuffed out any other glaring chances.
Less than adequate finishing ended up leaving the Catalans entering the half-time break with none the wiser, as the score remained tied at 0-0 with the deadlock still yet to be broken.
The Catalans arrived into the second half with a much stronger resolve and much more intent to harm Real Betis. Apparent since the very start, their efforts would not be in vain, as 20 minutes into the second half the Catalans would open the scoring through a Raphinha goal.
Courtesy of Frenkie De Jong’s fast thinking, a quick free kick saw Balde dispatched promptly on the left-hand flank as he drove a pass across Beti’s backline to a pouncing Raphinha, who just had to tap away the ball to break the deadlock right there and then in the 60th minute.
Throughout the second 45 minutes, Barcelona consistently made Real Betis look like a rather unexceptional team, something the team from Seville are definitely not. Quick passes, aggressive retakes, and regains of possession, as well as a much more direct approach to the latter’s goal, Barcelona were cruising.
Not long after, the team from Catalonia would increase their lead to 2, courtesy of a goal by talisman Robert Lewandowski. The number 9, fresh off the back of a 3-game suspension, was quick to pounce on a header by Ronald Araujo following a corner to finish past Rui Silva and take his league goals tally to an impressive 14 goals in 16 La Liga appearances.
Real Betis did end up getting a goal back later on near the end of the game thanks to an unfortunate mistake by Barcelona defender Jules Kounde. This led to a final few minutes where Betis were constantly looking to go all in for an equalizer late on in the game, but Barcelona’s combined efforts were enough to see the game through.
Winning 2-1, this result brings huge relief to Xavi and culers around the world, as overcoming this formidable Real Betis side was key to Barcelona’s objective of winning La Liga this season.
This hard-fought victory sees Barcelona increase their lead at the top of the La Liga Santander table for 8 points momentarily with Real Madrid yet to play their game in hand.
With half the games for the league season now played, Barcelona have ended up accumulating 50 total points out of a possible 57 from the 19 games played thus far, an impressive tally to say the least. The Catalan outfit will next face Sevilla at the Spotify Camp Nou next in their La Liga calendar.