After a narrow 1-0 victory over Girona over the weekend, Barcelona travels to Sevilla to re-play a postponed fixture against Real Betis. The two have met in a fierce fight in the recent past when a nervy shootout decided in favor of the Catalans, but now, Betis, thirsty for revenge, will surely pose an even tougher challenge.
Barca News Network brings you three talking points ahead of the clash against Real Betis.
1. Learning from the past
It wasn’t long ago that these two met, and their match ended in an open, dramatic affair. Despite being in control for the majority of the 120 minutes, Barcelona couldn’t close off the game, and although leading twice during the match, Betis managed to equalize both times, pushing the game first to extra time, then to a penalty shootout.
As we could notice multiple times in the recent past, after taking the lead, Barcelona are comfortable with a marginal edge and their proactive intents drop. Against the likes of Getafe and Girona, it proved to be enough to clinch a narrow win, but against a massive Betis side, who managed to neutralize this advantage twice in a game, this approach doesn’t seem like the winning one.
It’s clear as day where we have to improve, sustaining intensity and control all over the 90 minutes. Maybe, the answer lies somewhere around the system, where a possible yet now rather established change might be indicated, especially taking into account our below-mentioned points. Thus, we might get to see the WM system in action again, with 4 midfielders to assure greater control over the play.
2. Without Dembélé
Despite the fact that it wasn’t a good match from the Blaugrana at all, without a doubt, the biggest concern of the Girona game is the loss of Ousmane Dembélé. In the Frenchman, Barcelona lost their most threatening player, one who can create something out of thin air, and thus, decide in difficult moments in favor of the Catalans.
In his current form, no one is near the level he performs at in his role, but the one who stylistically resembles best his profile is Raphinha. The absence of his number-one post-rival opens up a great opportunity for the Brazilian, a golden chance to finally step up and show his worth, especially in such a lackluster form he is in right now.
3. Lewandowski dependecia
Thankfully, while one key cog fell out of the line, another returned to balance the casualties. Robert Lewandowski, after serving his 3-match suspension against Atlético Madrid, Getafe, and Girona, can finally return to league action, which will be indubitably a huge boost for Xavi’s apprentices.
Value is best recognized when lacking. This perfectly applies to Lewandowski’s case as his absence was truly palpable in those games. Despite the fact that he started off the post-Qatar period quite rustily, his impact – or better said, the absence of his impact – clearly manifested, and his replacements failed to match his contribution to the Catalans’ play.
In his absence, the obvious choice to start in the striking position would be either of Ansu Fati or Ferrán Torres. Furthermore, Torres’s little wrestling duel with Savić against Atlético earned him a deserved red card and a further 2-match suspension. Though neither of them are natural strikers, and their late form leaves much to be desired anyway, leaving all the responsibility to the returning Polish marksman to lead the line.