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After weeks of mediocrity, Barcelona were determined to put on a show for their supporters across the globe on Saturday night. Real Betis, who had played two games more than the Blaugrana, started the match with more points on the board, forcing the hosts to play catch up.
And in the end, they walked away with their heads held high, with all three points.
Barcelona opened the scoring through Ousmane Dembele just past the 20th-minute mark but fell to an Antonio Sanabria equaliser during first-half injury-time.
After the break, Antoine Griezmann restored Barcelona’s one-goal cushion before Lionel Messi extended the lead from the spot. Loren Moron pulled one back for Betis, again, but Messi and Pedri added two more for Barcelona to take the game away from the visitors.
Here are the top three takeaways from Barcelona’s much-needed win over Real Betis.
#3 Ansu Fati’s unfortunate injury
Amid the doom and gloom of Barcelona’s campaign, Ansu Fati has emerged as the beacon of home, with the 18-year-old stringing one match-winning performance after the other.
The Spaniard has made the Barcelona left-wing his own and very rarely fails to make himself known. On Saturday, he took the centre-stage and looked an obvious threat until Aissa Mandi scythed him down inside the penalty box after 30 minutes of play.
He kept on playing until the half time whistle but couldn’t make a second-half appearance.
Barcelona have confirmed that the player has an internal meniscus tear in his left knee. The club haven’t announced a return date yet, but experts believe the player could remain sidelined for up to 10 games.
We hope he defies the odds and bounces back sooner than anticipated.
#2 Antoine Griezmann’s inconsistent showing
When Barcelona went all out for Antoine Griezmann in the summer of 2019, they were expecting the World Cup winner to set the stage alight.
The Blaugrana were expecting the best of Griezmann — ruthless and creative — when they broke the bank. Instead, they seem to have acquired the shell of one of Atletico Madrid’s best attackers.
After being almost invisible this season, Griezmann needed to capitalise on the chance to shine against Betis. With Lionel Messi on the bench, Barcelona could do with the expertise of a famed marksman. Sadly, Griezmann once again failed to win the complete trust of the club.
He missed three great chances to give Barcelona the lead in the opening exchanges. However, he did try to make amends by setting up Ousmane Dembele’s opener on the 22nd minute. Then, just past the half-hour mark, he failed to beat the Betis stopper from the spot.
After Messi’s introduction, Griezmann got another opportunity to get on the scoresheet. Thankfully, this time, he didn’t miss his mark from close range. A goal and an assist cannot be considered a bad day at the office, for sure, but Barcelona definitely expect a lot better from their striker.
#1 Lionel Messi shines as a substitute
Ronald Koeman decided to keep Lionel Messi on the bench against Real Betis and only called him off as a response to Ansu Fati’s injury. The Argentine, who has come under fire for not being at his best, wasted no time to get into the groove and set up Antoine Griezmann’s goal by taking three players out of play.
Then, just past the hour mark, Messi doubled Barcelona’s advantage from the spot, which practically took the wind out of Betis’ sails.
He continued to put 10-men Betis under pressure through his complex touches and precise movement, creating a plethora of chances. With around 10 minutes left to play, Messi was sent through on goal by an intricate Sergi Roberto flick.
The number 10, blasted the ball home with confidence to score his first open-play goal of the season — capping off an impressive second-half substitute stint.