Barcelona were beaten at Camp Nou for the first time in over two years as Real Betis outclassed Ernesto Valverde’s men 4-3 on Sunday.
Barcelona came close with an early chance when Lionel Messi missed a close-range chance. But, Real Betis stuck to their guns and played their natural game, which eventually paid dividends as they created a number of chances before Junior Firpo opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a right-footed strike.
Barcelona came close 15 minutes later through Clement Lenglet, but Los Verdiblancos doubled their lead moments later, with Joaquin finding the back of the net after the hosts had been sliced open. In the second half, however, the Catalans took control of the proceedings, although the first goal still remained elusive.
They finally had a glimmer of hope when Cristian Tello fouled Jordi Alba inside the Betis box, with Lionel Messi converting the penalty. But, the Beticos established a two-goal lead once again through Giovani Lo Celso, whose powerful shot was parried into his own net by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 11, 2018
As the final ten minutes approached, Arturo Vidal pulled a goal back for Barcelona, but Ivan Rakitic was dismissed a couple of minutes later. Real Betis benefited from the numerical advantage as Sergio Canales restored the visitors’ two-goal cushion.
Messi made it 4-3 through a close-range effort, but it was too little too late as Real Betis notched up their first league win at Camp Nou in over 20 years. Barcelona though, remain at the top of the La Liga table, although their lead has been cut down to 1 point. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 4/10
Left wrong footed when Junior Firpo opened the scoring for Real Betis, although he could have done better to stop the effort. Thereafter, ter Stegen did make a made a few crucial saves to keep Barcelona in the game.
But, his final notable contribution on the night was a weak stop that ended with the ball ending in the back of the net. One of the rare failures from the German, although that does appeal to reason if he was fully fit, considering he was dropped from the German squad due to a minor injury.
Sergi Roberto: 5/10
Roberto has been Mr. Consistent for Barcelona this season. But, Sunday’s outing was arguably his worst of the season as he was suspect at the back time and again. At fault for Betis’ first goal, the Spaniard was beaten easily when one-on-one against Junior Firpo. Improved after that but never quite looked convincing.
Gerard Pique: 5/10
Pique was one of the better defenders for Barcelona. But, the fact that he failed to organise the backline contributed to the hosts’ suspect nature at the back. Got forward in the last half an hour of the game, which only made Valverde’s men more vulnerable in defence.
Clement Lenglet: 5.5/10
Much like Pique, Lenglet had his fair share of good and bad moments on Sunday. The Frenchman dealt with the threat of Loren Moron quite well, but often found himself under pressure whenever Real Betis outnumbered Barcelona. Came the closest to scoring for his side in the first half but was brilliantly denied by Pau Lopez.
Jordi Alba: 6/10
With Real Betis taking the game to the hosts, Alba was pegged back more than he would have liked in the first half. But, the Spanish international bombarded forward to good effect post the break, and earned the penalty for his side’s first. Even defended well when Pique got forward towards the end of the game, using his pace smartly, whenever he could.
Ivan Rakitic: 4/10
Rakitic looked up against it from the get-go, finding it hard to deal with the pace of the game. As the minutes wore on, it became plainly clear that the Croat needed to be taken off, especially after accruing a booking in the first half. To many’s surprise, he wasn’t and Valverde’s decision backfired as Rakitic was sent off for a second bookable offence when Betis unleashed their umpteenth counter-attack.
Sergio Busquets: 4/10
By far the worst performance of the season from Busquets. Overrun in midfield quite easily, the veteran midfielder failed to provide the required cover to the backline, which was clear when Betis scored their second when their players were afforded acres of space around the box. Rightly taken off for Alena.
Another Barcelona stalwart who struggled on Sunday. Like the rest of his companions in the midfield, Arthur did not fulfil his defensive duties while failing to affect the proceedings on the other end. Replaced by Vidal at half-time, with the Chilean creating much more impact for the hosts.
Lionel Messi: 8.5/10
📊 | #BarçaBetis | Messi’s stats against Betis:
78 % pass accuracy
6 key passes
1 big chance created
4 long balls completed
10 duels won
2 fouls won
7 dribbles completed
Great performance overshadowed by a horrible team performance. pic.twitter.com/pfprZlvREa
— BarcaTimes (@BarcaTimes) November 11, 2018
Returning to the side after a three-week layoff, Messi was understandably a little slow off the blocks. But, he soon found his delightful self, leaving the Real Betis defence in sixes and sevens at times. Involved in all three goals, two of which he scored. Was heavily involved in Vidal’s goal as well, but he just wasn’t supported enough by his teammates.
Luis Suarez: 5/10
Suarez had been in blistering form in the absence of Messi, and conventional wisdom would have suggested that he would continue to do well upon the return of the Argentine. While he did work hard on and off the ball in typical fashion, the end product was nowhere to be seen, which ultimately affected the side and his output. Back to the drawing board.
Malcom had the perfect opportunity to cement his place in the starting lineup in the absence of Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele. But, playing out of position on the left flank did not really suit him. The Brazilian was initially full of energy and created a chance for Messi.
However, he seemed a tad bit clueless as the game wore on. Will be interesting to see how he is integrated with Messi in the side.
Arturo Vidal: 7.5/10
Apart from Messi, Vidal was the real shining light on a disastrous day for Barcelona. The Chilean looked to drive his side forward at every given opportunity, which ultimately helped him score his second goal in Barcelona colours. Even set up Messi’s second, and might have played himself into a spot in the starting lineup.
Munir El Haddadi: 6/10
On for the ineffective Malcom, Munir added the sense of urgency which Barcelona were lacking in the first half. Helped set up Vidal’s goal as well in what was a positive display.
Carles Alena: 6/10
Replaced Busquets in the second half and helped Barcelona regain some control in the match. Came close with a long range effort as well. A promising performance but one that could no see him make a major impact in the game.