Antoine Griezmann and Carles Perez were the key contributors as Barcelona came from a goal down to beat Real Betis 5-2 at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Missing three key attackers, Barcelona’s job on Sunday was already going to be a tough one. And, it got a whole lot more challenging just 15 minutes into the game, when Nabil Fekir handed Real Betis the lead after being played through on goal by Loren Moron.
But, bar the deadlock-breaking moment, Barcelona had looked by far the more threatening side and they duly hit back four minutes from half-time. And, it was star summer arrival Antoine Griezmann who restored parity, latching on to Sergi Roberto’s brilliant past to score his maiden goal for the La Liga champions.
Griezmann then struck five minutes post the break to double his and Barcelona’s tally, with Roberto being the provider once again. But, this goal was more down to Griezmann’s brilliance more than anything, with the Frenchman curling the ball past a desperately stretching Dani Martin.
Within no time, the lead was doubled by Barcelona, with Carles Perez, who was making his full debut for the club, scoring with a fiercely driven left-footed shot. And, at the hour mark, what was effectively the winner was netted by Jordi Alba, who was put through on goal by Sergio Busquets.
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Barcelona were not done yet, though, with Arturo Vidal finding the back of the net after some fine work by Perez and Griezmann. But, Real Betis ended up scoring the final goal of the game, with Moron scoring from a thumping shot from distance that beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen all ends up.
At the end of a goal-fest, Barcelona had grabbed their first points of the season, steamrolling Real Betis in the second half. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ernesto Valverde’s men, who finally got their season rolling on Sunday.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10
A frustrating game for ter Stegen, who did not have a lot of glove work to do and was beaten twice on the night. But, he could not have done much to prevent either goal, with both Nabil Fekir and Loren Moron shooting precisely to beat the Barcelona stopper. Distribution was a bit awry at times, though.
Nelson Semedo: 7/10
After a horrible performance last weekend, Semedo needed to step up to make the right-back slot his own. While this was not an exactly inspiring display, the Portuguese defender did the job and stuck to his task diligently. Also provided the assist for Carles Perez’s goal. A step in the right direction.
Gerard Pique: 6/10
A momentous evening for Pique, who was turning out for Barcelona for the 500th time. The veteran defender though, started a bit awkwardly and should have done better to stop Fekir from going through on goal. But, after Real Betis grabbed the lead, he found his feet and contained Moron quite well.
Clement Lenglet: 6/10
Another one at fault for Fekir’s goal, Lenglet was caught out of position, like Pique, with a desperate late charge from Jordi Alba not enough to cover for his mistake. But, alongside his partner, Lenglet took it in his stride and shut shop on the Real Betis attack from thereon out.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
Up against Cristian Tello on his side, Alba did not have much defensive work to do. As a result, he had the freedom to bomb forward and do what he does best. Going down the left flank, the Spanish international linked up well with Rafinha and even set up a couple of chances for the Brazilian. Capped off a fine performance with the winner. Much improved from his recent performances.
Sergi Roberto: 8/10
Last week’s showing was nothing short of abysmal, leading many to question if Roberto can be fit to play in midfield. With his display on Sunday, the 27-year-old hit back at his naysayers. Provided the assist for both of Antoine Griezmann’s goals, with the first in particular, being a thing of beauty. Just the kind of performance Roberto needed in his bid to nail down a midfield spot.
Sergio Busquets: 6/10
A mixed bag of a game for Barcelona’s residential holding midfielder. Busquets gave the ball away before Real Betis broke the deadlock and looked a bit tentative at times in the middle of the park. But, the cultured midfielder made amends an hour into the game, opening up the opposition to put Alba through on goal for the winner. Picked up a shin injury, which will be a concern for Valverde.
Frenkie de Jong: 7/10
After a nervy start to his Barcelona career, de Jong was much more assured against Real Betis. The Dutchman showed his ability to stretch the midfield, hugging the left touchline quite regularly to open up pockets of space. Understandably still finding his feet and should only improve from here.
Carles Perez: 8/10
With Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele out injured, Perez got the opportunity to make his full debut for Barcelona. And, despite making his first start for the club at a thunderous Camp Nou, the sense of occasion did not get to the 21-year-old, who played with great confidence and self belief.
Perez never shied from taking on the Real Betis defenders and linked up well with Griezmann and Roberto. Scored his first Barcelona goal with a fine left-footed finish and played a key role in the build-up to Arturo Vidal’s goal. With Philippe Coutinho on-loan at Bayern Munich, Perez might be set for a breakthrough season at Camp Nou.
Antoine Griezmann: 9/10
The absence of the aforementioned star trio also meant that Griezmann had all the responsibility on his shoulders, despite the game serving as his home debut for Barcelona. However, the added responsibility evidently got the best out of him. Right from the start, the Frenchman looked up to the task at hand, with a spectacular move early on proving that he was in the mood.
Stretched superbly to open his account for the La Liga champions before scoring a wonderful long-range curler. His contribution to the win was not done yet, with Griezmann providing the assist to Vidal as well. Added glitter to his night by taking a leaf out of LeBron James’s book. As complete a performance as one can expect from their home debut.
Another player who is benefiting from injuries to teammates. As was the case last week, Rafinha was lively in his performance, but could not produce the finishing touches to grab a well deserved goal, although he had only himself to blame for it. Nevertheless, this was another positive display by the Brazilian, complete with fine link-up and neat touches.
Arturo Vidal: 7/10
With Busquets sustaining an injury, Vidal was sent on to see the game out and given a beautiful ovation by the Camp Nou faithfuls. But, before doing that, the Chilean grabbed a goal for himself, finding the top right corner with a powerful shot.
Ansu Fati: N/A
The game was already in the bag, meaning Valverde could send 16-year-old Ansu Fati to make his Barcelona debut. The prodigious winger might still be in his teens, but in his sprightly cameo, he played like a player who already had years of experience under his belt, showing exactly why the La Liga champions fought hard to keep hold of him.
Junior Firpo: N/A
On for the last few minutes, Junior Firpo made his Barcelona bow against his former side.