Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong were the game changers while Clement Lenglet went from hero to zero as Barcelona came from behind to beat Real Betis 3-2.
Barcelona were off to the worst possible start as Sergio Canales scored a sixth-minute penalty after Clement Lenglet had handled the ball inside the box. Barcelona, however, hit back shortly after through Frenkie de Jong, who latched on to Lionel Messi’s brilliant pass. Midway through the first half, Real Betis were ahead again as Nabil Fekir scored from the edge of the box.
At the stroke of half-time, though, Barcelona were level for a second time, as Sergio Busquets netted from close range. The comeback was complete with 18 minutes left as Lenglet headed in from Messi’s free-kick, with the Barcelona captain completing a hat-trick of assists.
There was time for some late drama as Fekir and Lenglet were sent off in a three-minute span to reduce both teams to ten men, but Barcelona held on for the narrow win. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Quique Setien’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10
The Barcelona no. 1 was not called into action all that often on Sunday and only made one save all game. The German could have done nothing to deny Sergio Canales from the spot after guessing the wrong way, but a better effort could have perhaps denied Nabil Fekir. Composed with the ball at his feet.
Nelson Semedo: 6/10
Another decent showing by the in-form Semedo, who defended well for the most part and showed good understanding when linking up with Sergi Roberto down the right flank. However, he could have perhaps, been positioned better to stop Fekir from scoring, although Arturo Vidal and Samuel Umtiti were more to blame than anyone for the goal.
Clement Lenglet: 5/10
Quite an eventful evening for Lenglet, who had a nightmarish start to the game as he handled the ball to award Real Betis a penalty, which resulted in the first goal. He defended diligently after that and made up for the initial error with the winner. However, Lenglet’s night turned sour again when he was sent off for a second bookable offence with 11 minutes left.
Samuel Umtiti: 5/10
A horrible evening for Umtiti, who appeared too casual while defending for the second Real Betis goal, backing off a bit too much when he could have closed down Fekir. Still seems to be lacking in pace, struggling to get back to his pre-injury levels.
Junior Firpo: 5/10
Given a chance against his former team, Firpo struggled to make an impact. The ex-Real Betis star did not have the best of times against Emerson on his flank and he did not make much of an impact going forward either. Rightly replaced before the hour mark. Still has a long way to go.
Frenkie de Jong: 9/10
A top class showing by de Jong, who started the game strongly. A magnificent ghosting run was picked out by Lionel Messi, but he still had quite a bit of work to do after collecting the ball. After netting the first equaliser, de Jong settled in and ran rings around the Real Betis midfield. One of his best showings in Barcelona colours so far.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
A mixed bag of a showing by Busquets, although he too was instrumental in the win. The veteran midfielder was overrun a few times in the middle of the park, but he stuck to his guns and improved as the game wore on. A decent effort was also rewarded with Barcelona’s second equaliser on the night.
Arturo Vidal: 5/10
Back into the starting lineup after staving off injury, Vidal did not look quite up to the pace of the game. Lost the ball that led to Fekir’s goal and was booked for a horrible challenge on the French international. Looked good when he asserted himself, but those moments came few and far between. Hardly surprising that he was the first player to be taken off.
Sergi Roberto: 5/10
Preferred once again in the final third, Roberto endured a dip in his levels on Sunday. The Spaniard cannot be faulted for a lack of effort, but his end product on the night was rather horrible. Also lost possession a number of times.
Lionel Messi: 9/10
Quite simply, the Barcelona captain ran the show. Messi provided the assist for each of the three goals that the visitors scored. The first was a delightful pass that split the Real Betis defence wide open. The other two came from looping and dangerous free-kicks. Could not score a goal himself, but Messi was still the architect of a fine comeback win.
Three Barcelona goals ✅
Three Messi assists ✅
Rinse and repeat. pic.twitter.com/H9NYPSS7dY
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 9, 2020
Antoine Griezmann: 6/10
Deployed out on the left flank, Griezmann did not look at his best, as was the case earlier in the season. The Frenchman could not manage to put the Real Betis defenders under a lot of pressure, although one pass to Messi stood out. Worked hard off the ball, however. Needs to be used more centrally, though.
Jordi Alba: 6.5/10
On for Firpo, Alba was a clear upgrade on the incumbent, giving Barcelona more assertiveness down the left flank.
Much like Alba, Arthur helped Barcelona assume control of the proceedings in a more efficient manner, providing them more incision through the middle.
Ivan Rakitic: N/A
A late introduction, Rakitic did not have a lot of time to make an impact.