Real Betis Shock Barcelona
Real Betis edged out Barcelona in a seven goal thriller at the Camp Nou on Sunday. A tactical masterclass from Quique Setien and his Betis side earned them a deserved win. Reigning champions Barcelona looked set to extend their lead at the top of the La Liga table. Mainly because Leo Messi was back in the starting lineup after a near three-week spell on the sidelines. Samuel Umtiti was also back from a lengthy injury layoff and was available off the bench.
But little did the Spanish giants know what Betis had in store for them. Take a look at how Betis managed to outclass the champions.
Real Betis and Setien’s Tactical Masterclass
If one had to summarize in a single line what happened to Barça yesterday, that line would be- “Barcelona got a taste of their own medicine”. Initially the Catalans came storming out of the blocks. They threw attack after attack at Real Betis but the Andalusian club came out unscathed. Messi looked really dangerous, albeit a bit rusty which was to be expected. Malcom looked strong initially after getting his first start for Barça.
Betis looked dangerous on the counter however and the fears of conceding from a counter materialized in the 20th minute. William Carvalho played a great through ball to Junior Firpo who cut inside and finished at the near post. Betis had started the game with a 3-5-2 formation. This paid off massively when pushing forward. During the attack that lead to the opener, the Betis midfielders swarmed forward and left Barça’s midfield trio exposed. Numerical superiority in the middle of the pitch pegged back Barcelona’s defensive line and freed up a lot of options for Betis.
This tactic combined with the shakiness of Barça’s defense and midfield spelled out disaster for them. Suspect defending on the wings allowed Betis to exploit the space and cut the ball across to and fro. It was Joaquin who made it 2-0 in the 34th minute. Betis went into the halftime break with a comfortable lead.
What Went Wrong for Barcelona?
Barcelona were just unable to string together a constant spell of possession. Something that comes naturally to the players. In 1v1 situations, the defenders simply were not tight enough. Leo Messi eventually made it 2-1 in the 68th minute from the spot after Jordi Alba was brought down in the area. But the lead didn’t last long. Around 3 minutes later a rare howler from Marc-André ter Stegen put Betis 3-1 up. Giovanni Lo Celso’s shot hit the German keeper’s hands and it looped into the net. An uncharacteristic error from the young shot stopper.
Barça kept fighting however. Arturo Vidal, one of the night’s standout performers made it 3-2 in the 79th minute. But Barcelona’s night went from bad to worse as Ivan Rakitic was sent off shortly after. Betis were already outnumbering Barça in midfield and this complicated matters even more with nine minutes plus stoppage time to go. But the Blaugrana could not catch a break. Two minutes after the red card, Sergio Canales scored to make it 4-2 after some more terrible defending from Barcelona. In the three minutes of added time, a desperate Barcelona side pulled another goal back through Messi.
Ultimately, Betis managed to hang on and got all three points. They thoroughly deserved this win. The team was patient, disciplined, organized and hungry. They held on to the ball well. Also, they showed glimpses of lethal creativity which allowed them to score on more than one occasion. It was display of composure on the ball and most importantly sticking to the game plan. And thanks to this tremendous result they shot up three places to 12th on the table. All in all, a great game and a solid win for Setien and his players.
Photo credit to Donald Trump via Flickr