Barcelona haven't had the best of starts to their 2020-21 La Liga campaign. The Catalan club were without a win in their previous four league fixtures as they welcomed a dangerous Real Betis side to the Camp Nou for their seventh round of fixtures.
Ronald Koeman's move to leave a tired Lionel Messi on the bench paid off at the start as Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann flourished in their preferred positions; the former gave Blaugrana the early lead with a brilliant strike which may have well announced his return to top form.
But Barcelona struggled to build on their lead as Griezmann's goal-scoring woes continued and eventually Los Verdiblancos equalized capitalizing on defensive lapses from the hosts.
As you would expect, the game changed as soon as Messi came on in the second half replacing Ansu Fati. Barcelona still conceded once more to ten-men Betis, but scored four on the other end to cap off the victory in style.
The win should come as a huge relief for Barca's newly appointed Dutch manager and the side now sit eight in the La Liga table, ready to relaunch their title hopes despite early points deficit to both Madrid rivals and table-toppers Real Sociedad.
#1 Dembele brilliance gives Barcelona the early lead
Ousmane Dembele has had a tough three years since completing his dream move to Barcelona. The French international's career has largely stagnated due to recurring injuries, forcing him to spend more time on the sidelines than on the field.
But when fit, the talented winger has never failed to show flashes of excellence that once made him one of the hottest properties in the world. On Saturday, Dembele did just that to give his side the lead against Betis.
Playing on his preferred right side, Dembele showed the two-footed brilliance that he has come to be known for. After receiving the ball from teammate Antoine Griezmann on his right foot, the 23 year-old forward quickly cut in on his left and launched a rocket straight into the back of the net.
The three Betis defenders lined up to block Dembele's shot, could only watch the spectacle unfold as the ball flew past them and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to give Barca the lead.
The cutback, followed by the power and the accuracy of the shot was once again a reminder of what the Frenchman can do if given an extensive run in the starting line-up, without injuries halting his progress.
#2 Barcelona's defensive frailties exposed again, despite big win
Though creating chances by the dozen up front in the first half, Barcelona's defensive weakness under Ronald Koeman once again kept getting exposed throughout the match as the Catalan side made numerous defensive lapses, keeping the Andalusian outfit in the game.
Midfielder William Carvalho and left-back Alex Moreno both had golden opportunities to score even before Barcelona took the lead. But Betis had to wait till late in the first half, as the equalizer came when two La Masia graduates Cristian Tello and Antonio Sanabria combined, aided by Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet failing to block Tello's cross.
The former Barcelona winger's ball in was deflected by Sergi Roberto's effort to block, wrong-footing Gerard Pique, as Sanabria was the first to get on its end after Lenglet failed to react quickly to the deflection.
The Andalusians' second goal came from a similar Lenglet mistake, as the French center-back failed to track Alex Moreno's run and block his cross. Loren Moron seized the opportunity to temporarily keep Betis in the game before another Messi goal ensured there was no comeback for Manuel Pellegrini's side.