LaLiga 2019-20, Barcelona 5-2 Real Betis: 5 Hits and Flops
Despite conceding early to Nabil Fekir after 15 minutes, a depleted Barcelona side recovered to defiantly emerge as emphatic 5-2 winners over Real Betis at the Nou Camp following their frustrating 1-0 away defeat by Athletic Bilbao on La Liga's opening night last Friday.
Nabil Fekir opened the scoring with a clever close-range finish, having been teed up by Loren Moron outside the area. It was the Frenchman's first goal for Betis, having completed an £18m switch from Lyon last month.
His compatriot and fellow World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann equalized on the stroke of half-time, latching onto a probing Sergi Roberto pass before flicking past Daniel Martin's fingertips. Griezmann, who himself sealed a big-money £108m summer move to join Barca last month, completed his brace with a curling strike into the far corner five minutes after the restart.
Carles Pérez doubled their lead six minutes later with a composed finish, stroking home after good work from Nelson Semedo before the wheels came off for the Betis' backline. Poor defensive work saw Jordi Alba through with only the keeper to beat after Sergio Busquets' defense-splitting pass and the flying fullback made no mistake. 4-1 up, they were not done there. Griezmann turned creator to tee up substitute Arturo Vidal, who tucked away a first-time finish to devastating effect from a tight angle.
For their efforts, the scoreline was harsh on the visitors. They were simply blown away by a 15-minute blitz after half-time but Moron - who assisted Fekir to break the deadlock - silenced the Nou Camp with a deadly finish of his own from distance.
It was merely a consolation but Barca showed significant improvement from their collective display last weekend while managing to survive a potentially damaging situation after conceding early at home. With all of that in mind, here's a look at five hits and flops from Barcelona's first victory of the new campaign:
#5 Flop: Daniel Martin
The Spain under-21 international joined Betis on a five-year deal from Sporting Gijon for a reported £4.5m last month but will certainly be hoping to improve in the coming weeks.
Having conceded twice on his La Liga debut against Real Valladolid, he started again at the Nou Camp. Joel Robles, earmarked as their first-choice 'keeper, is serving a three-match suspension after being sent off in the aforementioned defeat so this presented the 21-year-old with a golden opportunity to cement his credentials as their starting goalkeeper going forward.
Instead, he largely struggled and will have been disappointed to concede five goals against an injury-ridden Barca side without Lionel Messi (calf), Luis Suarez (ankle) and Ousmane Dembele (hamstring). Barca registered 20 shots and had seven on target over the 90 minutes, though Martin didn't have much to do in the first-half - barring Griezmann's goal - and should have reacted quicker to stop a number of their goals.
Antoine's first was prodded home from close-range and would have traveled at significant pace but despite getting fingertips to the strike, he'll know he needed to do better there. That overriding feeling of frustration continued in a second-half where Barca peppered the Betis backline with their chance creation, something which was only going to end one way.
His second goal of the night was a tidy finish, as was Vidal's for their fifth and final goal of the evening. However, Carles Perez's effort was stroked home a little too nonchalantly while the same can be said for Jordi Alba's goal minutes later to make it 4-1 at the time. In both instances, had he shuffled his feet and reacted quicker, he would have made important saves to somewhat stifle the hosts' attacking rhythm. Instead, Betis were comprehensively beaten and their last line of defense failed them when they needed him most on three key occasions.