Barcelona won a very important match away from home last night, as they managed to defeat Quique Setien's former team Real Betis in a high-scoring clash at the Benito Villamarin Stadium. The Catalan club remain, after this result, just three points away from leaders Real Madrid in the race for the La Liga title.
Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets and Clement Lenglet were the three players who got their name on the score-sheet for Barcelona, with Lionel Messi assisting all three of those goals. For Real Betis, Sergio Canales and Nabil Fekir were the two goalscorers.
The following article is going to analyse the three most important takeaways that we can deduce from the clash:
#3 Sergi Roberto and Ivan Rakitic not in good form at the moment
In Luis Suarez's absence, Setien had to improvise in the last couple of matches, and Sergi Roberto was the coach's option for Barcelona's attacking issues. The Spanish footballer did not have a very good outing against Real Betis last night, as he was reckless with his challenges in the first half and was not a threat going forward. Besides, his decisions on the pitch were rather questionable as Barcelona rarely looked threatening when he had the ball.
While Roberto can be an important asset for Barcelona's right-back position, it is quite clear that he is not suited to play the offensive role in which Setien deployed him in the last two matches.
Ivan Rakitic was introduced on the pitch in the last minutes of the match, but even in that short amount of time, he showed that he is out of form at the moment. His passes were weak, his decision-making was rather poor, and he looked too slow. In Setien's playing style, it is quite hard to find a place for the Croatian player in the Barcelona team in the long-term.
#2 Nabil Fekir's impressive performance
Before he got sent off in the 76th minute, Nabil Fekir played one of his best matches for Real Betis since joining the Spanish club last summer. The Frenchman scored one goal for his team, taking advantage of Arturo Vidal's mistake, and also won a penalty, from which Betis opened the scoring in the match.
Fekir's talents and techniques were on full display, as he was a constant threat to Barcelona's defence until he received his marching orders. Barcelona players found it hard to keep up with the former Lyon star as he forced two yellow cards for the Catalan club with his dangerous runs.
The only negative part of his performance from last night can be linked to his red card. Fekir's unprofessional behaviour led to him being sent off in a very important moment of the game as Barcelona were playing their best football of the match then.
#1 Barcelona are trying to play entertaining football again
One of the biggest complaints about Ernesto Valverde's Barcelona was that the team were not playing exciting and entertaining football that the Catalan giants were known for. Under Setien, Barcelona were extremely fun to watch last night, and the game didn't really have any boring stretches of play.
Barcelona played with a lot of intensity at both ends of the pitch and attacked Real Betis throughout the match, something which helped them to come back from behind twice. Whether we talk about Lenglet's great performance or Messi's hat-trick of assists, Barcelona played well, despite conceding twice.
Under Setien, Barcelona are trying to play an exciting and entertaining style of football once again and it is going to be interesting to see how far they will be able to go in the Champions League this season if the manager is able to fix their mentality problems as well.
Published 10 Feb 2020, 18:14 IST