Barcelona fell to a disappointing 1-0 loss to Real Betis at the Camp Nou on Saturday (December 4). It marked new boss Xavi Hernandez's first defeat since taking over at the club. It has left Blaugrana languishing in seventh place in La Liga.
The Catalans began the game well, displaying the high energy style Xavi has attempted to deploy since returning to his boyhood club. The home side dominated possession in the opening period but struggled to break down a resolute Real Betis defense.
They came close when Jordi Alba whipped a dangerous a cross into the box. Philippe Coutinho, a surprise starter on the night, met the ball but his jab towards the near post was saved relatively comfortably by Betis custodian Rui Silva.
The lack of a cutting edge in attack continued in the second half and eventually cost Barcelona when they were caught flat-footed on the counter attack. An excellent move saw Betis find their way through to goal. Sergio Canales found Christian Tello, who laid the ball for Juanmi to sweep in a first-time finish.
The Catalans failed to respond to the goal and ended up falling to a 1-0 defeat in front of their home crowd. Here are some of the best Twitter reactions from the game:
Barcelona's title challenge is quickly withering away
Defeat to Real Betis left Barcelona 13 points adrift of league leaders Real Madrid, who won 2-0 away to Real Sociedad. With just 23 points from 15 matches, the Catalans already seem to be out of this season's title race.
They also lost exciting midfielder Pablo Gavi to what looked like a head injury in the first half. Gavi clashed with the Balompie defense and injured his head. He tried to carry on but eventually fell to the turf off-balance in worrying fashion.
The youngster was taken to hospital for medical tests. Thankfully, the club revealed after the game that Gavi was allowed to return home as the issue wasn't too serious.
Xavi's side will take on Bayern Munich in their next game in the UEFA Champions League. Failure to win at the Allianz Arena could see Blaugrana get demoted to the UEFA Europa League.