- Copy link
FC Barcelona have moved even closer still to the league title after they saw off Real Betis with relative comfort on Saturday at Spotify Camp Nou.
Real Madrid had already beaten Almería earlier in the day, so there was no hope of extending their lead in La Liga. But it remains at 11 points and with just six more games to play. The Catalans need to win half of those to clinch the title mathematically.
The exceptional crowd of 88,530 was also treated to the 24th clean sheet of the league season, which sets a brand new club record.
Three of the four goals came in a first half in which Barça were simply too good for the Andalusians, especially after the latter had been reduced to ten men.
The game itself was as good as over, but there was plenty of emotion still in store, with a rousing farewell for an opposing player, a very welcome returnee and the entry of the youngest Barça debutant of all time.
It hadn’t rained on the Catalan capital for weeks, and that was becoming an extremely serious problem for the city's water supply, so the fact the game was played under a downpour was very welcome indeed.
With just two in the last four games, it hasn’t exactly been raining goals at Barça of late either, so it was also extremely refreshing to see all that change in a simply stellar first half.
Andreas Christensen marked his return from injury by opening the scoring. Having moved up for a corner, the Dane was ideally positioned for Raphinha to brilliantly pick him out on the head, and with a quarter of an hour gone, Barça were into a well-deserved lead.
The blaugrana cause was boosted when visiting player Edgar González, who had only been on as a substitute for 20 minutes, managed to get himself booked a second time and was thus eliminated from the equation.
With Betis in disarray, Robert Lewandowski was able to add to his tally of 19 goals. Later in the game, the woodwork denied the Polish striker’s clear chance to add a second and put a bit of distance between himself and Karim Benzema, who is staring over his shoulder in the Pichichi race after scoring three earlier in the day.
And although Raphinha’s lovely conversion of a Sergio Busquets assist was originally disallowed for offside, a long VAR review eventually decided his position had been fine.
Barça were in cruise mode. 3-0 up at half-time and with the opposition depleted to ten men, this game already looked more than won.
The rain finally subsided, and so did the Barça goals. In fact, three of the biggest cheers of the second half were reserved for three substitutions.
The first was a heart-warming ovation for one of the visiting team. Spotify Camp Nou took to its feet to honour Joaquin, one of the most popular and charismatic players to grace the Spanish game in recent years, and who has announced his retirement at the end of the season.
Sadly, a knee injury meant he had to withdraw mere moments after coming on, and with all their substitutions used up, Betis had to play the final ten minutes with nine men.
The second ovation was for a man making his long-awaited return following a three-month absence through injury. Ousmane Dembélé was back in action! And looking just a sharp and nimble as ever in his 20-or-so minutes on the pitch.
And the third ovation was for fifteen-year-old Lamine Yamal, who came on to became the youngest player ever to play for Barça in La Liga. And within moments of coming on, he very nearly became the youngest goalscorer too and also set up a beautiful chance for Dembélé. What an introduction!
In the meantime, Barça had extended their lead when a goalmouth scramble saw Guido Rodríguez’s toe guide the ball into his own net.
Four goals, another clean sheet, and still eleven points clear at the top of the table. Things were already looking more than good before this game and now they’re even better!
- Copy link