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Another Manita: Lionel Messi-led Barcelona Obliterate Betis to Secure Semi-Final Spot

Contrary to what might have been expected, all six players that were included in the FIFPro Ideal XI started the match today. Pep Guardiola wanted the Camp Nou to see their heroes in action. Out of the usual starters, only Valdés and Abidal were left out (Pinto and Maxwell started).

Betis fought well but they were no match to Barcelona. Lionel Messi showed why he's the best player in the world and scored a hat trick - the first three goals. His first goal, in the final minute of the first half, was vital in breaking Betis's spirit, and his second and third goals put a definite end to their resistance. Pedro and Keita (who came into the match for David Villa) scored the remaining two goals. Iniesta and Xavi showed why they are the second and their best players in the world and commanded the field with their usual class. Iniesta had two assists (one of them absolutely brilliant to Keita) and Xavi had one.

With the result already settled, Afellay was given a chance to play another 10 minutes. In the second leg, he'll certainly start and finally be given a chance to fully showcase his quality. After today's result, the second leg will be a mere formality: there's nothing to stop Barcelona from reaching the semifinals.

Before that, though, there's a league match against Malaga on Sunday, where records will be at stake.

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