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Copa Del Rey: Barcelona Suffer Defeat In Sevilla, Lose To Real Betis 3 – 1, Still Advance to Semifinal

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Well, this wasn't fun. Not even a little bit.

After comfortably winning the first leg by the score of 5 - 0, Pep Guardiola decided to send out the substitutes with some regular starters, including Messi, Xavi and Piqué. Despite the big loss, Betis was not intimidated and they weren't going to give up and they started exactly the way they wanted. In the 2nd minute, a free kick was taken from the right side, the ball was sent to the near post where Jorge Molina redirected the ball just in front of Pinto.

The early goal got Betis thinking about a miracle and they scored again five minutes later. It was Molina again, this time he was sent in all alone (after Milito forgot he was supposed to cover him) and he calmly put the ball into the back of the net. The pace of the game dropped after the quickfire double and it looked like the Barcelona players remembered they have a game to play. But that wasn't actually true; although Barca did take control of possession, the hosts still had more (and better) scoring chances and Barcelona fans have Gerard Piqué to thank for making some very good defensive plays.

Things started to look a bit better when Messi went on one of his "you won't stop me" runs and put the ball between the legs of Casto (38'). But just before the halftime Gabi Milito struck again and "cleared" the ball straight to Arzu who scored with his back to the net. I didn't mention it before but the Argentine defender also made the foul that resulted in the free kick that led to the first goal.

The second half was much less exciting. Blaugrana still controlled possession, but not even close to the numbers people are used to seeing from them and Betis relied on counter attacks. Isidoro handled the ball in his own area in the 52nd minute and handed Barcelona a penalty kick. Messi stepped up to take it and just as he was about to take the shot he slipped and the ball sailed over the crossbar. There is one more chance worthy of mentioning; in the 66th minute, after another defensive breakdown in front of Pinto, Nacho struck the ball against the post.

There weren't many bright spots tonight in Barcelona's play, but I was impressed with Barca's newest member Ibrahim Afellay. He took care of the ball, when running and dribbling, and he has a good shot from outside of the penalty area. He had two of them and if either of them went a couple of feet more to the left or the right, Casto would be in real trouble. Ibrahim was trying make plays throughout the game, well until he was substituted, but he was often left without support.

Barcelona will face Almería in the semifinals. The first leg will be played on January 26 and the second one on February 2.

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