The home opener for Barcelona could not have started much worse with Nabil Fekir scoring early in the first half, but the hosts came storming back, with Antoine Griezmann as the main protagonists, scoring once in each half and adding an assist. Carles Perez, Jordi Alba and Arturo Vidal added goals midway through the second half to secure the first three points of the new season before Loren Moron put up the final score.
Barcelona had to send out another line-up without Lionel Messi in attack, but this time he was joined in the stands by Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez. As a result of all those injuries, the front three featured Griezmann, Carles Perez and Rafinha. Sergio Busquets returned to the starting XI, joined by Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto in midfield.
Barcelona started the match brightly, pinning Betis deep from the opening whistle, showing excellent ball movement along the way. However, scoring chances eluded them, even if at times there were opportunities to take the shot, but instead another (unnecessary) pass soon followed. It wasn’t until the 14th minute when the Catalans took the first shot, but Griezmann’s try lacked power to beat Dani Martín.
Betis were nowhere to be found and they saw very little of the ball, but in the 15th minute, in their first promising attack, took the lead. Busquets turned the ball over in midfield and moments later, Moron found Fekir, who was inexplicably left in plenty of space by Gerard Pique. Fekir wasted no time and fired a perfect shot into the side netting for the first goal at the Camp Nou this season.
The hosts immediately returned to the attack, but the equalizer wasn’t in the air, even though Barcelona were dominating pretty much every single meaningful statistic – except the all-important one of goals scored. Oftentimes Barcelona looked predictable in attack, and with every Betis player behind the ball, the visitors routinely stopped attacks without much fuss.
Just after the half hour mark, Fekir fired his second shot on goal, this one from a free kick, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen made the save. Moments later, Rafinha fell inside the area, after the Catalans finally outplayed the defense, but correctly no penalty was awarded. The Catalans created their best chance in the 38th minute after lovely link-up between the middle and the left wing, from where Jordi Alba found a wide open Rafinha in front of goal. The Brazilian fired on goal, but Sidnei was able to block the attempt that in all honesty should’ve been much better.
Barcelona were showing more life once again and the hosts were finally able to capitalize on their superiority in the 41st minute. The counter started with a quick pass from ter Stegen to Nelson Semedo who brought the ball forward to start a quick combo with Perez before Roberto excellently found Griezmann in the middle, who from a though spot was able to beat Martin and score his first Barcelona goal.
The turnaround was almost completed the very next minute, with Perez sending a perfect cross in front of goal to a wide open Rafinha, but with only the keeper to beat, Rafinha missed the ball completely. Rafinha had had a strong first half as he seemed to be always involved, but his finishing left much to be desired. Barcelona pushed forward right up until the halftime whistle, but the game remained tied going into the break.
Quickly after the restart, Barcelona created their first excellent look on goal, with the ball making its way from the left to the right side where Perez took aim, but the ball rolled over his leg and the chance went begging. But in the 50th minute, Barcelona took their first lead of the new season. Betis turned the ball over deep, right to Roberto who laid the ball over to Griezmann. The Frenchman fired a perfect left-footed curler to the far post, out of reach of Martin, and Barcelona were in front.
Now in the lead, Barcelona found more space in attack as Betis were forced to open up. Scoring chances became easier to create, while Betis appeared shell-shocked. Shortly after Griezmann’s second, Perez had a couple chances, but couldn’t test Martin. But Perez was rewarded for his performance in the 56th minute after Semedo stole the ball deep in Betis area before finding the young Spaniard on the edge of the area. Perez made the defender miss with a lovely first touch and fired a low shot for his first senior goal for the Catalan club.
Just four minutes later, Betis’ ship sunk even further. Busquets sent a lovely through ball to Alba, who had time to assess his options. Alba appeared desperate to pass the ball, but with no Barcelona player in the same zip code he opted to take the shot and beat Martin to the far post.
The match was now all but decided, but Barcelona continued to attack, though the pace of play dropped dramatically. Betis took up a more attacking formation as Rubi had nothing more to lose, though their attacking efforts often brought little excitement. Ernesto Valverde made his first substitution in the 74th minute when Vidal replaced Busquets, who picked up a knock just moments earlier.
In the 77th minute, Vidal was already on the scoreboard. Quick, crisp and accurate passing led to Griezmann squaring the ball over to the wide open Vidal who powered the ball under the crossbar. Immediately after the goal, 16-year-old Ansu Fati was given his professional debut as he replaced Perez. Moments later, Griezmann turned the ball over in transition to Moron, who from 30-yards out fired an unstoppable howitzer past ter Stegen and under the crossbar.
Another debut in Barcelona colors was given in the 82nd minute as Junior Firpo replaced Rafinha, moving Alba to play left-wing. Both teams continued their search for goals, though Barcelona showed more, and Fati was also able to quickly showcase his immense talent, making good use of the minutes given to him. Three minutes were added on and at the start of added time Griezmann almost completed the hat-trick, after a lovely pass from Fati, but the Frenchman’s shot was saved.
Like last season, seven goals were scored between Barcelona and Real Betis and the Camp Nou, but this time Barcelona emerged victorious and secured their first win of the season. Barcelona football will return on Saturday when the Catalans make a trip to the newly promoted Osasuna.