Barcelona are through to the Spanish Super Cup Final and will meet Real Madrid on Sunday for the title thanks to a 4-2 win on penalties after a 2-2 draw in extra-time against Real Betis on Thursday’s semi-final. A hard-fought, very open game saw loads of chances and very good goals from both teams, and after 120 minutes of fun it was all about Marc-André ter Stegen, who shined in the penalty shootout to send Barça through.
Barça made a good start to the half with complete control of possession and forcing Betis to defend deep inside their half, and despite having over 80% of the ball the Blaugrana had a good rhythm to their passing and tried moving the ball quickly to find spaces inside a tight structure from the opposition.
But the Catalans ruined every good attacking moment with a bad pass or a poor decision in the final third, and the only time when they did create a real chance it resulted in a disallowed goal by Pedri thanks to Raphinha being offside by literally a toe in the buildup.
Betis barely had any possession but knew exactly what to do with it, and they were a real threat every time they attacked. They mostly created danger through the air, and Marc-André ter Stegen had to make an exceptional save on a header by Germán Pezzella.
Just as it seemed as though Manuel Pellegrini’s side were ready to take the lead, Barça finally found a breakthrough: a long ball by Pedri found Ousmane Dembélé on the left wing, and after beating his defender he set up Robert Lewandowski inside the box, and despite having his initial shot blocked the Pole didn’t give up on the play and scored a pretty volley on the rebound to give Barça the lead.
Betis responded immediately with two good chances in less than 10 seconds that required two more outstanding Ter Stegen saves, and at halftime the Blaugrana were in front but certainly not comfortable, and Betis looked ready to launch a blitz in the second half.
The second half was played at a very slow pace for the first 30 minutes as Betis had more of the ball but struggled to maintain the same intensity from the end of the first half, and Barça were more cautious in their approach and had more men behind the ball to deny spaces and try to create on the counter.
Neither team had success in their approach, there were plenty of fouls and yellow cards, and it looked like Barça were going to escape with another 1-0 win. But the Blaugrana made a poor mistake at the back, couldn’t clear their lines at the edge of the box and the ball fell to Nabil Fekir who fired it past Ter Stegen and equalized with 15 minutes to go.
Barça replied instantly with a second for Lewandowski, but the goal was ruled out for a Ferran Torres offside and we were back to all square. Both teams went forward looking for a late winner, but neither could find it and the final whistle came to send the semi-final to extra-time.
Barça made a flying start to the bonus period, retaking the lead thanks to a sensational strike by Ansu Fati to put them ahead just three minutes in. But Betis weren’t going to give up easy, and they got back in the game on a beautiful move down the right wing by Luiz Henrique and a great backheel finish from substitute Loren Morón.
The second half of extra-time had very little action as both teams were clearly not going to take any risks and would rather go to penalties, and despite Betis going down to 10 men when Guardado received a red card deep into the period Barça couldn’t take advantage and the final whistle came to send this one to penalties.
Both teams scored their first two penalties, then Ter Stegen showed up: the Barça keeper saved two penalties in a row against Juanmi and William Carvalho, and Pedri scored the last one to give Barça a 4-2 shootout win and send them through to the Final.
This was a fun semi-final between two very good teams, and we’ll have El Clásico on Sunday. That should be all kinds of fun.
Real Betis: Bravo; Ruibal (Sabaly 79’), Pezzella, Felipe, Miranda; Rodríguez (Guardado 86’), Canales (Carvalho 46’); Henrique, Fekir (Loren 91’), Rodri (Juanmi 79’); Iglesias (José 67’)
Goals: Fekir (77’), Loren (101’)
Red Card: Guardado (118’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto (Christensen 79’), Araujo, Kounde, Alba (Alonso 79’); Gavi (Kessie 96’), De Jong (Busquets 63’), Pedri; Raphinha (Fati 86’), Lewandowski, Dembélé (Ferran 63’)
Goals: Lewandowski (40’), Fati (93’)