Barcelona remain 11 points clear at the top of the La Liga table and are one step closer to the title thanks to a comfortable 4-0 victory against Real Betis at the Spotify Camp Nou on Saturday night. The Blaugrana played an excellent game and were fully in control the entire night against a Betis side that played with 10 men from the 30th minute and had to finish the night with only nine players, but Barça still fully deserved all three points and are very close to officially clinching the championship with six games to go.
The opening period was about as close to perfect as it gets for Barça. Their four-midfielder system was restored with Sergio Busquets, Frenkie De Jong, Pedri and Gavi reuniting and playing very well together. Dominance at the center of the park was the basis for the Blaugrana being in full control, and they moved the ball and their bodies well all around the pitch to create spaces and open up the Betis defense.
Barça scored early, with Raphinha playing a perfect cross and Andreas Christensen heading home the opener. Betis had a couple of good attacks immediately after Barça’s goal but couldn’t sustain their response, and the Catalans continued to be the better team. And things got even better when substitute Edgar González, who came in in the 12th minute to replace the injured Luiz Felipe, was sent off for two silly yellow cards in a span of 20 minutes.
The home team instantly pounced and scored two quick goals to effectively end the contest: the first came after a beautiful passing sequence down the right flank, a great low cross from Jules Kounde and an excellent finish from Robert Lewandowski, and the second was the product of a magical assist by Sergio Busquets and a smart strike from Raphinha to make it 3-0 at halftime.
At the break Barça were the better team and were up three goals against 10 men, and the chances of a Betis comeback were pretty much zero. Would Barça score more goals and send the crowd home happy in the second half?
The final period was played at a much slower pace with Betis unwilling to take risks and leave space in behind while Barça were content to keep possession and not waste too much energy with a very commanding lead.
But the Catalans remained aggressive in attack and continued to create excellent chances, but the ball just wouldn’t go in despite the best efforts from the likes of Lewandowski, Ronald Araujo and others.
Things got even worse for Betis as Joaquín suffered a knee injury that forced him to leave the pitch after the visitors had already made all five substitutions, and Betis had to play the final 10 minutes with 9 men. They finally conceded a fourth shortly after, with Guido Rodríguez deflecting a cross from Ansu Fati into his own net.
There was enough time for an exciting debut as 15-year-old Lamine Yamal made his first-ever appearance in the dying seconds. The youngster almost scored just three minutes into his career when he pounced on a mistake by Montoya and was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Rui Silva made an excellent save to deny the La Masia gem.
The final whistle came to end a very good night for Barça, who had a much easier task than expected thanks to the Betis red card but still earned the three points with a very good attacking performance. The 11-point lead is restored, and Barça have nine fingers on the trophy. Well done, boys!
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Christensen (Alonso 59’), Balde; Pedri (Kessie 73’), Busquets, De Jong (Fati 59’); Raphinha (Dembélé 73’), Lewandowski, Gavi (Yamal 83’)
Goals: Christensen (14’), Lewandowski (36’), Raphinha (39’), Rodríguez (OG 82’)
Real Betis: Silva; Montoya, Pezzella, Felipe (González 12’), Miranda (Joaquín 64’); Rodríguez, Carvalho; Henrique (Akouokou 46’), Canales (Juanmi 75’), Pérez (Abner 64’); José
Red Card: González (33’)