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Barcelona win it late and show signs of their potential

There are a lot of positives to take from the victory over Betis

Real Betis Sevilla v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

Now that was a must-win game. A result that could energize Barcelona at a critical juncture in the season.

Nothing better to motivate Barca players than to see another Real Madrid scandal manifest just prior to kickoff.

You can’t make this stuff up. A sketchy penalty, followed by VAR controversy, which leads to eleven plus minutes of stoppage time, which is just enough to get the game winning goal. And with it, Real Madrid will maintain their place atop the La Liga standings.

Real Madrid CF v UD Almeria - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Diego Souto/Getty Images

Barcelona came out ready to play good football in this game.

Xavi made a big call in giving a debut to 16-year-old center-back Pau Cubarsí, who repaid the manager with a calm and confident performance, proving he’s ready to put in a shift at the top level.

The midfield picked itself, with the combo of Frenkie, Gundogan, and Pedri demonstrating how effective they can be if they are healthy and in-form.

But the stars of the show came from the forward line. Robert Lewandowski continues to be a side character, but we got a glimpse of the goal creating capability of Lamine Yamal, and the poaching prowess of Ferran Torres.

Most telling of all was Xavi’s lack of hesitation to pull the Polish legend from the game in the 62nd minute, giving Vitor Roque ample time to show he’s the better man for the job. In the end, the Brazilian wasn’t able to make his case, but the manager is signaling to his players that no one is safe.

Real Betis Sevilla v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

That includes Joao Felix, who started the game from the bench. His replacement, Ferran Torres, was the star of the show in this one. But Felix came on knowing he had to make his mark if he wanted to take back his starting spot, and become the match-winning hero, with an incredible display of class with the go ahead goal.

This version of Barcelona can go places.

As we’ve known all along, there is no lack of talent on the roster. As devastating and disruptive the injuries have been to Gavi, Pedri, and Raphinha, there is enough quality at every position to compete with any team they encounter.

In this game, we got goals. And we got all four of them from the forwards.

Real Betis Sevilla v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

And the best forward of them all didn’t get on the scoresheet. But made his influence felt in the final third from start to finish.

Lamine Yamal is lightning in a bottle, ready to explode at any moment.

Xavi has been wise to manage his minutes and his role this campaign. In fact, that level of patience and prudence with the young Spaniard is probably the best thing Xavi has done as manager this season. And it will likely pay dividends going forward, whether he’s around to enjoy the fruits or not.

Ferran had the game of a lifetime by his standards, but Lamine was there as a playmaker making the magic happen. He hit the woodwork twice, and was a constant threat down the right side. With the loss of Ousmane Dembele this season, Yamal is the only player on the roster (maybe a case can be made for Felix) who can break down defensive lines single-handedly.

Real Betis Sevilla v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

Barcelona are unlucky to still be seven points behind Real Madrid.

But there is still a lot of time left in the Spanish season.

If the Blaugrana can build momentum now, it will be coming at just the right time, with the Copa quarter-final up next, followed by a gentle run of fixtures in La Liga that, nonetheless, are not to be taken granted, and finally a big matchday against Napoli in their return to the Champions League.

Xavi deserves credit for the decisions he made in this game with player selection, and in game management. It made a difference in getting Barcelona to play better, take a lead, and then finally closing out the game after giving up that lead.

Real Betis Sevilla v FC Barcelona - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

No one expects perfection. But we do need to start seeing this Barcelona team playing with grit and passion on a consistent basis.

This was a good start to get things turned around.

Maybe we should thank Real Madrid for the wake up call too. It’s a reminder that things never come easy for Barcelona. They have to leave nothing to chance.

I’m just grateful for the injection of hope.

That was a fun game to watch.

And a reminder that this team can be pretty damn good when they get their mojo going.

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