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Five talking points from Barcelona 5-2 Real Betis

A much-needed win for Ronald Koeman’s side

FC Barcelona v Real Betis - La Liga Santander Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

What to do with Griezmann?

Antoine Griezmann had yet another perplexing afternoon in a Barcelona shirt on Saturday against Real Betis.

The Frenchman fizzed a couple of early shots just wide, saw a penalty saved by Claudio Bravo but then popped up with a goal and an assist in the second half.

The relief when he finally scored was palpable and it was no surprise to see his face light up with a big smile. Yet there was a more telling shot late on when the cameras panned to Griezmann sitting in the stands after being substituted and looking utterly miserable.

The goal should give the Frenchman some much-needed confidence, and Ronald Koeman did praise the forward after the match. Yet you can’t help but feel Griezmann will be relieved to be heading off on France duty and getting away from Barca for a while.

Messi to the rescue

FC Barcelona v Real Betis - La Liga Santander Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

The big surprise ahead of kick-off was the news that Lionel Messi had been left out of the starting line-up for the game against Betis.

Koeman had refused to rest Messi up until now, and it turned out afterwards that he been taken out of the team after feeling a bit of a niggle after Dynamo Kiev.

Yet you wouldn’t have known he had a problem by his second-half performance. The captain arrived at half-time with the scores at 1-1 and led his team to a 5-2 win.

The captain teed up Griezmann beautifully to make it 2-1, added Barca’s third from the penalty spot and then smashed home his first goal from open play in 2020-21 to make it 4-2.

It was an influential performance by the captain and should shut up some of the doubters after some nonsense criticism in the wake of the Dynamo Kiev win.

Pedri keeps delivering

Pedri started again for Barcelona against Betis and showed again just why he’s getting so much game time this season. No-one expected the 17-year-old to be a regular in the team by November but that’s what’s happened and it’s well deserved.

The teenager produced a brilliant flicked pass for Antoine Grizemann which deserved far better from the Frenchman but also popped up late to score his first La Liga goal for his new club.

Pedri has benefited from Philippe Coutinho’s injury which has seen the Brazilian sidelined for the past four games, but on this form he could well keep his place even when Coutinho’s ready to return.

Plenty for Koeman to ponder over the break

FC Barcelona v Real Betis - La Liga Santander Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

There’s no doubt the win will ease some pressure on Ronald Koeman after a run of four games without a win in La Liga, but there’s still plenty of work for the new coach still to do.

Once again Barcelona missed a host of chances and have now lost Ansu Fati to injury. The teenager has had a great start to the season and will certainly be missed.

Yet defensively there were also issues once again. Sergi Roberto contributed two assists but that should not mask his struggles on the right side of the defence.

Meanwhile, Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet were far from commanding, as Barcelona continue to look defensively vulnerable.

Indeed goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen didn’t have to be quite as influential on Saturday but still made a number of important stops to deny Real Betis more goals.

Dembele doing the business

One player who is doing the business for Barcelona is Ousmane Dembele. The Frenchman scored his first La Liga goal in over a year with a simply brilliant strike to open the scoring.

That’s now three for the season for the 23-year-old and, perhaps more importantly, he’s also enjoying a run of games for the first time in a long time.

Dembele also won the penalty in the second half after his goalbound shot was handled and can be pleased with a good afternoon’s work.

The injury to Ansu Fati means Dembele will become even more important to Barca in the coming weeks and months, let’s hope he can stay fit and keep playing like this.

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