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Barcelona back where they belong at the top table after battling performance at Betis

Mission accomplished for Xavi’s side

Real Betis Sevilla v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

It’s hard to be critical of Xavi’s Barcelona when they play like that.

The game against Betis was always going to be an exciting one because, let’s face it, when is it not?!

Perhaps the fact that neither team were at full strength added to the allure and clearly, the game being played at a frenetic pace suited the visitors.

Passing was crisp and accurate for long periods, whilst movement was inventive at best.

In some of the big moments, the players needed to be more decisive it’s true, but at no point did the XI ever look overawed.

Even taking into account how often Neto was called upon in the second 45, there was a lot to like about this performance.

Real Betis Sevilla v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Of course, there’ll be those Barca fans that will point to Ousmane Dembele’s final ball not being on point throughout, or Frenkie de Jong’s urgency leaving much to be desired at times.

However, that would be to completely ignore the good things both did in the game.

A team that is still very much in transition has to be allowed to develop and mature without having to feel the wrath of the supporters week in and week out.

The clue is in the name: support-ers.

Let’s not forget either that this was a team missing Pedri, Gerard Pique and Marc-Andre ter Stegen as a start point, and until the latter stages of the game they were more than a match for opponents who were deserved recent Copa del Rey winners.

Real Betis Sevilla v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

The catalyst to the win which earns Barca a vital Champions League berth came via the foot of Ansu Fati.

Like so many instances already, and surely many more in the future, the youngster showed he has magic in his boots.

A draw was acceptable in the circumstances after Marc Bartra’s equaliser, but if you’re going to secure Champions League football, why not do it with a sensational 94th minute volley.

I contended in a previous column that Barca’s old timers might be holding them back, but on the night we saw vintage Busi, and it was somewhat poetic that Dani Alves teed up Jordi Alba for the piece de resistance.

Mission accomplished.

Time to look forward now and not back, and see where this new adventure takes the Blaugranes. Even if there’s plenty of work still to be done, there’s more than enough to be excited about.

That’s better than Barca could’ve hoped for at the turn of the year.