Barça 5 Betis 0

The Copa del Rey semi finals await Barça after a 5-0 win over Real Betis in tonight’s quarter final first leg at Camp Nou. Leo Messi celebrated his second Ballon d’Or by scoring another hat-trick and goals from Pedro and Keita near the end left the tie practically out of Betis’s reach. The win means that the team has equalled Barça’s best ever unbeaten run of 27 games which was set in the 1973/74 season. Since losing to Hercules on September 11, we have won 22 and drawn 5 in Liga, Copa and Champions League.

Pep Guardiola showed he meant business tonight by selecting a very strong side with only Valdés and Abidal left out of the theoretical strongest eleven. From the beginning Betis showed that they deserved Guardiola’s respect. They are obviously used to having the ball when they play in the second division and to their credit they tried to stick to their normal style despite playing at Camp Nou. This led to a very open game with both defences plaing high up the pitch, and as an example of Betis’s ambition there were moments when Barça had the ball in defence and I counted seven Betis players in our half to pressurize our defence, and there were times when we did not look comfortable at the back because of this.

However, this also meant that there were spaces behind both defences and the chances came in for both teams. Villa brought the first save of the match from Betis keeper Casto in the first minute, and a couple of minutes later Casto was very alert and quick to rush out to intercept Iniesta’s clever throughball intended for Messi, the ball then went straight up the other end and Pinto had to save with his knee a shot from Ruben Castro.

In the 14th minute Xavi played the ball towards Villa on the left, Villa ran towards the ball but jumped over it to allow Maxwell to receive, Maxwell played the ball straight back into the middle for Villa who had continued his run but the final shot hit the base of the post. However, Betis continued to find chances for themselves, in the 21st minute Jorge Molina turned inside Puyol but he could only shoot wide of Pinto’s near post. Maxwell was getting forward well on the left and in the 24th minute his cross found Messi at the far post, Messi controlled brilliantly with his chest before firing a volley from close in that Casto did brilliantly to parry. Ruben Castro had another effort to beat Pinto but his lob went over the bar, this was followed by the unusual sight of Piqué and Alves shouting and gesticulating at each other for at least ten seconds (maybe Alves is just jealous about the rumour in today’s press that Piqué is going out with the well-known singer Shakira).

Messi scores the opening goal

Little by little, as we neared the end of the first half, we began to look more in control. Villa and Pedro both had chances, and despite another Pinto save from Molina’s header, we were getting closer and closer to a goal. Villa had the ball in the net after 42 minutes but he was correctly called offside, then just before half time Xavi won the ball near the half-way line and Iniesta came away with the ball, Iniesta then fed Vila and went forward to receive the ball in his stride, he then drew the defence towards him before freeing Messi on the right and Messi comfortably stroked the ball past Casto.

Betis didn’t change their style after the goal and this was demonstrated early in the second half when Xavi was robbed of the ball trying to dribble out of the side of the penalty area. Right up to the hour mark Betis were well in the game and Castro forced another save from Pinto after Piqué gave the ball away near the touchline. However, we have often seen that teams who try to pressurize us all over the pitch end up running out of gas, and this is what happened in the last half hour as we began to exploit the growing spaces in the Betis defence. In the 62nd minute a clearance fell straight to Maxwell in the Betis half, Maxwell played it forward to Villa who found Messi in the area, Casto stopped Messi’s first effort but Messi being Messi was onto the rebound and he somehow found a gap to send the ball softly over the line for his second.

My first thought when the ball went in was: now we must finish them off. And that is exactly what we did. Xavi began to find the gaps behind the Betis defence and it was usually Alves or Messi to run onto the pass. In the 69th minute, Xavi sent Alves through but Alves fired a good chance wide, then four minutes later Xavi again put a great ball through this time for Mesi to run straight through the middle before clinically beating Casto for his hat-trick. Mesi then missed an even better chance probably because he had too much time to think and a moment’s hesitation gave Casto the chance to close down the angle.

Our chances were coming quickly now, Messi had another run thwarted as he got close to goal, and then Alves again burst into the area after another Xavi pass, Alves dribbled right up top the keeper and when Casto denied him Alves knocked the ball back to Pedro who made no mistake from eight yards out. There was yet another chance for Alves with yet another save from Casto, but then in the 83rd minute Messi found Iniesta inside the area near the goal line, Iniesta surprised everyone by scoping the ball up with his instep, sending the ball in a high loop to trhe far post where Keita jumped higher than anyone else to head home the fifth.

I have to say I felt sorry for Betis as they played with a lot of heart and courage. It is just another sign of how good Barça are at the moment, that I can honestly say Betis played at a pretty decent level, and for an hour they were very good. I would like to see teams rewarded for not parking the bus but it seems it doesn’t matter how you play us at the moment, Depor were very defensive on Saturday and they lost 0-4, Betis were much more ambitious in their approach and the received a 5-0 thrashing. We were not at our best tonight and we allowed Betis more chances than most teams have had against us recently. Fortunately Pinto had a decent game between the post though his play with his feet is still not really up to scratch, it reminds me how lucky we are to have Valdés whose mistakes with his kicking are few and far between. We are back to the league on Saturday with the visit of Malaga, Pep Guardiola will now have the advantage of picking a strong team for this game with the knowledge that we can rest players for the second leg at Betis next week without it being much of a risk.

Barça: Pinto 6.5; Alves 6.5, Piqué 6, Puyol 6, Maxwell 7; Xavi 8, Busquets 6, Iniesta 8; Pedro 6.5 (Afellay m79, 6), Messi 8.5 (Jeffren m86, –), Villa 6.5 (Keita m74, 6.5).

Betis: Casto; Isidoro, Miki Roqué, Arzu, Nacho; Iriney (m63 Juanma), Beñat (m57 Juande), Salva Sevilla; Israel (m76Pereira), Rubén Castro, Molina.

Goals: m44 Messi 1-0, m63 Messi 2-0, m73 Messi 3-0, m76 Pedro 4-0, m83 Keita 5-0.

Yellow cards: m20 Iriney, m39 Miki Roqué, m56 Busquets, m60 Isidoro

Attendance: 59,498

The three best players in the world

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This entry was posted in Andres Iniesta, Copa Del Rey, Ibrahim Afellay, Leo Messi, Match reports, Xavi Hernandez and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Barça 5 Betis 0

  1. Noureddine says:

    It was a tough game though, and the score line doesn’t tell the whole story, we had gaps in our back line and trust me things would’ve been entirely different against a good top flight team, and I don’t know what was Betis’s coach thinking by playing a high line defence against us and in the CAMP NOU, it’s more like putting a gun in your mouth for a bullet of mercy.

    As Nic said this team deserves tremendous respect for coming to CAMP NOU and paying football, and not parking the bus, and at one point I really felt sorry for them, and wished if we had stopped scoring, but it’s not personal that’s just how we roll nowadays.

  2. bc9jaCulé says:

    Just perfect!
    I’m well aware of the fact that we wasted a couple of chances but hey, we nailed them 5 unreplied goals & you’ll agree with me that a team like ours must not nip every chance in the bud for the results will sound rather awkward (what would you make of a scoreline of like, say, ’12 – 0′?).

    Besides, I must say Betis showed a considerable measure of courage and their goalie was extra-superb.

    Hopefully, Affelay will eventually get his first start @ Betis’s and give us a full dose of what he’s got.

    @ Noureddine

    About your first paragraph. We wouldn’t have played as such if it were a more credible opponent, trust me. Albeit we fielded a very strong squad, we didn’t give our ‘BEST’ (because we didn’t have to, did we?), remember!

    P.S.
    All hail King Leo!!!
    What a resoundin’ & convincin’ way to shut his critics up about not deservin’ the FIFA Ballon d’Or award. In fact, he couldn’t have done it in a better way than the hat-trick he scored last night. Please keep the clock tickin’ — more glories await!

    Forca Barca!!!

  3. barcacentralomer says:

    Well done on a terrific performance and like Nic says credit must be given to Betis for not ‘parking the bus’. I was actually looking forward to more than the 2 changes made but as long as Pep keeps getting results like these, I’m going to switch off from ‘critical’ mode.

    @Nic: Whats the update on the Milito situation considering we have 3 regular CBs in the squad? More importantly perhaps are the supposed snags in Busquets contract renewal something we should be worried about?

  4. FCB-Parbo says:

    Oops, Messi did it again “in style”!! He’s SIMPLY THE BEST. How happy to see that the 3 musketeers we’re so proud of and with each other. That way to shot up the (madrid) press about the jealousy talk between them. And what was that all about between Alves and Piqué. Good to see that it didn’t effect their play. Passing the ball to one another, so I think it was juuuust a little itching. Anyway, happy happy with the result.

  5. Hilal says:

    It is pretty scary that in a game in which we win 5-0 the opposition’s goalkeeper could be given the MOTM award. That guy made some amazing stops.

    Poor Villa, deserved a goal tonight. He must really hate the sound of the ball hitting the post. How many times has he hit the post so far this season? Its gotta be at least 5 or 6 times.

  6. Fredegar says:

    I find you a bit harsch with your 61/2 for Pinto Nic. He had more saves to make than Valdes had the whole year, and he didn’t fluff any, which is in itself pretty impressive for a goalkeeper almost completely lacking competition. Granted his distribution was a bit cagey at times, but he wasn’t helped by the fact that Betis had a very good pressing in place, and also I thought our field players were not making all the efforts possible to make them available.
    I know many people don’t trust him, but I fail to understand why. His CV before coming to Barça was pretty nice (was it a Zamora with Celta?) and he has been nothing less than solid in the rare apparitions he has made for us. I still think his penalty save in the Cup two years ago was a turning point in the “triplet”. Valdes he is not for sure, but what kind of Valdes would stand to play only in the Cup?
    Hats off to Betis, they had no fear, played to their own strengths and that made for a very entertaining game. They might feel a bit sorry today, but they should remember that they were many times pretty close to score a goal that would have given them the lead or at least an equaliser. Had they managed it the issue could have been different, so maybe it was still worthy to try it better than park the bus and finish with the same result but without the entertainment…
    And just one word to finish: MESSI

  7. gowtham says:

    hey guys:
    barcacentralomer: the situation regarding milito is that he is probably going to malaga on a 6 month loan according to EMD…
    that really sucks because now were recognized with 3 centerbacks, puyol, pique, and abidal, who is our primary left back,,,let’s just hope that fontas can be a good asset for us, im sure he can

    ANd reagarding the ballon d’or, messi is a worthy recipient, just as much as the other 2, he IS hands down, the world’s best player

  8. Caleb says:

    Another solid performance. Betis should be coming back up next season. They played us better than many Primera sides, creating more chances than most. It was a fun game to watch. Thanks Betis.

  9. Pingback: Preview: Betis v Barça | barcacentral

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