After a disappointing finish in the Copa Del Rey tournament, with a loss to Rayo Vallecano at 3-2 on the 23rd of January, Real Betis has been performing admirably in the subsequent La Liga matches. The team was in good spirits for their at-home 9 February contest against rivals Barcelona. But even with a valiant attempt to hold off the hungry competitors in front of thousands of loyal hometown fans, Betis ended this most recent contest with another nail biter of a defeat, on a 3-2 loss.
For their part, opponents Barca was desperate for a win to stay atop the La Liga rankings, just a few points behind leader Real Madrid. The Betis squad is currently holding its own at position 13 in the league’s rankings of all 20 teams after 23 games played. There are 15 games remaining in the season.
Betis, in their traditional green and white strip emblazoned with their online broker sponsor’s logo, began the scoring early in the game when player Canales converted a penalty. However, Barca quickly answered when Barca star De Jong was able to put one past the very able Betis goalkeeper, Joel Robles. That tied the score and Barca appeared ready to repeat with another quick score, but it wasn’t meant to be as the visitors erred. As quick as a wink, Betis player Fekir led a counter-strike against Barcelona and put the hometown squad up 2-1. It looked like Real Betis would walk into the halftime break with a nice psychological advantage of a 2-1 lead, but just before the half’s whistle blew, Robles was again beaten to the punch by a Barca player, this time Busquets, who turned a Betis lead into a halftime tie of 2-2.
When the second half began, Barca came on strong, with their star player, Messi, nearly putting two goals past Robles. To his great credit, Robles was able to deter both of Messi’s attempts and stave off disaster. The score remained tied, but by this point Barca was fired up and dominating both the mental game and time of possession. At the 70-minute mark, Barcelona player Lenglet took a quick pass from Messi and converted it into a solid, back of the net goal, putting the visitors up by 3-2. There was no more scoring for the day and Betis ended up with a frustrating loss to one of the nation’s top-ranked teams in what could honestly be called a close game, at least in the first half.
Coaches and Disputes
Barcelona’s new coach, Setien, had not been able to score an away victory since early December and was looking to re-establish his team’s ability to persist in tough matches on foreign turf. Coach Setien noted the fact that this win was an extremely important boost for the squad as they are now in the thick of La Liga top-ranked competition, currently second, behind league leaders Real Madrid.
Real Betis coach Rudi was angry, and made it known to the referees that one of the Barca players should have been penalized in the second half but was not. That call would have reduced the visitors to just 10 players at a key moment in the game and likely changed the outcome. In any case, Real Betis now holds a season record of 7 wins, 7 draws and 9 losses and is ranked 13th in the Spanish Primera Division.