Barcelona moved 11 points clear at the top of La Liga with a thumping victory against Real Betis on Saturday.
With only six games left to play, Barça are on the cusp of becoming Spanish champions for the first time since 2019 after easily dismissing the threat of ten-man Betis at Camp Nou.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side were severely hampered by a first-half red card and are now nine points off a Champions League spot following a dip in form.
Just before the 15-minute mark, Barcelona took the lead. Play was recycled from a corner and Raphinha’s deep cross was guided in by the head of Andreas Christensen.
While Betis were making headway trying to get back into the contest, they were reduced to ten men with half an hour on the clock. Edgar Gonzalez, who was brought on as an early substitute for the injured Luiz Felipe, was given two quick yellow cards for cynical challenges.
Soon after, Barcelona added their second goal. Robert Lewandowski scored his second goal in as many games this week after coolly diverting a low cross from Jules Kounde into the far corner.
Raphinha had the ball in the net minutes later after meeting a brilliant through ball from Sergio Busquets and dinking Rui Silva, but he was judged to have been ever so marginally offside by the assistant referee. However, after a lengthy VAR check, the Brazilian was proved to be onside and the goal was allowed to stand.
After the break, Lewandowski twice spurned chances to add to Barça’s lead, firstly scuffing a shot before striking the post – both times he was found by an intricate pass from Pedri.
Ronald Araujo should have found himself on the scoresheet when Kounde flicked on a Raphinha corner, and the Uruguayan skied a free header at the back post.
Barcelona’s fourth came courtesy of a deflected Ansu Fati strike from a corner, with Guido Rodriguez getting the final touch on the ball.
Xavi threw on 15-year-old Lamine Yamal in the final stages of the game as he became the youngest player in the club’s La Liga history and Barcelona cruised to victory.
GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 7/10 – Now up to 24 clean sheets for the season. 24.
RB: Jules Kounde – 7/10 – Helped pin Betis back with high positions on the right.
CB: Ronald Araujo – 7/10 – Defended with his usual aggressive confidence.
CB: Andreas Christensen – 8/10 – A first start since February yielded his first Barcelona goal.
LB: Alejandro Balde – 7/10 – Had a lot of joy sprinting down the left wing.
DM: Sergio Busquets – 8/10 – Rolled back the years with a dominant display in the heart of midfield.
CM: Frenkie de Jong – 6/10 – Kept the ball moving before being hooked on the hour mark.
CM: Pedri – 7/10 – Roamed forward with real intent and was unlucky not to have grabbed an assist.
RW: Raphinha – 9/10 – A goal and an assist for a man who hasn’t quite won over Barcelona fans just yet in his debut season.
CF: Robert Lewandowski – 9/10 – Always looked a threat and didn’t give Betis a moment’s rest.
LW: Gavi – 6/10 – Tucked in-field a fair bit but wasn’t as dangerous as he has been at other points this season.
Marcos Alonso (59′ for Christensen) – 6/10
Ansu Fati (59′ for De Jong) – 7/10
Ousmane Dembele (73′ for Raphinha) – 6/10
Franck Kessie (73′ for Pedri) – 6/10
Lamine Yamal (85′ for Gavi) – N/A
Xavi – 7/10 – Helped plenty by the red card but hey, you can only beat what’s in front of you.
GK: Rui Silva (5); RB: Martin Montoya (5), CB: Luiz Felipe (N/A), CB: German Pezzella (5), LB: Juan Miranda (5); CM: Guido Rodriguez (5), CM: William Carvalho (6); RM: Luiz Henrique (5), AM: Sergio Canales (4), LM: Ayoze Perez (4); CF: Willian Jose (4)
SUBS: Edgar Gonzalez (1), Abner (5), Joaquin (5), Juanmi (N/A)
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