Saturday, January 29, 2022

Barcelona 0-1 Real Betis: Juanmi gives Xavi his first defeat

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 4 Dec 2021

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Xavi had his first taste of defeat as Barcelona boss with Juanmi securing Real Betis a famous 1-0 victory at Camp Nou on Saturday. 

Barca defeated Espanyol and Villarreal in their first two LaLiga matches under Xavi, which came either side of a goalless draw at home to Benfica in the Champions League. 

The lacked a serious attacking threat against Betis and were punished on the break by Juanmi with 11 minutes remaining. 

Ez Abde missed a glorious chance to salvage a point for the Blaugrana, who could find themselves seven points adrift of the top four and 16 off top spot if Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid win later in the day. 

Philippe Coutinho sent a tame effort from Jordi Alba’s cross towards the near post in the 11th minute and Rui Silva held it at the second attempt. 

Gavi had to go off after the ball was kicked against his head by Hector Bellerin, meaning his status for the crunch Champions League clash with Bayern Munich in midweek could now be in doubt. 

After Juanmi had a goal disallowed for a narrow offside decision, Xavi sent Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembele on with Barca toiling. 

Dembele was lively but could not find the target and Betis put them to the sword with a swift break that finished with Juanmi sliding home a pass from former Barca winger Cristian Tello. 

Barca pushed for a winner but Ez Abde blazed their best opportunity over from eight yards with 10 minutes remaining. 

Ronald Araujo was deemed to have fouled Andres Guardado despite appealing for a stoppage-time penalty, leaving Xavi to cope with the bitter taste of a first defeat.

What does it mean? Big task awaits Barca 

Xavi was unable to become just the fifth Barca boss this century to win his first three LaLiga games at the helm. Tito Vilanova, Gerardo Martino, Luis Enrique and Ernesto Valverde are the only coaches to achieve the feat. 

The Blaugrana laboured against Betis, who managed to keep a clean sheet in a league game against Barca for the first time since September 2002. They won 3-0 on that occasion, when Xavi made his 100th LaLiga appearance. 

The Barca boss will need to quickly lift the spirits of his team as their Champions League campaign remains in the balance – only a win against Bayern can guarantee their place in the last 16. 

Quiet Depay 

Memphis Depay had scored in eight of his prior 14 LaLiga appearances this season, but he failed to register a single attempt on goal against Betis. He did, however, supply two key passes. 

Milestone for Alba 

Jordi Alba became the 15th player to make 400 competitive appearances for Barca. He would have marked the occasion with an assist had Coutinho got more power on his cross early in the first half. 

What’s next? 

Barca will be playing for their place in the Champions League when host Bayern on Wednesday, while Betis travel to Celtic in the Europa League on Thursday. 

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