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La Liga: Xavi slips against Betis

Barcelona need a historic win at Allianz Arena in midweek to ensure Champions League survival.

But their preparation for the crunch clash was far less than ideal as the Bluagrana tasted their first La Liga defeat under Xavi Hernandez, losing 1-0 to Real Betis. 

The match went down a common narrative as Barcelona dominated most of the ball, but failed to capitalize on it.

Los Verdiblancos successfully kept the Barca attackers at bay and left Camp Nou with three precious points. 

Juanmi strikes for Betis

Real Betis got their winning goal eleven minutes from time.

Sergio Canales and Cristian Tellos were the architects of a lightning fast Betis counter and Juanmi applied the finishing touch to it with a cool headed finish. 

Before the kickoff, there was a festive atmosphere around Camp Nou as the crowd cheered for Pedri and Alexia Putella who were presented with the Kopa Trophy and the Ballon d’Or Feminin, respectively. 

But, the home side failed to translate that euphoria to success on the pitch. 

Philippe Coutinho got a rare start as Xavi trusted the Brazilian to pull the strings behind Memphis Depay and Abde Ezzalzouli. 

But, the hosts lacked a creative flair from the beginning and their attacking threat got further depleted when Gavi walked off the pitch with a head injury nine minutes before halftime. 

Alex Moreno got the best chance of the half as he left Sergino Dest for dead, but could not keep his shot on target. 

Coutinho did have an impressive 20 minute spell after the kickoff when he led the Barca press from the front.  

The visitors struggled to work through the Barca press, but did well to deny Barcelona access to their box. 

However, they slowly managed to exert more influence on the game as Barca’s dominance waned.

The affair stood at 0-0, with Moreno getting the best chance of the half to break the deadlock. 

Barcelona came out more dominant in the second half, but again, they could not show anything for it. 

Dembele impresses

Ousmane Dembele had a thirty minute stint in the second half as a substitute and he terrorised the opposition throughout.

He dribbled through a pack of defenders, created a host of chances, but his efforts were all in vain as Barca failed to pick the lock of a resilient Betis defence. 

Manuel Pellegrini’s men now have a seven point lead over Barcelona and occupy third place on the table. Barcelona, on the other hand, sit seventh with a match in hand. 

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