Review: Barça charms against a dull Betis

SEVILLE, SPAIN - APRIL 30:  Ivan Rakitic (L) of FC Barcelona celebrates scoring their opening goal with teammate Jordi Alba (2ndL) during the La Liga match between Real Betis Balompie and FC Barcelona at Estadio Benito Villamarin on April 30, 2016 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Playing football against FC Barcelona is hard. Refusing to play against them, on the other hand, can look depressingly easy. On a spring evening in Sevilla, Real Betis Balompié greeted its visitors with the not very hospitable intention of boring them to sleep, and if only everyone had stuck to the plan not to try too hard they might have succeeded.

For most of the match, Betis resolutely rejected both pressing and possession. Juan Merino’s defensive approach was a formulaic flat 4-4-2 with a medium block, the choice of many less ambitious sides against Barça’s possession game—think Atlético Madrid without the spells of orchestrated pressure or the skillful counterattacks. If Betis ever had an offensive gameplan, it died at the halfway line, leaving the 34-year-old journeyman striker Rubén Castro to forge ahead like a solitary sniffer dog in a minefield of Javier Mascherano tackles. On the day, Barcelona’s official possession figure was 73%, but it felt more like 173%.


Preview: No stumble in Seville


There’s nothing complicated at this stage. With three games left in the league and the points as tight as they are FC Barcelona can only consider 9 from 9 points satisfactory. Tomorrow the team travels down south to Sevilla to take on Real Betis for the first of those 3 points.


Barça v Betis: A fan’s perspective


As regular totalBarça followers will remember, I recently had the pleasure of watching the Barça v Betis match live from the Camp Nou. And while the evening was amazing in sporting terms, the thing that really fascinated me was the sideshow of events outside of the actual football match. As always, read on for details!


Rival watch: La Liga’s summer winners and losers

Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

In a not-so-alternate universe, Barça was forced to watch the rest of Spain shop while Camp Nou got carried away with the elections. However, like a rich kid forced not to touch the toys in the shop, the Catalan was able to secure two signings for 2016 – An action figure with a well hand-crafted majestic beard, along with a toy previously owned by his younger brother “B”, wearing some new bling. So while Barça were fortunately omitted from this summer’s transfer madness, they still had the pleasure to smirkingly wave their hands over to their arch-nemesis in the capital after Flo-P’s keeper-fiasco. Write them off? It’s too early to suggest that despite their failures. However, the capital’s minor signings and the Catalans’ omission was eclipsed by a Spanish summer transfer window that could change the tale of the Oh-so two-horse league.