Barcelona 2-0 Real Betis: La Liga – as it happened

An own goal and a Sergi Roberto strike handed a patched-up Barcelona victory

Barcelona come through their opening match of the season with a 2-0 win and at this stage that is all that matters, I suppose, but there is plenty for Ernesto Valverde to solve if he is to be the man who rebuilds Barcelona into a title winning force. For their part Betis looked pretty solid and can take encouragement in defeat. That’s all from me, thanks for reading.


Full-time: Barcelona 2-0 Betis

Messi goes on one final mind-bending run, squeezing between green and white shirts but before he can get a shot away Mandi comes in with an excellent tackle, injuring himself a little in the process. And that’s the final action.

90+2 min Barça are finishing the game with plenty of pressure, Messi injecting energy in an effort to get the elusive goal. But it is relieved when Digne chops down Mandi – yellow card.

90 min After a bit of pinball Francis jams his elbow into Digne’s back and the French left-back wins a free-kick. Barça come forward until Busquets earns another, closer to goal.

88 min A loose ball falls kindly for Fabian and Betis’s best chance of the second half, but he lashes it high over the crossbar from 12 yards.

86 min Corner to Barcelona, conceded by Barragan under pressure. First Barcelona will make their final change – Jordi Alba is replaced by Lucas Digne. Sergi Roberto floats the cross deep and Samuel Umtiti makes up his mind to try a scissor kick. The technique looks good but Feddal blocks him off before he can connect with the ball.

84 min Messi goes close again, cutting in from the right side of the box on to his left foot but Feddal’s feathered deflection is enough to take the sting out of his shot and Adan catches it.

82 min Alcácer is taken off and Denis Suárez replaces him.


81 min Busquets finds Alba down the left who feeds Messi in the centre. He snaps a one-two with Alcácer before slamming a shot against the post from range for the third time in this match. A stunning strike – he might have had a hat-trick on another day but it just won’t go in.

78 min Francis is on too, on the right wing, having replaced the impressive 20-year-old Matías Nahuel while I wasn’t looking.

77 min Fabian replaces Camarasa in the Betis midfield.

76 min Semedo has clear air to sprint into for the first time on his La Liga debut, and the man is quick. He powers down the right and whips a low cross towards Paco Alcácer but scurrying Betis defenders intercept.


74 min Messi pokes a pass to Vidal who bears down on goal but Antonio Adan dashes off his line to make a solid defender’s slide tackle.

72 min Aleix Vidal replaces Gerard Deulofeu in Barcelona’s first change. Deulofeu hasn’t done badly, all told.

71 min Messi has a free-kick. It’s from a challenging wide-right angle but he’s unfazed, cracking a curler an inch over the crossbar with Adan scrambling across goal.

69 min Sergi Roberto inexplicably decides to layoff a pass for Matías Nahuel, who lines up a long range shot and blazes it high into the Camp Nou crowd when he should really have tested Ter Stegen.

67 min Juan José Narváez is replaced in midfield by Javi Garcia, of Real Madrid/Manchester City/Benfica fame.

65 min Roberto chops a pass down the left wing for Deulofeu and Barça flood forwards, but things get congested in the penalty area and Messi can’t get a shot away.

64 min Messi continues to try and make things happen, coming short into midfield to work one-twos, but little is coming off against this well-drilled Betis side. Deulofeu, now playing on the left wing, drives inside and is tackled brilliantly by Mandi, and is left puzzled when he isn’t awarded a corner.

61 min Matías Nahuel smashes into Sergi Roberto with studs showing and gets an immediate yellow card.

59 min They do have Messi, though. He drops deep again to take the ball from Semedo before turning and running at the Betis defence. Messi shifts across to the left and fires a shot from the edge of the box against the foot of the post and wide.

58 min When was the last time Barcelona started a league season with such a weak team?

56 min Alba is at the heart of everything at the moment, playing a smart one-two with Busquets before they play it all the way across to the right for Semedo. The ball makes its way back to Alba who snaps a low pass to Messi on the edge of the box and suddenly he puts his foot down, skipping into the box and avoiding tackles – before eventually losing control.

54 min Feddal is brought down by a light touch from Alba and Betis want a second yellow card for the Barça full-back. The referee is not obliging, and it would have been extremely soft. Joaquín elects to float the set-piece into the box and it’s easily defended.

53 min Betis are passing the ball well and patiently waiting for a gap to open in the Barcelona defence. Recent history suggests one will eventually come, but when they do eventually gamble on a through pass, Sergio León is offside.

51 min The first booking of the game is for Jordi Alba, who slides in pointlessly to bring down Nahuel.

49 min Messi tries a flick with the outside of his boot to Paco Alcácer but they are on different wavelengths, and Betis steal the ball and come forwards.

47 min No changes from either Ernesto Valverde or Quique Setién at the break. Gerard Piqué and Arda Turan are both lurking on Barça’s bench.


The second half is under way with Betis quickly handing the ball over to Barcelona. Alba dashes down the left and swings in a cross but there’s no one in red and blue within ten yards of it.

Ian Copestake emails: “Messi has a pocket in which he works and Coutinho an envelope just outside the box (to the left). Am sure they will both get in each other’s way, so I think it best if Barca look elsewhere.” Barcelona’s supposed deadline imposed on Liverpool to respond to their final offer has passed. Looks like he’ll be back in that Anfield envelope soon.

There have been a couple of goals but the standout moments of the half came from two old heads, Joaquín and Javier Mascherano. The Betis midfielder’s first-time flick over Nélson Semedo’s head near the halfway line to both control the ball and lose his marker was sublime, while Mascherano’s recovery to stop Sergio León from almost certainly equalising was equally fun to watch.

Half-time: Barcelona 2-0 Betis

It was a little turgid for a while, but an own goal and a Sergi Roberto strike have given Barça daylight at the break.

44 min Barcelona hunt Nahuel and pinch the ball from him but can’t fashion a chance as it breaks across the box, and Mandi clears.

42 min Sergi Roberto is enjoying himself now. He tries a scooped pass reminiscent of Xavi in his pomp but it’s cut out by Barragan as Messi went for it with his head near the six-yard box. Betis come forward through Tosca on the left but he concedes possession cheaply.

41 min The Camp Nou is bouncing.

Goal Sergio Léon went through on goal and looked certain to score but from nowhere Mascherano recovered with a brilliant slide tackle to prevent the goal. A few seconds later Betis got in some trouble with Feddal tackled near the by-line by Deulofeu. The winger cut inside, waited, then picked out Sergi Roberto arriving to slam home from eight yards.

Goal! Barcelona 2-0 Betis (Roberto, 38)

Betis almost equalise but don’t, and a moment later it’s probably game over.

Goal Messi collects the ball in a pocket of space and drives towards the box, Betis defenders backtracking. He slips a pass right for Deulofeu and goes for the return pass but never gets there, as the unfortunate Alin Tosca deflects the cross past his goalkeeper and into the corner.

Goal! Barcelona 1-0 Betis (Tosca og, 36)

The deadlock is broken.

34 min Beautifully struck by Messi, bending away from Adan and slamming halfway up the right post!

33 min Deulofeu shows a positive spark, driving into a gap in the box with his first touch and crossing low and hard, but Adan punches it clear. Busquets wins a foul a second later and Messi will have another chance from a set piece.

31 min Betis pass the ball into Barça’s half. Matías Nahuel almost pulls off a clever one-two with León, but Mascherano reads it and intercepts. “Do you thing Messi will show his visible frustration with his teammates?” emails Ruth Purdue. “Do you think he marched into the Manager’s/President’s office and demanded some signings?” A report I read a few hours ago said Messi’s representatives are in talks with Manchester City, such is his displeasure with the squad, which may or may not be true. But Barça is just not a very well run club at the moment and there’s no guarantee that money spent will actually mean improvements on the pitch.


28 min Brilliant by Joaquín. The 36-year-old plucks the ball out of the sky to lose Semedo before fizzing a pass to Sergio León breaking forwards. León turns this way and that but can’t get his shot off.

26 min Much of Barcelona’s lineup and bench is a who’s who of misfit signings. Alcácer, Roberto and Deulofeu are struggling to link effectively with Messi so far, though Betis deserve plenty of credit for that. Still Barça retain the ball but this time an aimless long pass returns to the ball to the visitors.

24 min This first moment of classic Barcelona football almost produces a typical Messi goal. Busquets roams out of his deeper role to work an intricate one-two with his captain before Messi bends a shot just wide from 18 yards.

21 min Not much is happening right now as Barcelona gently probe with very little joy. Betis will be pretty pleased; Setién seems to have got his team well organised.

18 min Pass, pass, pass... Betis are beginning to enjoy themselves at the Camp Nou, before a wayward Joaquín pass hands Barça a throw.

16 min Half a chance for Barcelona, but Deulofeu’s shot from eight yards is blocked.

15 min Alcácer pulls off a perfectly weighted flick with the outside of his boot into the path of Sergi Roberto, the best moment of the match so far. Betis harry around the midfielder and the move breaks down, but that was a lovely piece of skill.

13 min Messi bends the free-kick on to the roof of the net. Antonio Adan was beaten but it didn’t quite dip enough.

12 min Busquets drills a pass to Messi. He wriggles towards the box before being crowded out, but Betis still can’t get the ball off him and Nahuel concedes a free-kick. It’s in range.

11 min Barça are controlling the ball but without much penetration thus far. They probe down the left through Alba but he runs down a dead end and turns back. Next they work it back to Sergio Busquets, who takes a clobbering from Joaquín and goes for a roll on the floor. The replay shows an accidental stamp on his knee and Busquets jumps up soon enough. Messi tries to bend in the free-kick but it’s easily defended.

8 min Semedo brings the ball forward before misplacing a pass to Deulofeu and nudging it straight off the pitch. After that buildup.

7 min Nélson Semedo has settled into his Barcelona debut at right-back. The Portuguese defender cost nearly £30m from Benfica, which seemed like an awful lot at the beginning of the summer when he arrived yet not quite so anymore. It has been too long since Barça have had a solid, specialist right-back.

5 min Cristian Tello, by the way, whose return to the Camp Nou was expected tonight, was ruled out before kick-off with an ankle injury.

3 min The first chance of the game is created by Sergi Roberto, who picks out Deulofeu arriving at the back post but the winger can only stab the ball wide. He should really have done better. A moment later Messi has his first attempt of the season, jinking back on to his left foot on the edge of the box but curling over.

2 min Rakitic tries a thorough ball to Deulofeu but it’s a little overhit. The former Everton man has started on the right wing with Paco Alcácer on the left and Lionel Messi through the middle. It’s not exactly MSN.


Lionel Messi gets Barcelona’s La Liga season under way in a subdued Camp Nou, and they quickly advance down the left via Jordi Alba.

At the Camp Nou, the players are out. Both teams huddle together behind a board displaying the hashtag #TotsSomBarcelona for a photo, before a minute’s silence to remember the victims of Thursday’s attacks.

A general view inside Camp Nou before kick-off.
A general view inside Camp Nou before kick-off. Photograph: Sergio Perez/Reuters


Athletic Bilbao have spent the past couple of hours trying to bring down a Getafe wall which wouldn’t budge, and the game at San Mamés finished goalless. Real Madrid are still to come later tonight at Deportivo. Here’s more on the opening round of games in La Liga and beyond:


Barcelona Ter Stegen; Semedo, Mascherano, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Roberto; Alcácer, Deulofeu, Messi

Subs Cillessen, Piqué, D Suárez, Arda, Digne, Gomes, Vidal

Betis Adan; Barragan, Mandi, Feddal, Tosca; Guardado, Camarasa, Narváez, Joaquin, Nahuel; Sergio Leon

Subs Gimenez, Amat, Durmisi, Garcia, Fabian, Francis, Sanabria



Following Thursday’s attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, this is likely to be an emotional evening at the Camp Nou. A minute’s silence will be held before kick-off and Barça have been giving special permission by La Liga to wear shirts with #TotsSomBarcelona – we are all Barcelona – embroidered on the front, and ‘Barcelona’ on the back in place of the players’ names. “From our club we give our full support to the victims,” said the coach Ernesto Valverde yesterday. “It was a very tough day for everyone.”

For the team, football goes on and they begin a new season and a new managerial era at their lowest ebb for some while. Barça are still recovering from Neymar’s departure and the Super Cup pasting by Real Madrid – neither of which reflected well on Gerard Piqué. “In the nine years I’ve been here, it’s the first time I feel inferior to Madrid,” he admitted in defeat last week. If Valverde is the glass-half-full sort then he may at least take solace from the fact that things can only get better.

His squad is depleted this evening with Luis Suárez, Andrés Iniesta and Rafinha all unfit, while new singing Paulinho is unavailable due to a paperwork snag. At least Lionel Messi plays, and in one sense he does simplify things a little for the coach. “He is the best in the world, that’s the luck that we have. But all of us have to help him: we have to find a way of playing that allows him to shine.”

Betis have a new manager too – the 58-year-old former Las Palmas coach Quique Setién, who has overseen an extensive overhaul of the squad which finished 15th in La Liga last term. Their new £6.3m winger Ryad Boudebouz is still recovering from injury but Cristian Tello, who Barça sold to Betis this summer for £3m, is available. The winger returns to his home city still emerging from the shadow of the terrible events this week.

Kick-off 7.15pm BST, 8.15pm in Barcelona.