Real Betis 0-5 Barcelona: La Liga –as it happened

Thanks for joining me.

It really was a great pleasure to watch Messi in this type of form, he really was unstoppable tonight. No one will be catching Barcelona this season, it would seem and rightly so, based on this performance.

Full-time: Real Betis 0-5 Barcelona

Once the first goal went in after the break, it was all very easy for Barcelona. Betis gave as good as they got in the first-half but the second was a different story as Messi had one of his better games, which is saying something, leading the way against a team who could not cope with his magical feet.

GOAL! More majestic work from Messi who dribbles into the box, defeating four Betis players in the process and Suarez takes full advantage by curling the ball into the top corner after his colleague had laid it off.

GOAL! Real Betis 0-5 Barcelona (Suarez, 90)

Suarez strokes it home!

89 min: All a bit of a procession now. Many fans have left and the others have stayed to see what else Messi does in the embers of this game.

86 min: Messi gets a round of applause from the entire stadium by dribbling past three Betis players near his own penalty area. I also stood up in the office and applauded. Nick Miller stayed seated.

84 min: Messi does some delightful wizardry by bamboozling two defenders with his feet in the box. Francis just holds onto him in the out, one assumes out of affection, it should have been a penalty but the referee took pity.

83 min: It should have been five as Suarez dinks a cross to Sergi Roberto at the back post who heads the ball back across goal but an onrushing Deulofeu fails to connect from a yard out.

Nigel emails in about Suarez.

“Hi Will, do you think that it took some time to figure out how to play without Neymar?
just a thought.”

He looked more frustrated with himself rather than other people when he was out of form. But maybe that frustration was created by Deulofeu not being as good as Neymar.

GOAL! Feddal gives the ball away allowing Suarez to send the ball to Messi who cuts in from the right, round two defenders and then calmly rolls the ball past Adan who had no answer. All very simple. Busquets off, Deulofeu on.

GOAL! Real Betis 0-4 Barcelona (Messi, 80)

Another for Messi!

Kiss the goals

Ivan Rakitic celebrates scoring the first goal
Ivan Rakitic celebrates scoring the first goal Photograph: Jon Nazca/Reuters

77 min: We’re down to testimonial tempo now. Not much more to see here. Oh wait...Boudebouz is coming on for Garcia, so that’s almost an attacking move. Game on!

75 min: The pace has dropped now that Barcelona are out of sight. Boudebouz is set to come on for Betis, which you’ll be pleased to know.

73 min: Betis have a plan...they’re bring on Ruben Casto for Sergio Leon, so it’s like for like. I’m not sure they’re going for a draw.

GOAL! Barcelona have sealed the deal as Rakitic picks up the ball from Messi and crosses it in for Suarez to slam home a hip-high volley into the corner from 12 yards. He didn’t have the greatest start to the season but he has scored nine in his last seven appearances now.

GOAL! Real Betis 0-3 Barcelona (Suarez, 69)

A stunning volley from Suarez.

67 min: Suarez and Feddal tangle in the area and then there is some afters which they both go into the book for. In the aftermath, a lighter is thrown onto the pitch and it is subsequently handed over to officials.

He knows his enemy.

66 min: Pualinho is now on for Gomes, which is good news for fans of the Brazilian.

GOAL! Betis are caught playing out of the back as Busquets dispossesses Fabian and passes through to Messi who is just onside, allowing the Argentine to ruthlessly smash one in!

GOAL! Real Betis 0-2 Barcelona (Messi, 64)

Messi smashes it in!

63 min: Guardado swings in a free-kick from the left but it’s a simple catch for Ter Stegen. He starts a counter attack but it ends with Gomes being offside.

GOAL! Former Sevilla man Rakitic runs into space and Suarez spots him so sends a perfect through ball for the Croatian to run onto and then calmly place beyond Adan with his left foot.

GOAL! Real Betis 0-1 Barcelona (Rakitic, 59)

Rakitic calmly slots in the opener.

57 min: Fabian gets the ball 20 yards from goal and runs into the area in order to fire in a left-footed strike but it’s straight at Ter Stegen who grabs it as the second attempt.

56 min: Substitute Umtiti is now down on the ground after clashing with Guardado. Looks like the defender was caught by the Mexican’s shoulder.

54 min: Barcelona have the ball on the edge of the area for a sustained period but can’t find the opening and, in the end, Semedo has a weak cross cleared for a corner.

53 min: The crowd get angry after Barcelona are awarded a throw when it looked like Umtiti had just kicked it out of play. The visitors then break through Messi but his cross is blocked back to the goalkeeper.

51 min: Durmisi goes in the book after he’s rolled by Sergi Roberto but he gets his own back by kicking him in the leg to take him.

49 min: The good news is the fans are still making noise but the game has not picked up much. So let’s just hope the home support gets everyone going.

47 min: Suarez is very very angry with the assistant after he is adjudged to be offside. The Uruguayan claims he was in his own half but everyone ignores him as he jumps up and down.

Kick-off: Real Betis 0-0 Barcelona

Peep peep! Please be a bit more exciting.

The players are in the tunnel. Messi is doing in his laces, which seems like a sensible idea.

The big numbers.

If you like your Cruyff era Barcelona...

Mark’s emailed in:

“I watched Iniesta’s passes to Leo glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like my goals in vain. Time to transfer to China.”

Half-time: Real Betis 0-0 Barcelona

It’s been an intriguing half with both teams playing pretty similar styles but neither side have done anything to test the opposition goalkeeper. It will surely get better after the break. Surely!

Paul has emailed about Rakitic’s hair...

“Its Rutger Hauer blonde.”

44 min: If you like your challenges late, then Francis has just impressed you as he catches Jordi Alba after the player has sent a long ball down the pitch.

42 min: Umtiti is still warming up. Barcelona don’t seem to bothered about playing with 11. Now Messi is hurt after a knee to the head.

40 min: The returning Umtiti is coming on for poor, old Vermaelen. Thanks for coming, Thomas.

39 mins: Thomas Vermaelen is once again injured. But what a run he’s had without being crocked. The Belgian pulled up as Betis broke on Barcelona. Looks like he’s coming off.

38 min: Not even at half-time and we’re already discussing hair colour. But do not panic everyone, there will be goals, probably, maybe. There will be a shot.

Sid asks the big question:

36 min: Neither team massively bothered about winning this as Barcelona are miles ahead in the league and Betis content in mid-table, leading to a relatively cautious game.

34 min: Neither team is really on top here. Betis are looking good in the build-up but their final ball is generally going nowhere, which is unfortunate.

31 min: Sergi Roberto leads the charge before giving the ball to Suarez, from where the Uruguayan plays through Messi on the overlap but the No10 hits the ball into the side-netting.

30 min: Barcelona are happy to keep things quiet for now, as Betis look hopeful doing them on the counter-attack. The visitors are not helped by Ter Stegen repeatedly kicking it at Betis players.

28 min: Mandi is down due to a problem with his left knee. They are giving him the magic spray so he will surely be fine now.

27 min: Messi picks up a loose ball on the edge of the area and quickly finds Rakitic who smashes one from 25 yards out but it’s straight at Adan. At least it’s a shot on target!

26 min: Sergi Roberto does some great marauding which sees him play the ball into Suarez who lays it back to the midfielder who hits one over when stretching from 15 yards.

24 mins: Suarez has his first opportunity to go down but he was fouled by Mandi who completely went through the Uruguayan. He was lucky to get away without a booking.

23 min: As Jonathan Wilson will tell you: “Goals are overrated.”

Which is good news as neither team has looked like scoring so far but it’s been enjoyable for all.

21 min: Gomes fouls Francis for a second time and is booked on this occasion for sticking his arm into the full-back’s chest.

20 min: Both teams biding their time on the ball as they look to find the odd gap but no such space has been found so far. All quiet in Seville (on the pitch).

18 min: Sergi Roberto tries to get beyond Joaquin but the experienced winger tops him in his tracks by fouling him. Still not much to report.

16 min: Some casual build-up play from Barcelona ends with Suarez trying to put in a cross which is blocked by the first man. All quite tame currently.

Barcelona’s Messi, left, and Betis’ Fabian, centre, fight for the ball.
Barcelona’s Messi, left, and Betis’ Fabian, centre, fight for the ball. Photograph: Miguel Morenatti/AP

14 min: This seems to be two identical teams playing against each, both are pressing high and also wanting to break. Could be a fascinating 90 minutes.

12 min: Durmisi swings in a cross from the left and Joaquin manages to get a half-volley off but it flashes just over the bar from 15 yards.

10 min: Barcelona break from the back but sadly the ball ends up with Andre Gomes who was the man trying to lead them up the pitch and he’s really slow so he was quickly caught.

8 min: Betis and Barcelona both like playing out from the back, so it will be interesting to see who can make the most of the possession in defence.

6 min: Andre Gomes has done something, sadly it was just fouling Francis on the touchline. Referee just gives the Barcelona man a talking to.

5 min: Not much to report but Nick Miller has arrived with an orange juice for me, so it’s going well.

3 min: Guardado wins the ball from Sergi Roberto 25 yards from goal and fires a left-footed shot just beyond the post.

2 min: It’s been an opening two minutes of each team getting a good spell of possession as they both feel their way into the game. The big question is whether the fans can keep the noise up for 90 minutes.

Kick-off!

Peep peep! Let’s get ready to rumble!!!!

Thomas Vermaelen has never lost a league game as a Barcelona player. What a man!

The chants of “Betis” might even intimidate the Barcelona team they’re so loud! You’ve got to love an atmosphere like this.

Poor Mark is on a diet.

He emailed in to say:”...it was my go-to meal, a big plate of steamed broccoli with a slice of turkey ham in pieces on top of the florets. 250 calories and fills you up nicely. Luckily, I love broccoli.

“|There you go, too much information. Leo hat-trick, please.”

The players are in the tunnel. And the ground is absolutely packed, so it should make it a great night in Seville.

Because I am young and modern, I know about emojis, so I believe this is an indication that Andre Gomes ain’t no good.

Andre Gomes is starting over Paulinho today, which is somewhat surprising as the Brazilian has been very good this season, whereas the Portuguese has been quite mediocre for a while. Will this be his time to shine? Probably not.

Ronaldinho retired this week. It’s probably worth remembering how good he was...

Javi Garcia is in the Betis midfield, which is great news for all and sundry. He was a poor man’s Nigel de Jong at Manchester City but he was better than many who followed. But is he the man to halt Messi?

Time to get warm...

Barcelona have already won the league* but they did lose in the first leg of the Copa del Rey to Espanyol, so it’s not all rosy at the Nou Camp. The second leg is coming up on Thursday but Valverde is not too concerned.

“The players won’t be distracted by the second leg against Espanyol next Thursday. Ultimately, LaLiga is the competition that they are always most strongly focused on,” Valverde said.

“The idea is to keep this winning dynamic going and to do as well as we did in the first half of the season. But Betis will not be an easy opponent to start against.

“Betis like to get the ball into the opposition’s half, and try to dominate possession. So one of the keys to the game will be dealing with the pressure that they create. It’s going to be an interesting, difficult encounter.”

*Come on now, they will win

My Sunday dinner consists of a chicken sandwich with roast peppers, lettuce and some Sriracha mayo. How’s your day gone in terms of food?

Barcelona to win?

You can all send in your correspondence to the above addresses/handles

Last week Barcelona went 2-0 down but thought back to win 4-2, proving, once again, they can be victorious from any position, however perilous it may look. It also helps to have Messi and and in-form Luis Suarez in the team.

Betis are on a good run having three of their last four league games, seeing them move up to eighth, which manager Quique Setien believes takes the pressure of his side somewhat.

“It is true that we are at a time when we are all very even in the intermediate zone of the table, a victory or a defeat will raise many positions or take them away,” Setien said.

“Our situation right now is one of confidence and optimism, we are facing this game at a good time that will allow us to take on everything we do and hope with great confidence, we will be brave because we have to be.”

There’s a new Spaniard in the Premier League as Javi Gracia takes over at Watford.

Here is Nick Ames AND Simon Burnton on what he needs to do there.

No Coutinho just yet but Valverde thinks he’ll be ready quite soon.

“I’m reluctant to put an exact date on a start for Coutinho, but the progress of the injury is very positive. He had a small muscular problem in his quadriceps which is a particularly sensitive zone when striking the ball with power, but I hope he’s soon with us,” Valverde said in his pre-match press conference.

“Thursday is possible and I hope that today he can train with the rest of the squad.”

Starting line-ups: Real Betis v Barcelona

Real Betis: Adán, Francis, Feddal, Mandi, Durmisi, Fabián, Javi García, Guardado, Joaquín, Sergio León, Tello.

Subs: Gimenez, Jordi Amat, Tosca, Camarasa, Narvaez, Boudebouz, Ruben Castro

Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Vermaelen, Jordi Alba, Rakitic, Busquets, Gomes, Sergi Roberto, Messi, Suarez.

Subs: Cillessen, Paulinho, Digne, Umtiti, Aleñá, Vidal, Deulofeu.

Preamble

Will will be here shortly.