Real Betis – Barcelona: Barcelona Clear Another Hurdle (1-2)
Real Betis and Barcelona have produced a glutton of goals in their latest clashes, but this fixture was an edgier contest. The league leaders allowed their hosts to make them sweat at the end but gained their due reward for their territorial and ball dominance in their pursuit of silverware.
Tactical analysis and match report by Emmanuel Adeyemi-Abere.
Barcelona are showing signs of reaping the rewards of their summer outlay. Robert Lewandowski has been out of action, but the defense has stood up to the test in the new year. Three clean sheets in a row in LaLiga have allowed the outfit to pull five points clear at the top of the standings over Real Madrid, whom they will face in the last four of the Copa del Rey. A statement 3-1 victory over their nemesis in the Supercopa final was yet another signal of intent upon which they look to build in this fixture.
On their way to the final, the Catalans edged past Real Betis: a club that has settled on the coattails of the elite under its current leader. Manuel Pellegrini has guided the Andalusians to the Europa League in both of his campaigns at the helm— and . . .