Evening all and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the La Liga clash between Barcelona
and Real Betis
from Camp Nou. Barca will be looking to bounce back from last week's shock defeat to Athletic Bilbao as they host Betis in their first home game of the 2019-20 La Liga campaign. Stay tuned for live minute-by-minute updates of the action!
BARCA: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Roberto; Perez, Griezmann, Rafinha
BETIS: Martin; Emerson, Bartra, Sidnei, Alfonso; Carvalho, Guardado; Fekir, Canales, Tello; Loren
Lionel Messi is not yet ready to return for Barca due to a calf problem, with the Argentine not in the squad. Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez are also on the sidelines, meaning that Antoine Griezmann
is joined by Carles Perez
and Rafinha as part of a front three. Sergio Busquets also returns to captain the team having been named on the bench against Bilbao, with Carles Alena left out.
As for Betis, Joel Robles is suspended following his red card against Valladolid last weekend while big-money arrival Borja Iglesias is out with an ankle problem. As expected, Loren is given the nod at centre-forward while Nabil Fekir
, Sergio Canales and Cristian Tello all start in what is an attacking side. Can Betis pull off a big result tonight?
scored late on as the champions suffered a 1-0 defeat at San Mames in their league opener, while Betis also lost their first match at home to Real Valladolid. Right, we are just about ready for kickoff at Camp Nou - let's hope for an entertaining game here!
KICKOFF: Barca kick things off on home soil...
... as expected, Barca have taken control of the early possession - but Betis are not setting up in a defensive shape. Indeed, it looks to be an attacking 4-2-3-1 with Canales just behind Loren. The visitors will fancy it tonight, which should mean a brilliant match.
Last season's 4-3 victory at Camp Nou proved to be the first time that Betis had won an away league game against Barca since May 1998. Not sure that we will get a 4-3 tonight but similar entertainment would be good. Barca continue to probe in the early moments.
No Messi, Luis Suarez or Dembele for Barca tonight, which means that there is big pressure on Griezmann to make things happen in the final third of the field. Not too much from the France international thus far despite the home side enjoying the ball.
Rafinha has a half-chance after being found by Jordi Alba
inside the Betis box - Marc Bartra is across to make a smart block, though, and the opportunity is gone.
CLOSE! Griezmann hits one from outside the Betis box but his effort was always moving wide. Better from Barca in terms of quick passing in the final third of the field.
Alba has probably been the home side's biggest threat in the first 10 minutes as he continues to make ground down the left. Not too much from Perez thus far.
Some of the football from Barca early on has been very good - it has just lacked that final pass at the correct moment. Valverde will be pleased, though, as his side are in control.
Barca have only lost one of the last 16 meetings between the two teams. However, Betis recorded a 4-3 victory in the corresponding match last term, and the visitors will feel that they have a huge chance tonight due to the players that the champions have unavailable.
CHANCE! Roberto arrives unmarked inside the Betis box to meet a cross from Alba - the midfielder gets his contact all wrong, though, and the away side survive a dangerous moment.
GOAL! BARCELONA 0-1 REAL BETIS (FEKIR)
Oh my word! Betis make the breakthrough in the 15th minute as Loren slides a pass into Fekir and the attacker finds the bottom corner with a wonderful finish. It was an excellent break from the visitors, who have silenced the home supporters tonight.
Messi is usually the player that takes the ball in tight areas in attempt to make things happen for Barca - that individual tonight is Griezmann but it has not quite happened for the attacker thus far. Barca really need someone to step forward in this match.
All Barca since the opening goal went in but Betis are comfortable. Roberto attempts to head back into a dangerous area following a quick corner. However, the danger is cleared.
Barca only had two shots on target in their loss at Bilbao last week, and it would be fair to say that it was an extremely lacklustre performance from the Catalan giants. The display has been better in the first 21 minutes here but Betis already have something to hold.
Pass, pass, pass from Barca as they attempt to work something in the final third. However, another attack comes to nothing with Roberto trying to force a pass that was not there.
Betis are working incredibly hard at the moment with Tello almost playing as an extra defender with the visitors looking to frustrate Barca. Messi and Luis Suarez are both sitting together watching on, and neither look to happy with what is happening here.
It is, of course, very early in the season, but if Barca lose tonight then they would already be six points off the top of the table. Still a long way to go in this match, though.
Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining and it is more of the same for Barca - possession without really threatening to score. Martin has been comfortable between the sticks, which is perhaps more of a concern than the home side falling one goal behind.
Barca need a lot more from Rafinha and Perez at the moment never mind Griezmann, who is yet to really ignite in a Barca shirt - this would be a very good time to start.
Wonderful feet from Fekir - and not the first time - as the Frenchman gets away from Busquets in the middle before being brought to the ground. Fekir has been excellent for Betis in the first 33 minutes of this match. His overall performance has been very good.
YELLOW CARD! Gerard Pique (Barcelona) is booked for a foul on Loren.
SAVE! Ter Stegen has to get down to keep out the resulting free kick from Fekir!
Rafinha goes to ground inside the penalty area and wants the decision but it was never close to being awarded. Perhaps a dive from the Brazil international. Betis then break down the other end with Emerson, whose cross is just too high for the waiting Loren.
It would certainly not be a surprise to see Barca score at least once tonight - Betis, though, are so dangerous on the break and will fancy their chances of netting a second.
Betis continue to defend their near post impressively with Bartra and Sidnei across time and time again to deal with crosses. Alba is the latest to deliver for the home side following an exchange between De Jong and Busquets but Bartra makes the block.
CHANCE! Huge chance for Barca to score as Alba finds Rafinha inside the Betis box - but the Brazilian's effort is deflected just wide of the post for a corner!
Vidal is already going through a fairly extensive warm-up on the side of the pitch. Could Valverde make a half-time change? Something needs to happen because Betis have been the better side in this first period in terms of goal threat and use of the ball.
GOAL! BARCELONA 1-1 REAL BETIS (GRIEZMANN)
Barca have lift-off here! Huge moment in this football game as Barca level the scores through Griezmann. It is Roberto with the assist as the Spaniard feeds a brilliant cross into Griezmann, who manages to poke the ball past the Betis goalkeeper for 1-1!
With respect to Betis, a lot of clubs bigger than them have been linked with Carvalho over the years. The midfielder is with the Seville outfit, though, and putting in another five-star performance tonight. He has arguably been the star for the visitors alongside Fekir.
CLOSE! Semedo delivers a dangerous cross into Perez at the far post but the youngster fails to make proper contact - Barca do win two corners in quick succession but Betis clear.
Barca are firmly putting the pressure on now, meaning that half-time will come at a very good time for Betis, who are just struggling to cope with the flow of traffic here.
HALF TIME: BARCELONA 1-1 REAL BETIS
So there we have it - the referee brings the first period to a close with the two teams level at 1-1. Betis took the lead in the 15th minute courtesy of a wonderful finish from Fekir, but Barca levelled late in the first period with Griezmann scoring his first goal for the club.
STATISTICS! Barca had 76% possession in the first period, while they managed nine attempts - just two of which were on target. Betis, meanwhile, hit the target with both of their attempts in the first 45. Just the one yellow here - Pique in the 32nd minute of the contest.
BENCH WATCH! Rakitic, Arthur and Vidal are the experienced options on the Barca bench tonight, and it will be very interesting to see how Valverde uses his bench as the second period develops here. Betis, meanwhile, have options in the shape of Juanmi, Joaquin and Kaptoum.
KICKOFF: Betis resume the action here...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not much of a surprise. However, you suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second half develops here.
SHOT! Half-chance for Barca to score a second as Perez breaks into a dangerous position - but the striker fires horribly wide of the post. Not been his night thus far!
GOAL! BARCELONA 2-1 REAL BETIS (GRIEZMANN)
GOAL! Griezmann steps forward once again! Barca needed a hero in the absence of Messi and Luis Suarez, and Griezmann has just scored a second. It is a wonderful curling finish from the France international, who picked out the bottom corner from a wide position!
Betis need to be careful that they do not concede a third during this period as Barca are really forcing the issue looking to grab another, which might well kill this as a contest.
Better from Betis in the last couple of minutes as, for the first time in this second period, they enjoy a bit of possession in the final third, taking the pressure off their defence.
CLOSE! Perez just misses the bottom corner with a powerful strike!
GOAL! BARCELONA 3-1 REAL BETIS (PEREZ)
GOAL! There is the third! Barca take a huge step towards winning this game as Perez makes it 3-1 to the home side. Semedo delivers a pass to the edge of the box and Perez settles before finding the bottom corner - it is terrific from the 21-year-old!
It is a long way back for Betis now, and Barca seem to want more as they continue to charge forward. This would be a huge win for the champions under the circumstances.
GOAL! BARCELONA 4-1 REAL BETIS (ALBA)
GOAL! Betis have fallen apart at the back! Barca score their fourth of the match as Busquets slides a low pass into Alba, who manages to squeeze one into the back of the net!
GOAL! REAL BETIS SUBS! Joaquin and Kaptoum replace Guardado and Tello here.
Not too much happening for Betis at the moment - the visitors look shell-shocked after what has happened in the early stages of the second period. It will be tough to take.
Betis have the chance to threaten from a free kick in a decent area - Joaquin delivers into the penalty box but Pique makes the clearance. Little over 25 minutes to play here.
No movement on the Barca bench at the moment, although we are entering the stage of the match where Valverde will just be thinking about freshening up his side here.
Little over 20 minutes of the second period remaining, and not too much is happening at the moment. Barca killed the match early in the second half with some excellent goals.
Busquets has hit the ground in the middle of the park, and it would not be a surprise to see the Spain international replaced here as he does not look too pleased.
Busquets actually injured himself making a challenge. Looks to be an impact injury rather than a pull but surely no risks will be taken with the home side 4-1 ahead.
BARCELONA SUB! Indeed, the change is made with Vidal taking the place of Busquets for the final 15 minutes of this football match. No surprises there.
REAL BETIS SUB! Betis now make their third and final change of the night with Lainez entering the field for Canales, who has faded in the second period.
GOAL! BARCELONA 5-1 REAL BETIS (VIDAL)
GOAL! Some introduction! Vidal has not been on the field for long but the Chile international has just made it 5-1! Griezmann provides the assist with the Frenchman doing well to slide a pass into the South American, who finds the top corner with a wonder goal!
BARCELONA SUB! Perez is replaced by 16-year-old Fati.
GOAL! BARCELONA 5-2 REAL BETIS (LOREN)
GOAL! It is raining goals! Betis have their second of the match as Loren picks out the top corner with a quite stunning hit from outside the box. What a super strike that is!
BARCELONA SUB! Junior replaces Rafinha for the home side.
Hardly time to take a breath in the last couple of minutes - after a quiet period the match has exploded once again, and there is still time for more goals late on here.
Little over five minutes of the second half remaining, and things have just settled a touch following those two goals. What a brilliant game of football it has been.
SAVE! Decent save from Ter Stegen down low to keep out a strike from Pedraza.
Messi and Luis Suarez were pictured frowning earlier in the match when Betis were leading but that is not the case now. Both are wearing smiles as the final whistle draws closer.
CLOSE! Fati just misses the post with a strike from a wide angle - what a moment that would have been for the 16-year-old on his debut. He already looks a player to be honest.
Ter Stegen has just turned inside his own box under pressure from two players - fair enough! Not long left here and the fourth official will soon signal the stoppage time.
YELLOW CARD! Carvalho (Real Betis) is booked for a foul on Roberto.
We are into the second of three minutes of additional time here.
SAVE! Griezmann passes up the chance to score his hat-trick as the Frenchman is denied by Martin from close range! It is a save that the goalkeeper would have expected to make.
FULL TIME: BARCELONA 5-2 REAL BETIS
So there we have it - the referee brings the second period to a close with Barca running out 5-2 winners over Real Betis on home soil. What a game of football - excellent entertainment here. Barca are firmly back to winning ways after losing to Bilbao last week.
That is just about it from me tonight, but I shall leave you with the match report
from what was an excellent game of football. Be sure to join us again soon - see you next time!