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Real Betis v Barcelona Live Commentary, 21/01/2018

FT
0 - 5
BET
BAR
I. Rakitić (59)
L. Messi (64)
L. Suárez (69)
L. Messi (80)
L. Suárez (89)
Estadio Benito Villamarín

Commentary

That's all from this one. Thanks for joining us and, until next time, goodbye!
Barca are 11 points clear at the top of LaLiga. Betis fought hard for an hour, but they simply could not contain Valverde's magnificent side.
There is not much that can be done when Barcelona turn it on like that. Rakitic found the breakthrough after a difficult first half and then Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi took over, dazzling and each scoring twice.
FULL-TIME: Real Betis 0 Barcelona 5.
Messi and Luis Suarez are both on a hat-trick now and, as we head into two minutes of added time, there are chances for both. Luis Suarez could shoot but tees up Messi, who goes down. No foul. Betis escape.
L. Messi
Assist
Barcelona
Roberto won the ball for Messi and he again tore through the home back line to tee up his strike partner. Unstoppable.
L. Suárez
Goal
Barcelona
GOAL! Did we say Messi was quiet in the first half? Luis Suarez, too? They have not been since the break, that's for sure. The former tees up the latter to rattle a finish high into the net. A rout. 0-5.
Camarasa
Fabián Ruiz
Real Betis
SUB! Victor Camarasa is on for Ruiz as Betis look to see out the closing minutes.
SAVE! Some magical Messi dribbling pushes Betis back again. Barca ping passes forwards and backwards and Alba then nods into the path of Luis Suarez. He does not catch this one as sweetly as he did for the goal and Adan claims.
Pique is dashing forward now and there is no end to Barca's attacking ambition. The clock makes kind reading for Betis, who will want this game to end quickly.
SAVE! Adan makes a save this time. Messi jinks into the area and tees up Paulinho, but the shot is tame and poor.
CHANCE! How have Barca not added a fifth? Messi and Alba lead yet another counter and Luis Suarez crosses. The ball is nodded back across goal and Deulofeu somehow fails to make contact with Adan beaten. This could get embarrassing for Betis.
OVER! Betis' attacking play is a little tired now. Boudebouz lashes over the top.
Deulofeu
Sergio Busquets
Barcelona
SUB! Barca are not done just yet. Gerard Deulofeu - another attacker - is on for Sergio Busquets.
L. Suárez
Assist
Barcelona
Feddal - at fault for Messi's first goal - gifted the ball to Luis Suarez, who drilled a glorious pass in to Messi. There was no recovering then for the hosts.
L. Messi
Goal
Barcelona
GOAL! Pure class from Messi! Barca counter and their number 10 easily shakes off the attention of two Betis defenders to slip a finish past Adan. Simple, yet brilliant. 0-4.
Paulinho shows a lovely touch to beat a man and lay the ball off for Messi. He chases after the subsequent lofted pass, too, but Adan is there first.
R. Boudebouz
Javi García
Real Betis
SUB! The game is gone, but this is an attacking Betis change. Ryad Boudebouz replaces Javi Garcia.
OVER! Messi runs at goal from the left and lets fly, but his shot sails over the top.
If there's to be another goal in this game, the likelihood is it will again be Barca's. The league leaders are oozing class as they probe in the final third.
Rubén Castro
Sergio León
Real Betis
SUB! Leon worked hard for Betis in the first half, but he has not had a kick since the break. He is replaced by Ruben Castro.
I. Rakitić
Assist
Barcelona
Rakitic returned the favour for Luis Suarez - who teed up his goal - with a measured cross following Messi's run and pass.
L. Suárez
Goal
Barcelona
GOAL! And sure enough, Barca's relentless running forces an error and leads to another attack. In comes the cross and Luis Suarez thumps a volley into the bottom-right corner. Now he has his goal. 0-3.
To Betis' credit, they still insist on playing the ball out from the back. That looks like costing them every time they lose possession, though...
Z. Feddal
Yellow Card
Real Betis
YELLOW! And Feddal is also punished for the clash, to the home fans' frustration.
L. Suárez
Yellow Card
Barcelona
YELLOW! Luis Suarez is not yet on the scoresheet, but he is in the book. He tussles with Feddal and draws the ire of the referee.
Paulinho
André Gomes
Barcelona
SUB! And it's not going to get any easier for Betis. On comes Paulinho, for Andre Gomes.
Sergio Busquets
Assist
Barcelona
It was awful defending from Betis who, after losing possession, still had Feddal ambling forward as Sergio Busquets slipped a pass through to the unmarked Messi.
L. Messi
Goal
Barcelona
GOAL! That should be that! Messi, onside and in all kinds of space, lashes past Adan. 0-2.
The hosts want a handball from the following set-piece, but the appeals are muted and quickly subside. That looked a little optimistic.
Betis respond well and Ruiz sets up Francis for the cross. Pique stoops in front of Joaquin to concede a corner.
L. Suárez
Assist
Barcelona
Betis had retreated somewhat since holding an early high line, but they were caught too far upfield as Luis Suarez spotted Rakitic's dash.
I. Rakitić
Goal
Barcelona
GOAL! Barca have their breakthrough! Rakitic runs through from deep and slides a finish beyond Adan. Betis are undone. 0-1.
This is more like the Barca we know. They are making shapes in the final third and the Betis defence is pulled back and forth. Roberto delivers low from Messi's pass and the hosts scramble to clear. It remains tight.
SAVE! A fumble from Ter Stegen, but that shot never looked like creeping in. It was well struck by Ruiz, though.
Now superb defending from Nelson Semedo at the other end! Betis counter through Joaquin, Leon and then Tello. The former Barca man looks to get beyond the full back, though, and a last ditch challenge stops him in his tracks.
Barca are patient in their build-up play, with Nelson Semedo repeatedly refusing to hurl a cross in, and the full back eventually forces a corner.
There is a roar of frustration as a fine Betis move forces Umtiti to concede a throw on the left - only for the linesman to give the decision the other way. Barca attack, but Messi's final ball lets him down. The Argentine star has been very quiet.
R. Durmisi
Yellow Card
Real Betis
YELLOW! Durmisi commits a blatant foul, hacking down the rampant Roberto. Booking.
Betis look to have forged a real opening on the left but Tello overhits his pass through to Durmisi. The onrushing full back manages to deliver a cross, but he cannot pick out a team-mate. Ruiz's cross is cleared, too.
Despite the urgency in both sides' play following the restart, this game has not improved just yet. The press at either end of the pitch is strangling the play.
Luis Suarez and that offside flag. He's caught out once again as Barca break. Betis have looked to kick on again at the start of this second half.
KICK-OFF: We are back under way and Barca have the ball.
Here come the teams again!
We will have all the second half action shortly...
Well this has been dull. Who saw that coming? There's plenty of energy and enthusiasm but little quality. Barca are just about on top, but the game remains goalless.
HALF-TIME: Real Betis 0 Barcelona 0.
SAVE! And a routine stop follows at the other end. Sergio Busquets' strike is low and hard but far too central.
SAVE! Ruiz pushes on down the right but a tame shot is easily held by Ter Stegen.
There will be two minutes of additional time at the end of this half as Betis come forward again...
Well played, Adan! Messi teases a pass through and Andre Gomes is chasing. He looks set to get there, but the goalkeeper intercepts.
That injury has disrupted Barca's rhythm and they are living dangerously at the back. Francis dashes towards Alba in an attempt to steal possession, but the visiting defender is there first and rides the foul.
S. Umtiti
T. Vermaelen
Barcelona
SUB! And finally Umtiti is on. He slots in next to Gerard Pique.
Betis cannot take advantage as Barca are down to 10 - Vermaelen having disappeared down the tunnel - and Alba's interception prompts a Barca break. Luis Suarez is fouled, but still Umtiti continues to warm up.
Vermaelen will have to go off here. He was nowhere near Leon and could not keep up the chase after reaching for his leg. Samuel Umtiti is at least fit again for Barca.
Ter Stegen to the rescue! Messi gifts possession away and Betis break. Leon knocks the ball past Vermaelen and the Barca man pulls up. A dangerous cross from the home forward is cut out by the goalkeeper.
It's a tight offside for Luis Suarez - he is marginally off - and the forward is not happy with the officials. The Uruguayan had been destined for Messi's cute through ball.
Andre Gomes is toeing a fine line. He has been cautioned for one off-the-ball clash and he now shoves Francis again to halt a Barca attack. Without that intervention, the visitors were in on the left with Rakitic.
Betis' attacking momentum has slowed considerably, but Barca are enjoying no luck at the other end. The goals we thought were guaranteed have not even threatened to come.
Barca attack again. Messi goes wide to Nelson Semedo, but there is no-one in the middle to meet the pull back. Frustration for the visitors.
CLOSE! Typically, the next chance is Messi's. Roberto races away from the Betis midfield and tees up Luis Suarez. The pass in towards Messi is measured, but the finish flashes past the left-hand post.
Betis have done a wonderful job of keeping Messi quiet. He dances away from a couple of challenges, but then Luis Suarez is challenged and Rakitic's pass runs out of play.
There is a short stoppage as Mandi requires treatment, having gone down in the centre of the pitch.
SAVE! Clumsy, brilliant defending from Feddal - who stumbles, but stays on his feet and alert - hinders a Barca break, before Rakitic hammers a strike straight at Adan.
CHANCE! Lovely play from Roberto and Luis Suarez. The former plays a pass into the latter, who slips a return ball back inside. Roberto shimmies into space and lashes over the top. Not a clear opening as such, but much, much better from Barca.
A quick take and Messi picks out Alba. A dangerous centre is fumbled but then gathered by Adan. Relief for Betis.
We are still waiting on a first real chance and the game has become a little scrappy. Mandi clatters Luis Suarez and Barca can build from a free-kick.
André Gomes
Yellow Card
Barcelona
YELLOW! Andre Gomes lacks the pace to get away from Francis and then throws an arm in the Betis man's direction. He goes into the book.
Betis do enjoy some possession, but it is Joaquin of all people who cheaply gifts the ball back to Barca. The hosts have at least forced the league leaders back towards their own goal once more.
Barca are now in complete control of the possession, but Betis have reverted to the back three used against Leganes and there looks to be no way through for the visitors at the moment.
Roberto takes possession from Andre Gomes on the edge of the area and he has Barca's two forwards ahead of him. Luis Suarez splinters out to the left and he is found, but the attempted cross is easily blocked. Disappointing.
And now a first clattering for Messi. The hallmarks of a Barca performance are slowly but surely emerging.
WIDE! Is that Barca's first effort? It's not one they will remember fondly. Nelson Semedo slices well off target as he gallops forward on the right.
The styles of the two sides without the ball are somewhat similar, with Betis, like Barca, standing forwards on the toes of each defender. There is no option to play out from the back without running into trouble.
OVER! Luis Suarez digs a smart pass out and Messi enjoys a rare touch. Betis have players across the width of the pitch, however, and a dwindling attack is countered swiftly. Leon cannot pick out a team-mate and the eventual Joaquin effort from a cross is over.
A sloppy Ruiz pass allows Barca to ping the ball back and forth and form a breakaway. The one-paced Andre Gomes is the man tasked with carrying the ball forward, though, and Betis get men back.
Joaquin is floating in from the left and Barca are struggling to get to grips with the veteran. He is well aided by Durmisi's energetic running on the outside.
There is variety to the Betis attack, too. A long, searching ball almost picks out Cristian Tello, but Jordi Alba is there to nod back to Andre ter Stegen.
Betis force a corner on the left and they want a second set-piece when Joaquin's low delivery is turned behind. The referee adjudges that Leon was the man who got the last touch.
It is easy to see why there are plenty of goals when Betis play. They attack well, but the hosts' defensive line is dangerously high. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are situated on the shoulder of the last defender - which is somewhere around the halfway line.
Barca will keep pushing, though. Antonio Adan almost gifted an opportunity to the visitors with a risky pass out from the back, encouraging Valverde's men to redouble their efforts.
CLOSE! A lovely ball wide from Fabian Ruiz allows Riza Durmisi to bring the ball forward on the left and cross. Barca struggle to clear and Andres Guardado hammers narrowly wide from 20 yards.
Betis are expected to attack here and they have certainly set their stall out to do that. Barca push forward, but the home side will not be harried easily.
The hosts effectively keep the ball for the first 55 seconds, drawing warm applause, but Ivan Rakitic - a former Sevilla man - nips in and Barca can settle now.
KICK-OFF: Betis' Sergio Leon gets us under way. Off we go!
As one would image, there is a raucous crowd in the house for this one. The players have shaken hands and we are now just moments away from kick-off.
The teams are in the tunnel in Seville. Can the visitors take another big step towards the league title?
Valverde's side were 2-0 winners in the reverse fixture at Camp Nou on the opening day of the league season in August. Two quickfire efforts - an Alin Tosca own goal and Sergi Roberto's strike - secured the points before half-time. Barca have not looked back since...
Aissa Mandi and Zouhair Feddal come into the side for Betis, who defeated Leganes 3-2 last time out in LaLiga. There are six changes to the Barca team beaten at Espanyol, meanwhile, with Luis Suarez the most notable recall.
Subs: Cillessen, Paulinho, Deulofeu, Digne, Vidal, Umtiti, Alena.
Barcelona (4-4-2): Ter Stegen, Nelson Semedo, Pique, Vermaelen, Alba, Roberto, Sergio Busquets, Andre Gomes, Rakitic, Messi, Luis Suarez.
Subs: Gimenez, Amat, Camarasa, Boudebouz, Tosca, Castro, Juanjo Narvaez.
Real Betis (4-1-4-1): Adan, Francis, Mandi, Feddal, Durmisi, Javi Garcia, Joaquin, Ruiz, Guardado, Tello, Leon.
We know that Barca are without Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho, but Valverde has a handy cast available to him. Let's get the team news...
Today's hosts still have a negative goal difference, however. Their games - including a 6-3, a 4-4 and a 5-3 - are statistically the most entertaining in the division. For the neutral, this should - hopefully - be a cracker.
Betis are a tricky, unpredictable customer, though. They won at rivals Sevilla earlier this month, while only Barca and Valencia have scored more in LaLiga this term.
Barca slipped up against Espanyol in the Copa del Rey in midweek, but title rivals Atletico Madrid and Valencia both dropped points yesterday and Ernesto Valverde's men can now stretch their lead at the top of the league table to 11 points with a win here.
Hello and welcome to our live text commentary as Real Betis welcome Barcelona to Benito Villamarin in LaLiga!