Barcelona have fallen to Real Betis at the Camp Nou, losing 4-3 to the visiting side on Sunday after a very poor defensive showing.
The return of Lionel Messi was expected to leave have Barca coasting through this one. But the league title holders were made to sweat just to get a foothold, with the visitors showing little fear as they took the game to their hosts.
Junior Firpo is completely lonely on the left too often. Rakitic is forced to move in to prevent numerical superiority for Betis in central areas while Loren occupies Sergi by going out wide. Huge spaces to work with for the youngster.— Marcus (@MarcusBr22) November 11, 2018
Junior Firpo put Betis ahead in the 20th minute, shocking Ernesto Valverde and his troops. And, 14 minutes later, it was 2-0, with Joaquin doubling the lead.
Messi's second-half penalty got La Blaugrana back in the game. But Giovani Lo Celso handed his side a 3-1 lead just three minutes later, helped on by a surprising error from Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Arturo Vidal gave Barca a second after Munir El Haddadi laid it off to him at the end of a counter. But things would keep getting worse as Ivan Rakitic got sent off after two yellows, with nine minutes to go, and Firpo getting a second to change the score to 4-2.
Another goal from Messi made it 4-3 nearing the end. But there would be no more to come from the Spanish giants, who will now have to go through a frustrating international break before they get the chance to return to winning ways.
Below is our breakdown of the match:
Key Talking Point
Ter Stegen's mistake in the second half came just after Barcelona started growing into the game and the timing couldn't have been worse.
It seemed a routine and easy save for the stopper. But he somehow managed to let it slip through his hands to allow Betis a third.
The German's body shape was really strange as he did not stand as tall as he could have, sticking his backside out and throwing his hands up rather weakly.
Ter Stegen has to be joking— Baseball Fan Account (@matiwod) November 11, 2018
The keeper shouldn't take all of the blame, though. Barca were really a shambles all over defensively and really deserved to lose this one after such a performance.
Starting XI: Ter Stegen (4); Roberto (5), Piqué (4), Lenglet (6), Alba (6); Rakitic (4), Busquets (5), Arthur (6); Messi (8), Suárez (7), Malcom (6)
Substitutes: Cillessen, Semedo, Umtiti, Vidal (8), Aleñá (6), Denis, Munir (7)
Star Man - Leo Messi
The Argentinian is barely back from a bad injury, having suffered a broken arm last month, and already he has two more goals under his belt.
Messi was very creative when on the ball and pulled one back for his side from the penalty spot. He also scored their third goal, walking it in after Vidal's pass across the box to cut Betis' lead to a single goal.
Unfortunately, he wasn't able to help Barca come out on top but he was definitely their best player on the pitch.
Worst Player - Gerard Pique
Was a total mess defensively. But, even more so, probably prevented his side from getting a point after missing a close-range header with two minutes to go.
Even more frustratingly, Barca would have had their goal if he had just left the ball alone as Vidal was waiting to direct it into the back of the net before having it taken off him.
This is not the kind of result Barcelona would have wanted ahead of their trip to the Wanda Metropolitano to play Atletico Madrid.
And, with an international break to be slotted in prior to that, it could also end up working against them.