Barca suffer first defeat under Xavi as Betis snatch victory

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A surprise defeat at Camp Nou damages Barca’s bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League, four days before they attempt to avoid crashing out in the group stage of the current one. Barca have to win at Bayern Munich on Wednesday to be sure of going through.

This was hardly ideal preparation as a brilliant Betis counter-attack, finished by Juanmi in the 79th minute, consigned Barca to their fourth league defeat of the season and leaves them a daunting seven points behind the Champions League qualification places. Betis moved into third to continue their excellent start to the campaign. Barcelona stay seventh and will be 16 points behind leaders Real Madrid, if Madrid win at Real Sociedad later on Saturday.

Xavi had started with two wins out of two in La Liga but even he admitted the results owed a lot to good fortune, with Espanyol and then Villarreal guilty of squandering several chances. In between, a goalless draw at home to Benfica in the Champions League exposed Barcelona’s ongoing problems in front of goal and that was evident against Betis, who were relatively untroubled throughout.

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