Sergio Busquets

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La Liga roundup: Messi fuels Barcelona win over Real Betis (video)

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Lionel Messi’s genius in Barcelona’s win over Real Betis highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Betis 2-3 Barcelona

Lionel Messi assisted three times on Sunday in Quique Setien’s anticipated return to the Estadio Benito Villamarin, as Barcelona edged Real Betis 3-2.

The victory marks Barcelona’s second consecutive league win, who remain three points behind league leaders – and winners on Sunday – Real Madrid.

The match got off to a burning start as Sergio Canales converted from the spot six minutes in after a handball was called by VAR on Clément Lenglet, who wound up exiting the pitch after cumulated yellow cards in the 79th minute.

Just three minutes later, Frenkie de Jong canceled out Betis’ lead with a delicate finish of his own. Nabil Fekir, however, would put the home side up with a long-range shot in the 26th minute. Setien’s return to Seville was off to a rocky start.

Like in many cases in the past, Messi’s dominance would wind up saving Barcelona.

The Argentine’s desperate ball into the box was pushed in by Sergio Busquets in the final seconds of the first half, while his lofting cross was met by Lenglet’s well-placed header in the second half to give the Blaugrana the much-needed victory.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Espanyol 1-0 Mallorca

Real Sociedad 1-0 Athletic Bilbao

Osasuna 1-4 Real Madrid 

Celta Vigo 2-1 Sevilla

La Liga roundup: Messi scores, wins game in Setien’s Barcelona debut (video)

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Barcelona’s vintage playing style in their 1-0 win over Granada highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Barcelona 1-0 Granda

With a goal from Lionel Messi against an iron-willed Granada, Barcelona are back at the top of La Liga.

The win is the club’s first under Quique Setien, who debuted as the Catalans manager after replacing Ernesto Valverde.

Barcelona rolled back to the years of Pep Guardiola‘s tiki-taka, as they culminated the game with 83 percent possession and completed 1005 passes. That said, Granda – playing  with 10 men from the 69h minute on – were bulletproof until the 76th minute. Messi gently pushed the ball with his weak foot, finishing what had been a series of fluid, build-up passing.

Setien deployed a nuanced 3-4-3 variation – far from Valverde’s 4-3-3 formation that ended up costing him his job after losing to Atletico Madrid in the Super Copa semifinals.

Players like Sergio Busquets were asked about the distinct styles, but he was candidly opposed to comparing the managers and their philosophies.

“We were a solid team. We had control of the ball. They created little against us,” he told Movistar. “It’s true that we struggled when they dropped deep but, in general terms, the team played a good game.

“It’s not about comparing. Every coach has his style and his way of seeing football. You’ll see what Setien asks us to do. We’re not going to reveal it. We’re delighted with what Ernesto did and we’re delighted with Setien.”

With Real Madrid and Atletico right behind, the defending champions have a long way to go this season. They’ll have to build on the win and, more importantly, further deepen their chemistry under the ex-Real Betis boss. Integrating winter signings into the fold might present itself as a challenge, too.

But one thing is certain: Barcelona can still play like they did back in their glory days. If that sticks, a lot can happen.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Mallorca 4-1 Valencia

Real Betis 3-0 Real Sociedad

Villarreal 1-2 Espanyol

Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Celta Vigo