Real Betis vs. Barcelona  2 - 2

Article

Guardiola pleased with Afellay return

13 May 2012 16:18

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has heaped praise on Ibrahim Afellay in his return to action against Real Betis on Saturday.

The Dutchman featured for the first time since sustaining a knee injury in September and lasted 58 minutes before Guardiola opted to replace him for tactical reasons.

And Guardiola coach believes that Afellay's return is good news for Netherlands ahead of Euro 2012.

"He played very well. He participated, he had a chance to score and he didn’t lose any balls," Guardiola said.

"With (Dani) Alves' red card, I preferred to sub him out to avoid fatigue.

Anyway, it's good news for the Dutch national team and for the future."

The 41-year-old then went on to praise Seydou Keita, who netted the equaliser in the 2-2 draw in the closing minutes of the game.

"He (Keita) probably deserves more. He’s a very important player. He gives us things that other midfielders don't have. I’m pleased with his game."

Barcelona will now turn their attention to the upcoming Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao on May 25.

Article

Guardiola leaps to Alves defence

13 May 2012 04:08

Pep Guardiola has defended Dani Alves after the Brazilian's ill-discipline saw him sent off in Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Real Betis.

The right-back was given his second yellow card after a lunge into Jefferson Montero early in the second half.

Barca led 1-0 at that stage before conceding twice in the space of four second-half minutes.

The Catalans required a last-gasp Seydou Keita equaliser to prevent them from slumping to a surprise defeat in Guardiola's last league match in charge.

Guardiola conceded the Alves sending off saw his side lose control of the game.

"In the first half we played very well," Guardiola said after the game.

"However, we lost control at the start of the second half and after Alves' sending off it was another game.

Asked about talk of Alves leaving the La Liga giants, Guardiola said he would not dispense of the 29-year-old if he were still coaching next season.

"Alves exit rumours? It's not up to me anymore, but for me he is irreplaceable," Guardiola said.

Guardiola will lead Barcelona one last time when they meet Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final on May 25.

Article

La Liga wrap: Forgettable finish for Barca, Valencia

13 May 2012 02:38

Barcelona completed their disappointing La Liga campaign with a 2-2 draw at Real Betis, while Valencia tasted defeat at Real Sociedad.

A header from Seydou Keita in additional time helped Barca salvage a point in Pep Guardiola's last league game in charge after a Ruben Castro brace put mid-table Betis ahead.

Dani Alves was sent off in the 53rd minute in what proved to be a turning point after Barcelona had looked in control of the encounter.

Sergio Busquets put the visitors ahead when he headed in a curling Xavi corner in the ninth minute, but they squandered several opportunities to double their lead before the interval.

Betis were handed a way back into the contest when Alves inexplicably lunged at Jefferson Montero to pick up his second yellow card of the match.

The home side were buoyed by the sending off and became more aggressive in their search of an equaliser.

Betis piled on the pressure and grabbed their leveller on 71 minutes.

Substitute Roque Santa Cruz flicked the ball into the path of Castro, who chipped his shot over the onrushing Victor Valdes.

Betis turned the game on its head when they took the lead in the 75th minute after a clever passing move.

The neat move saw Castro released behind the Barca defence, and the striker placed his finish past Valdes and into the bottom corner for his 16th goal of the season.

There was to be late drama as Keita managed to get on the end of Martin Montoya's cross in the 92nd minute to send a brilliant header into the far corner as Barca earned a dramatic point.

Third-placed Valencia rounded out their campaign on a low note, suffering a 1-0 reverse at Real Sociedad.

Antoine Griezmann, who scored the winner in the meeting between the teams earlier this season, netted the only goal of the game on 64 minutes as Unai Emery's four-year stint at Valencia finished in defeat.

Article

Pique fit for Betis trip

9 May 2012 09:18

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique is fit to appear in their final La Liga match this season, when they travel to Real Betis on Saturday.

The centre-back was taken to hospital after an unfortunate collision with goalkeeper Victor Valdes in his side's 2-2 Champions League semi-final draw against Chelsea on April 24, but was discharged the following day.

Pique missed the league games against Rayo Vallecano, Malaga and Espanyol due to the knock, but Barca have announced on their official website that the Spain international has received a medical clearance and is set to make his comeback for the final league game of the season.

This will come as a relief for manager Pep Guardiola, who will be without Carles Puyol as the veteran defender is scheduled to undergo knee surgery.

Primera División table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +89 100
2 38 +85 91
3 38 +15 61
4 38 +1 58
5 38 +7 56
6 38 +4 55
7 38 -17 54
8 38 -4 52
9 38 +1 50
10 38 -3 49
11 38 -11 47
12 38 -6 47
13 38 -9 47
14 38 -10 46
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -25 43
17 38 -21 42
18 38 -14 41
19 38 -27 37
20 38 -35 27