Ter Stegen's toughness lifts Barcelona to the Spanish Super Cup final! Winners, losers & ratings vs Betis as Real Madrid await

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Barcelona squandered the lead twice Thursday against Real Betis and needed Marc-Andre ter Stegen's penalty heroics to advance to the Super Cup final.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen didn't celebrate much - at least not yet. He'd just saved the second straight Real Betis penalty in Thursday's shootout, diving low to stifle William Carvalho's attempt. And while Carvalho slumped away, Ter Stegen dutifully took his spot on the byline, waiting for Pedri's eventual winner.

It was only when Pedri finally put an end to a nervy, uncomfortable Spanish Super Cup semi-final for Barcelona that he shouted and embraced his team-mates.

The Blaugrana spent long periods on the back foot, and created fewer chances than Real Betis, despite having far more possession. Barcelona went ahead twice, and squandered it both times to send the game to the penalty shootout.

And there, Ter Stegen played hero, saving two Betis shots.

Robert Lewandowski and Ansu Fati grabbed the goals for Barca before the shootout. The Polish striker tucked away a neat volley to open the scoring on his return to the side, but Nabil Fekir swept a shot into the bottom corner to equalise. Fati appeared to have won it in extra-time with a fizzing strike past Claudio Bravo, but Betis struck again, with veteran striker Loren Moron flicking the ball through Ronald Araujo's legs to tie the game at 2-2.

Next up for Barcelona? A Super Cup final against Real Madrid.

  1. The Winners
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    The Winners

    Robert Lewandowski:

    The Polish striker started the game by giving the ball away. Five minutes later, he fluffed a back heel. Slightly after he skewed a shot wide despite having acres of space.

    But then, inevitably, the goal came. It wasn't a pretty thing, the result of two rebounds and a piece of poor goalkeeping, but the ball hit the back of the net regardless. This wasn't his best performance by any means, but the top strikers always find a way to score, even amidst shoddy showings.

    Marc Andre ter Stegen:

    It was, in truth, quite an uneven game for the German goalkeeper. He opened the first half with a trio of crucial stops, keeping his team in the game. But he was less reliable in the second, and could perhaps have saved Betis' equaliser. Still, Ter Stegen came into his own during the penalty shootout. After being beaten on the first penalty, he almost saved the second, before stifling the next two. Barcelona were far short of their best in the semi-final, but their goalkeeper made sure that they have a shot at silverware this Sunday. He's a tough figure.

    Ansu Fati:

    The Spanish striker has often been burdened by the weight of the No.10 shirt, which has led to increased scrutiny for the youngster. Every loose touch is scoured, every miss is criticised. Against Real Betis, though, he delivered a left-footed finish worthy of the famous number. His goal was magnificent, an angled volley into the far corner while running away from the net. It was only his seventh touch of the game, a moment of magic after a spell of anonymity. Xavi has backed Fati to be a regular goalscorer, and it's finishes like Thursday night's that support his assertion.

  2. The Losers
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    The Losers

    Jordi Alba:

    Jordi Alba has been in steady decline for some time. He hasn't changed much as a player; the Spaniard still makes those signature marauding runs down the left wing. But his ability at the other end is waning. Alba was never a fantastic one-on-one defender, often relying on his pace and engine to track back and limit opposing attacks down his side. As he's aged, those legs have gone, making Alba increasingly vulnerable defensively. Betis right-midfielder Luiz Henrique ran rampant for long stretches against the full-back, with Alba often caught out of position.

    Ferran Torres:

    If Fati justified his manager's faith, Torres threw it away. The forward looked off the pace after coming on with 10 minutes remaining in regular time, and was near-detrimental to his team's attacking progress. His poorly-timed run in the build up to a wonderful Lewandowski finish saw the goal chalked off. He was caught offside twice more in the final few minutes, halting promising moves on both occasions. Torres has never found form in a Barcelona kit, and it was another puzzling showing for him Thursday evening.

  3. Barcelona Ratings: Defence
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    Barcelona Ratings: Defence

    Marc Andre ter Stegen (7/10):

    Made one ridiculous save, denying German Pezzella out from a corner. Stopped two further shots in the first half to keep a surging Betis out. Couldn't really do anything about the first goal, but perhaps could have done better for the second. He redeemed himself in the penalty shootout, though, saving two penalties to send his team through.

    Sergi Roberto (6/10)

    Was reliable, if unspectacular, for 70 minutes. Made one excellent sliding tackle at the far post to stop a certain goal.

    Ronald Araujo (7/10)

    Showed fantastic pace to tackle Fekir with the goal gaping. Won his aerial duels with regularity and was the most reliable of Barca's back four. Can't be faulted for either goal.

    Jules Kounde (6/10)

    One terrible back pass early on almost gave a goal away, but he recovered. Stepped in for the languid Jordi Alba with aplomb.

    Jordi Alba (5/10)

    Energetic and chaotic as ever going forward, and always willing to make clever runs. But he was badly exposed at the back and didn't win any of his individual duels.

  4. Midfield
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    Gavi (6/10)

    Lots of energy, but not as refined as in past games. Played a few loose passes and was often bullied off the ball.

    Frenkie de Jong (7/10)

    The fans booed when the Dutchman was subbed off, and it's easy to see why. De Jong was excellent for an hour, the centrepiece of a sturdy midfield three. Likely an agreed substitution on the hour mark, though.

    Pedri (8/10)

    Touched the ball more than any other midfielder on the pitch, won 100% of his tackles, made 10 recoveries. As wonderful as ever to watch. Should've had a goal, too, but Raphinha was offside in the build up. Buried the winning penalty to cap off an impressive performance.

  5. Attack
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    Raphinha (6/10)

    Provided a lovely assist to Pedri, only to see the goal chalked off after VAR intervened. Was otherwise sloppy, and completed only one of his five crosses.

    Robert Lewandowski (7/10)

    Missed two chances inside the first 16 minutes, completely scuffing one off a pull back from Dembele. But he grew into the game and got himself on the scoresheet. Finished his penalty nicely, too.

    Ousmane Dembele (6/10)

    There are few better dribblers than Dembele in world football at the moment. For an hour, he was a series of deft faints and fancy flicks. His understanding with Lewandowski is improving, too. But he made the wrong decision on a few occasions, which cost his side.

  6. Subs & Manager
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    Subs & Manager

    Ferran Torres (4/10):

    Came on for Dembele, got caught needlessly offside to see Lewandowski's potential winner chalked off. Was generally poor.

    Sergio Busquets (6/10): Typically composed showing. Completed all but one of his passes, won his tackles, kept things ticking.

    Andreas Christensen (6/10): Steady at the back, as usual.

    Marcos Alonso (6/10): Relieved a tired Jordi Alba and offered a bit more cover at the back.

    Ansu Fati (8/10): Forced a spectacular save out of Claudio Bravo with a toe poke, then scored a terrific goal. Smashed his penalty in, too.

    Xavi (6/10): The Barcelona boss can't really be faulted for his starting XI, but some of the substitutions were questionable. Although it was likely a planned change, withdrawing De Jong proved to be a mistake. He also hasn't quite figured out how to get the best out of Ferran Torres. But Xavi can still bring a trophy back to Barcelona, and he has Ter Stegen to thank.