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The France international's absence from training was reportedly due to his phone running out of battery, meaning it took an hour-and-a-half for him to notify the club of a stomach bug. "We've all been young like him, we've all made mistakes like him".

Sources have told ESPN FC that Barca are sticking by Dembele, a €145 million signing from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, despite his inability to improve in areas off the pitch which are deemed to be holding him back.

His playing time has been limited by a series of hamstring injuries and he has also fallen foul of the club's disciplinary code, including turning up late for a team meeting before a Champions League game at home to Inter Milan in October. "That's his usual trick to be late, although in his defence I'm sure he'll say: 'I'm not the only one'".

Messi finished off a flowing move in stoppage time to make it 4-3, but Betis held on to inflict Barcelona's first defeat at the Nou Camp in LaLiga since they lost 2-1 to Alaves in September 2016.

Pique, while conceding that all their defenders all needed to improve, was also adamant that the champions' fans should not be anxious about the current frailties of the team's rearguard.

Ivan Rakitic was sent off, however, with nine minutes left and Sergio Canales added a fourth for Betis before Messi poked home in the 92nd minute.

With the loss, Barcelona holds just a one-point lead over Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, and Alaves at the top of the La Liga table, with Espanyol three points back and Real Madrid still seven points behind.

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"It's not an individual thing, it's a group problem".

"We're going to try but I don't know if we'll be able to do it. Barcelona have been doing this for 25 years and Betis only a year and half", Setien admitted.

He was initially quizzed on the way that his team pressed the ball.

"Today, for example, we should have stopped their first goal by committing a foul".

"We have been a fearless team in every way", former Spain worldwide Joaquin said.

"I thought we pressed them well at the start, getting turnover of possession.but after that we just didn't keep it up", he said.