La Liga 2016/2017 | Barcelona vs Betis Preview

There has been somewhat of a personnel revolution this summer at Betis. Such as the pace and rate of change at many Spanish football clubs, Betis are no different.

In just over 6 months we have seen the election of a new president and new boardroom, the sacking of a not so long since instated sporting director Eduardo Macìa, the appointment of his replacement director Miguel Torrecilla, the appointment of a new manager in Gus Poyet (plus his backroom staff), 10 new player signings by the latter two appointments – David López just confirmed as the 10th – and 15 players gone.

I was recently interviewed by GJ Sports Blog about Betis – how the mood is in camp, pre-season, summer activity, Gus Poyet, this season and young players, amongst a few others. You can read the full Real Betis Season Preview here.

It is hard to keep pace at times, and it certainly does keep me busy, but nonetheless the show does go on, and it starts this weekend!

La Liga – First Challenge Barcelona

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Winning the Supercopa against Sevilla (Image:

Betis have had a particularly good pre-season by there usual rocky standards. We’ve played 10, won 6, drawn 3 and lost just once. Of course, this doesn’t count for anything but Gus Poyet has had plenty of time for experimenting, integrating the new players and finding (hopefully)the winning formula.

All this means that los verdiblancos approach the first game, which could not be any more difficult by the way, in good spirits and plenty of time to set up. Yes, new players wouldn’t have gelled just yet but there is a mix of old and new and it seems like there is a good feeling running through the club.

So, Barcelona. Can Betis really plan to get anything out of this game?

I think so yes. It is unlikely, but I think it is far from impossible.

Betis Team News


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40,000 béticos have bought a season ticket (Image:

It’s going to be a very different starting 11 to enter onto the hallowed Camp Nou turf from that of this time last year against Villarreal. Five of the starting 11 from the first game of 2015/16 have now left Betis (Vargas, Xavi Torres, N’Diaye, Portillo & Molina) and a few others are out of favour.

In Gus Poyet’s last pre-season game against Red Bull Leipzig, which gives us a good indication for Saturday, he started with:

Adán – Piccini, Mandi (new), Pezzella, Durmisi (new) – Petros, Jonas Martin (new), Felipe Gutiérrez (new)– Joaquín, Rubén Castro & Musonda (new).

I suggest against Barcelona it will be something similar, perhaps with the Dani Ceballos in the centre and possibly Tonny Sanabria partnering Rubén up front or more likely occupying a wider position in a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Poyet has also played a more defensive 3-5-2 formation on several occasions this pre-season, which would see Bruno, Mandi and Pezzella play the 3 centre back positions and Durmisi and Piccini the wing/full backs.

Barcelona Team News

As for Barca, there aren’t heading into the game in tip-top condition. They will be missing a few key players, including Mascherano, who’s injured along with Iniesta and Mathieu. New signing Andre Gomes is suspended and Neymar and Rafinha are playing Olympic football in Brazil. Their number 1 Claudio Bravo is being heavily linked with Manchester City and they have lost influential full back Dani Alves.

It’s not all bad, however. They do have Messi and Suárez and have just won the Spanish Super Cup by 5-0 on aggregate against that other team from Seville, who look to be much weakened from last season having lost Kevin Gameiro, Ever Banega and Grzegorz Krychowiak.

Arda Turan popped up with two goals for Barca during the second leg with that new guy with blonde hair getting the third (see picture above). Both will play on Saturday against Betis but we hope that Gus Poyet with have masterminded a tactical coup to thwart them.

Kick off comes from the Nou Camp at 5:15pm (UK) and 6:15 (Spain). Feel free to comment below before, during or after the game.

Viva el Betis!

3 More New Signings

As far as pre-seasons go, this will go down as smooth by Betis’ standards. The club have now played seven matches and remain unbeaten with their only non-win coming via a 1-1 draw with Everton. Since my last post they have beaten Fulham, Werder Bremen and Sporting Portugal and have won the Dresden Cup.


Dresden Cup winners

There is definitely a buzz around the place and an excitement for La Liga to start, even if our first fixture is the hardest of the lot – away to Barcelona. Things just don’t run this smoothly for Betis going off past experience, but perhaps now is the time for a change in fortune?

One thing that certainly is changing, is the squad personnel. A few weeks ago I brought you a run down of the six new faces that will be appearing in green and white next season (if you’ve forgotten about or would like to take another look at Rizi Durmisi, Jonas Martin, Charly Musonda, Nahuel, Felipe Gutiérrez or Aissa Mandi then venture back here.)

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Friendly season so far so good

The friendly season is in full swing and it’s so far so good for Real Betis.

They’ve played three games and won all three comfortably. The first two games were against much lesser Spanish opposition where Betis scored a total of nine without reply, but the latest game was against Aitor Karanka’s newly promoted Middlesborough who would provide a much tougher challenge.

By the sounds of it Betis were the much better side and ran out 2-1 winners in Marbella with goals from Dani Ceballos and Rubén Castro with one of the most Rubén Castro type goals you will see; superb first time arrowing finish into the bottom corner.

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Sanabria – who he is and what he’s about

Paraguayan forward Tonny Sanabria jetted into Sevilla last night to prepare for his move to Real Betis and become the 7th signing of the pre-season. He was met at San Pablo airport by Miguel Torrecilla and shortly after photographed with a verdiblanco scarf to put any doubters at bay and give fans a real sense of anticipation.

On Wednesday he successfully completed his medical and will sign for Betis in the evening before joining his new teammates in Marbella.

Obviously Betis have made a large number of signings the past couple of seasons but this one seems different. More significant. As mentioned in my previous blog, we’ve already made six very good signings but this almost seems like a steppe change for the club. Last summer, yes, we had the likes of Joaquín and Van der Vaart join the club but these players are in the twilight of their career (VdV more towards midnight) – Sanabria isn’t though.

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Sales, Shirts and Sanabria

As always there have been a lot happenings at Betis in the past week or two. We’ve had new signings, big players going, season ticket sales, part of the stadium being knocked down and three new kits shown off to the media and fans alike.

Sanabria to Betis almost a done deal after rejecting Spurs

sanabriaBetis have already made 6 very good signing (on paper at least) – all of whom I wrote about here. In that post I mentioned that the club are still looking for at least 4 more players and one of these looks like it’s going to be Antonio ‘Tony’ Sanabria, which I think could be an even more exciting prospects than the others!

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6 new signings with more to come

The less said about England and Spain in Euro 2016 the better……

Betis could however learn a thing or two from the ‘lesser’ countries who have prospered so far. I’m thinking of Wales and more specifically Iceland, who have performed superbly. Without having the best individuals their team has excelled. It may be a bit cliché but they are following on in Leicester’s impressive footsteps.

Another glaringly brilliant example that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Iceland’s defensive set-up has been immense, the players are incredibly well-drilled but they also break forward with purpose, intent and skill. Their tactics and teamwork have brought them to the quarter finals of the Euros and I definitely think Gus Poyet should be making a note in regards to Lars Lagerbäck’s approach. On a personal level I should also be making a note of Iceland’s (the frozen food company) marketing strategy as they played a blinder!

Back to Betis News

It’s been reported today that los verdiblancos have secured their 5th and 6th signings of the close season in Felipe Gutiérrez and Aissa Mandi. This comes after the club have announced that Durmisi, Jonas Martin, Nahuel and Musonda will all be playing in green and white next season. Let’s have a quick look at them all.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 20.53.06Riza Durmisi – Tricky, skilful, small Danish left back signed from Brondby for €2m. He has signed a 5 year contract at the club and his buyout clause has increased to €20m! Having done a bit of research he looks great going forward and looks like he’ll be able to provide some genuine threat on the left (reminds me of Jordi Alba) but there’s nothing too clear cut about his defensive qualities. He was the player of the year at Brondby last season and looks to have nailed down his place as Denmark’s left-back at the age of 22. Could be one to watch.

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Jonas Martin – The Frenchman is a good all-round central midfielder. He’s 26 years old and signed from Montpellier for €3m. He can play further back in a defensive role/double pivot or slightly more forward around the centre circle but getting forward and joining the attacking plays. Although he doesn’t score many goals he has got good nerve on him, can pick a pass and can took away a penalty. He can also use both feet and likes to keep possession. Can be a calm influence for Betis this season.

castro and musondaCharly Musonda – We already know quite a lot about this 19 year old attack minded Belgian. He’s back at Betis on loan from Chelsea but for the whole season this time. He sparked life into a rather dull team last season when he joined in January and every single Betis fan I know is glad that he is back at el Benito Villamarín.

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Matías ‘Nahuel’ Leiva Esquivel – known just as Nahuel, he’s a 19 year old winger on loan from Villarreal with the option to buy. In short he is a real talent with huge potential but not quick ‘knocking down any doors’ (as Miguel Verdugo put it for

He has great speed and explosiveness and can go either down the line on the left or cut inside. Looking forward to see him play, especially countering Betis forward. He was also born in Rosario, the same place as one Lionel Messi, therefore he must be good. Despite this he has featured for Spain’s U19s and U21s after coming over to Villarreal when he was 19.  

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 20.53.38Felipe Gutiérrez – 26 year old central midfield joins from FC Twente on a 5 year contract. He’s played in Holland since 2012 as well as featuring 29 times for Chile. Rather ironically, his arrival could spell fellow countryman Lolo Reyes’ departure. He appears calm and classy on the ball and possesses a good left foot. Also has a tenacious streak (as most South Americans do) which is much needed for Betis in the middle of the field. Looks like Betis are splashing out around €3m on Gutiérrez, so he must be promising!

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 21.12.20.pngAissa Mandi  – 24 year old French-Algerian has signed a 5 year contract from French side Stade de Reims for €3-4m. He plays mostly as a right full back but can also play centre back. Betis have struggled for many years now to find a decent, consistent full back, hopefully Mandi will put this to bed. At 6’1″ he’s a tall lateral but seems well equipped going forward as well as good tactical awareness at the back. He was linked heavily with newly promoted Premier League club Middlesborough earlier this month but it is Betis who have put pen to paper.

New Sporting Director Miguel Torrecilla is certainly doing what he set out to do when he joined Betis a few months ago and he hopes to make a further 4-6 signings to finish off the squad. There are also a number of players who need to be offloaded to make room for all these new players, so we’ll be keeping tabs on this in the coming months.


Euro 2016 Match Day 2 Review

With 24 games played out of the 51 scheduled, we’re already nearly half way through Euro 2016! Match day 2 hasn’t had as many off-field antics as match day 1 did, which is good news, but it has had a few more exciting games with a shed load of late drama.

Even though there have been two nil nils in MD 2, even they have been pretty entertaining! Despite this the number of influential substitutions and late goals has been remarkable.

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Euro 2016: Scores on the Doors after Match Day 1

It’s been a fascinating start to Euro 2016. We’ve had the good (great goals, fantastic atmospheres), the bad (red cards, Germany’s coaching staff dress attire) and the ugly (horrendous fighting, Joachim Löw’s scratch and sniff manoeuvre) – and we are only five days into the tournament!

With Portugal and Iceland (go on the Icemen!) rounding off proceedings last night, we have now seen all the teams show us what they’ve got to offer in the 2016 edition of the European Championships. It hasn’t been too exciting on the pitch with a lot of teams playing it fairly safe and keeping it tight to avoid any catastrophic starts, but we haven’t seen any goalless draws which is always good news.

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Euro 2016 kicks off!

A major tournament only happens once every two years so early afternoon beers, hours of watching TV and general excited-ness are absolutely justified!

The tournament kicked off in Paris last night as France took on the heavily underestimated Romania. The Romanians gave the French a minor scare as the game looked like it was heading for a 1-1 draw but then up stepped West Ham United midfield Dimitri Payet to spank one right in the top corner from 20-25 yards. A peach of strike with his so-called ‘weaker’ left foot.

The second game has just finished with Switzerland hanging on to a 1-0 win against 10-men Albania, who like Romania, have been much better than I expected. Albania had a glorious chance to level it up with 3 minutes left but Gashi fluffed his lines as the Swiss number one made a fantastic save. Despite that, I don’t expect Albania to make to turn too many heads during this tournament, in fact there is more chance in being tax audited according to the latest odds from Betfair.

The odds have been metamorphosed into a nice infographic below which has been powered up by Myprotein. The infographic shows the latest betting percentages against some odd comparisons.
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News update – signings, money and Euro 2016

It doesn’t seem like five minutes since the season finished, but Real Betis are already a club on the move. With Gus Poyet at the helm and new Sporting Director Miguel Torrecilla hitting the ground running, things are moving quickly again at the club.

Signings and potentials

First signing of the season was Riza Durmisi. He’s a very promising 22 year old Danish full back who likes to get forward. He’s already played 10 times for the national team including the other day against Bosnia where it’s reported he had a very good game, helping to set up two goals. Last season the left-footer was making a good name for himself and attracting attention all over Europe, including from Everton. In 2015 he won Brondy Player of the Year which inclined Betis to activate his €2m release clause and sign a 5 year deal.

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