Betis have had a whole two weeks to recover from their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Real Madrid. Plenty of time to recuperate physically and mentally, just in time to teach David Moyes and his merry men a footballing lesson.
The big team news floating around this week is that new signing, Joaquin, may not be fit enough to make his debut after 9 long years, due to a knee injury (and not his hand/wrist which he injured punching a table in the midst of transfer negotiations). Great news for beticos is that he trained with the team with no problems on Friday morning.
New signing Vargas returned from international duty with Peru to train with the team also, but central midfield Xavi Torres is not fit. With Didier Digard also out and Van der Vaart still recovering, Pepe Mel will be looking for someone to accompany midfield tank, Alfred N’Diaye.
Depending on who Mel picks, will decide how he wants to approach the game. Choosing Petros will see the team sit back in a more defensive, come and break us down style. The other option is Dani Ceballos who will provide an attacking flair and go at Real Sociedad from the off.
In defence, Betis will be without the injured centre-back Pezzella, who has not done too much to instil an unbreakable record of confidence throughout his first two games. He is likely to be replaced by fellow new signing, Heiko Westermann, who is getting their with his fitness levels.
Ricky Van Wolfswinkel has been training well and impressing potential partner in crime, Ruben Castro. The problem for Van Wolfswinkel is the language barrier, but according to Pepe Mel, he is “intelligent and will do well”.
In his press conference on Friday, Pepe Mel had a few interesting words to say. Of Joaquin, he said he is the “essence of what Betis are all about” and that he will get minutes on Saturday. The essense of Betis and the essense of Mel, is attack. Let’s be honest, he just doesn’t do defensive very well, but what does that matter when your motto is ‘Long live Betis, even when you lose’? The fans want to see attacking, exciting football and with Joaquin, that’s what they’ll get.
Don Pepe assured fans that Betis are going to have a season that is “tranquilo” and “bueno“. Bueno is good, but I’m not sure tranquilo is possible at Betis? If it is, then a calm first season of stability might go down well!
With David Moyes, La Real have a solid defensive set-up, shipping zero goals in their first two jornadas. At the business end of the pitch, however, they aren’t setting the world alight and have not managed to score a single goal this season. We shouldn’t be fooled too much by this as any team with Carlos Vela, Jonathas and Chory Castro have the quality to punish a not so savvy defence. They also now have Illarramendi marshalling the midfield after signing from Real Madrid in the summer on a massive contract, who is bound to be a hit player for them.
It’s going to be an interesting encounter. Both sides are not exactly flush with goals, which with Betis’ predictable unpredictability, could mean that we’ll witness an absolute glut of them. With Joaquin likely to play some part, the crowd is going to be absolutely wild.
The kick off is 10pm Spanish time/9pm UK and will be shown live on Sky Sports.