La Liga football finally returns this weekend after seemingly being away for an eternity! It will be just short of two weeks since Betis put Rayo Vallecano to the slaughter with their new fangled style of play – press and punish. Mel and Betis will be looking for their 3rd win in a row when they take on Espanyol at el Benito Villamarín on Saturday night.
Just before we get to the team news, earlier this week I rounded up some of the news flying around the club and mentioned that Ceballos still hadn’t signed. Well, on Thursday night he put pen to paper after months and months of wrangling. The deal will seem he stay at the club till 2020 with a release clause of 12 million, which may rise to 15 million if he plays over 25 games this season. He will be the third best paid player at the club with an annual salary just sort of 1 million euros, around 19,000 euros a week.
On training on Friday morning, Ceballos was applauded onto the pitch by his team mates – nice touch!
There have been a few movers and shakers on the Betis injury table. Rafael Van der Vaart and Juan Vargas have returned to full training with the squad, but will not play a part on Saturday. Didier Digard who got through his first 90 minutes last weekend against Mérida may be in line to make the squad. Ceballos and Varela returned from their under-21 Spain duty with no problems and joined straight back up. Midfield dynamo Alfred N’Diaye also resumed training on Thursday after not featuring for Senegal during the break.
Disconcertingly, Rubén Castro didn’t train on Thursday due to a knock to his right knee. Not wanting to take any risks, he was asked to sit out as a precaution but is likely to be OK for Saturday having featured in training on Friday. Jorge Molina is definitely out though.
Aside from Molina, Vargas, Van der Vaart and Vadillo (not match fit), Mel has everyone else to choose from for his squad.
Betis have played their last two games very intelligently and Pepe Mel will be looking for the same against Espanyol. The team from Catalunya can pose problems with the likes of Felipe Caicedo and Asensio in their ranks. They also have former Betis player Jose Cañas who we know will be as tenacious as ever in his defensive midfield role.