Betis 1 – 3 Athletic Bilbao: clueless Betis outclassed

It never rains, it only pours in Betis-land. The club suffered their third home defeat in a row in torrential conditions as the whole squad were found wanting save for a few; namely Adán, possibly N’Diaye and maybe Digard.

Losing 3-1 actually makes it sound closer than it was. Betis played without conviction, without confidence and without knowledge. Looking for any identity was like looking for a particular clown fish in the Pacific Ocean – it just wasn’t there. To think Betis started the game above Athletic is fairly absurd judging by the vast differential gulf in quality, effort and classiness.

On his return to el Benito Villamarín, that little midfield magician, Beñat Exteberria, absolutely ran the show. Everything went through him. It was a midfield masterclass in passing, movement, decisiveness, creativty, tracking – he had it all. He almost single-handedly made it seem like Betis just didn’t have a midfield.

In the centre they had N’Diaye and Ceballos. N’Diaye had a decent game, tried hard, made a few last ditch tackles when the defence went missing and tried to stamp a notion of authority. Ceballos, however, was non-existent. I know he is 19, but if he is to merit a starting place, which he certainly can do, he needs to learn fast.

I feel he could actually be a very similar to player to Beñat. He’s got the same tenacity, good ball skills and an eye for an incisive pass, but he was completely and utterly outclassed last night. What he should do is watch a video of this game and pick up everything Beñat did. Then watch it again.

As for the Betis defence, it was full on woeful. Centre-backs Pezzella and Bruno were literally all over the show. At times I had no idea where they’d wondered off to or why. Molinero and Piccini were just as bad.

That being said, Athletic Bilbao were very good. Young forward Iñaki Williams scored two good goals. The first came early on as Betis, for the umpteenth time this season went 1-0 down early on. Fighting an up hill battle straight away. Adán made a few good saves and Athletic wasted a few chances. To go 2-0 down at half time was lucky. At time I genuinely thought Athletic had about 15 players and Betis about 7.

Pepe Mel declared the first half was, “very poor”. It wasn’t that good. The second half wasn’t much better either. Didier Digard came off the bench and actually gave Betis a bit of shape. He also put himself about and gave Betis a bit of much needed character!

Los verdiblancos got a fairly lucky handball penalty and Rubén Castro tucked it away. They then look half-dangerous for about 10 minutes and could have possible equalised after good play from Ricky Van Wolkswinkel, who made his first start. Athletic weathered the storm then killed the game off when Raúl Garcia pinged one in from 25 yards.

At the end of the game, Mel said Athletic were a good team and talked about them beating Barcelona etc. Yes they did, but just say, “we were shambolically shit”? This was an Athletic team who although in good form, had lost 4 out of 5 games at the start of the season.

Ok rant over.

Having said all that I don’t think we should start panicking just yet.

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The table doesn’t look too bad. However, the performance has to get better. If we start to continue to slide down the table then I’ll start to worry.

For now I’m still behind Pepe Mel, although I don’t think the majority of Béticos are. Many are citing his lack of leadership and capacity to manage the situation as problems that are just too big. To me it either looks like the players aren’t putting in as much effort as they should be, they’re being told the wrong thing to do, or that they aren’t being trained correctly, e.g. zonal marking?!?! The amount of times Athletic had about 4 players queuing up from a cross to pop it in the net – zonal marking doesn’t work!!

Something needs to be done fast. That’s it for now. Up next is Málaga away on Saturday. Málaga are floundering just above the relegation zone, so a result there is pretty vital.


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