Víctor and Real Betis started 2017 in perfect fashion with a controlled 2-0 victory over Leganés on Sunday. Let’s hope this is a benchmark for the rest of the season.
The win, courtesy of two second half goals from the ever-green Rubén Castro and unlikely scorer Cristiano Piccini, take Betis to 21 points from 17 games. This doesn’t sound like an awful lot but it is actually one of Betis’ brightest start in recent reasons. In fact over the last 14 years only Lorenzo Serra (2005) and Pepe Mel (2013) have accumulated more points by match day 17.
Much of this is down to new manager Víctor Sánchez, who let’s face it, has been a breath of fresh air at the club, after the rather toxic fumes of Gus Poyet, who actually called Betis out at the weekend from his new abode in China, at Shanghai Shenhua. The former Betis manager said his experience at los verdiblancos was “the first I’ve had as a manager.” He couldn’t explain why apart from one reason: the FANS.
He said visiting el Benito Villamarín as a player was always a pleasure but he found something totally different: “An altered situation, with lots of nervousness and a lot of division. A lot of aggression.” He does agree that it was the right decision to go.
It wasn’t a great experience for the fans either Gus, who were 100% behind you at the beginning. It is completely unfair to blame all this on some of the most loyal fans in the country. They were nervous because you, the head of the club, gave us nothing to be confident about. The teams you sent out had no motivation, no intensity and the football style was terrible.
Fast forward a few months down the line and the situation is completely different. Víctor has come in, amidst some fairly confused expressions, mine included, but he has kicked the team up the arse and got the fans fully on his side through: 1) the things he says, 2) his style of football, 3) the motivated way the team enter the field.
If you need more proof as to how well Víctor Sánchez del Amo is doing as los verdiblancos manager then cop a load of these facts, thanks to Pepe Elías:
- Since he has arrived, he’s won the same number of points of Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Real Sociedad – 10 points in 6 games;
- Turning el Benito Villamarín into a fortress – all 10 points have been won at home
- If the league started when he arrived, Betis would be 5th in la liga
Things are quite perfect of course. We were disappointingly eliminated from the Copa del Rey by Deportivo despite winning the first leg and we’ve lost two out of two away games under Víctor.
Domination of Leganés
From start to finish Betis dominated a Leganés side who looked like they had eaten too many polverones over navidad. Betis should have been in front by half time after threatening a few times without quite finding the final play. They went into half time at 0-0 but didn’t panic and we’re 1-0 six minutes into the second half.
If we couldn’t quite find the killer ball in the first half then Dani Ceballos certainly found it with an Xavi-esque through ball which sliced six Leganés players standing in front of him to set free the sprightly Rubén Castro who was lingering on the right hand side of the defence. Once free Rubén headed diagonally to the goal and did what he does best; finished with deadly aplomb into the bottom left hand corner.
After the game Ceballos called Castro a “living legend”. It’s great to see the old and the young combining. Ceballos is still only 20 and a lot of pressure is being heaped on him, but he is doing a fantastic job and is quickly becoming the number 10 Betis have been craving.
The second goal came near the end after a mix-up in the Leganés defence. A misplaced pass found it’s way to Alex Alegría who had one defender in front of him. Piccini was originally closing down the player who misplaced it and decided to carry on his run. Alegría gladly slotted him through and the Italian cooling slid it past the goalkeeper at the near post. 2-0, job very well done.
Quite a lot is also being made of the absence of Ryan Donk who was replaced by Jonas Martin. The Frenchman has been linked with a move away but Víctor will be unwilling to let him go based on that performance. He offers more than Donk in the middle of the field, controls the game better and has more of a presence. For me, Donk’s better position is at centre back.
Great start to the new year and with plenty of positive signs going forward.