In every cloud, there is a silver lining. This season over Betis there has certainly been a cloud, but there has been a bright sliver of a silver lining, and that has been Dani Ceballos.
I have been talking about Dani for a couple of years now and it’s easy to forget that he is still 20 years old. After a quiet first season in La Liga, Dani has stepped it up this year and has been the shining light, the player with fight, the man of Betis. It’s not all been smooth sailing for him in what has been a bleak year for the club and at times he has single-handedly tried to drag the team through a game, quite often to his detriment, but his talent and desire is clearly there for all to see.
It’s true, this season hasn’t been a vintage one. Three managers, bottom half finish, dull viewing and the list goes on.
But, hope springs eternal when you wear the green and white of Betis, just ask superfan Swede Linus Lovgren. This is the manquepierda (even when we lose) philosophy that runs through the club. Linus has created a brilliant video that sums things up beautifully – not lost.
With the opening lyrics of, “Just because I’m losing, doesn’t mean I’m lost” – it’s an inspired choice of music to go alongside a paradoxically uplifting video.
Seven years after leaving Betis for Reus, Sergio León finally returns home. The 28 year old, originally from Cordoba, has signed a four year contract at the Benito Villamarin after departing from relegated Osasuna. In doing so he becomes the first signing of new manager Quique Setién and newly instated sporting director Lorenzo Serra Ferrer.
León started his footballing career at Betis back in 2004 at the tender age of 15. After four years in the youth teams, he moved up to Betis C and then Betis B in 2009. He made his one and only league appearance for the first team in 2010 during a 1-0 loss against Girona. Not surprisingly, Betis were relegated that season.
It looks like highly promising Betis youngster Roberto Gonzalez is on the verge of joining Jose Mourinho and co. at Manchester United. In fact, he would be joining up with the Manchester United academy currently under the guidance of former midfielder Nicky Butt. However, the management at Betis have not given up on keeping the young star at Betis.
There was been growing hype around the 16 year old, who hails from Merida in Extremadura, since he was first called up to the Spanish Under-16 set-up in the autumn last year, before playing at the under 16 international tournament at St George’s Park, England, in February this year. He’s an attacking forward and has been playing for the Cadete A youth team, three levels below Betis B, who have just won promotion back up to the Segunda B.
Victor Sanchez del Amo has been sacked as head coach, putting us out of our misery for the time-being, and brings to an end yet another ‘project’ at Real Betis.
Everything came to a head on Monday evening when Betis travelled to that mighty, high-flying club in la liga…Leganés. We were 2-0 down after 15 minutes and I swiftly turned off the game and switched over just in time to watch Grand Designs on More 4. I couldn’t bear to waste another 90 minutes of my evening on this drivel. I think that feeling generally sums up the season for most béticos.
The book ‘Románticos Sportmans’ by José Miguel Ortega claims that it was “the Canterac estate where the Scots played in the 19th century. They were the first football matches in Valladolid and, most likely, Spain.” But just what came of this club?
In the midst of the city of Valladolid, the de facto capital of Castile and Léon and once residence of the kings of Castile, around 20 minutes from the Campo Grande train station and behind a school named after Pablo Picasso, you’ll find a stadium called the Finca de Canterac. With the ability to host 2,000 spectators, it is the home ground of team called Betis.
Like all sports, football finds itself in conflict between tradition and modernisation. On one side, clubs and supporters don’t want technology to encroach on the beautiful game and on the other side no one wants a repeat of some of the disallowed goals we have seen over the years, such Lampard’s ‘goal’ in the WC against Germany and Roy Carroll’s blunder against Spurs – you can see some of the best disallowed goals here on Kick TV.
Just before the game last Friday I tweeted about how it would be the first of three consecutive Andalucian derbies for Betis and how I spelled a hat-trick.
Of course I meant a hat-trick of victories; starting with Granada, finishing with Málaga and stuffed in the middle with Seville. I did not in my wildest Betis imagination, even taking into account that Betis can be highly erratic and difficult to predict, envisage being 3-0 down to the leagues second worst offensive outfit!
Betis are to wear a specially commissioned green and white hooped shirt for the game against Málaga on 28th February to celebrate Andalucía Day, and also in a nod to their Celtic-based origins.
Los Verdiblancos will travel east to, quite fittingly, take on their Andalucian rivals in a game that will not only be remembered for the 5-0 thumping I’m envisioning we give to los boquerones. The game against Málaga will mark the end of a triple header for Betis against Andalucian opposition after taking on Granada and Sevilla in the two games before.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. With this wise, old owl I wouldn’t have sat down for two hours last Sunday evening to watch Betis play Sporting Gijón. Alas, due to my inability to look into the future, I did sit down and watch a dire match that ended 0-0.
It was in stark contrast to another match I watched that day which involved our intra-city rivals. That game was entertaining, exciting and packed with goals, seven to be precise, as Sevilla ran out 4-3 winners away to Osasuna.
Time to up our game Betis.