Time to shine in Gran Canaria

Betis face a potential banana skin trip to Gran Canaria this Saturday to take Las Palmas. Although los amarillos are in rock-bottom position, a win will take them out of the relegation zone as the two teams immediately above Las Palmas, Levante and Granada, pair off against each other.

A win for Betis could take them as high as 7th place, momentarily at least, as all the other sides they could leapfrog play tomorrow (apart from Sevilla who take on Sporting today).

Speaking of the eternal rival, Betis do have half an eye on them, as in exactly a week’s time we will be ready to watch the first derbi sevillano of the season. There has been a little bit of talk this week of resting certain players on the cusp of returning from injury – namely Adán and N’Diaye – in order for them to be fresh for the derby. I do understand this discussion but it also worries my slightly as we really should be fully concentrating on Las Palmas. In terms of percentages, a win against Las Palmas is more likely than against Sevilla, so in my opinion we should be doing all we can to get three points in Gran Canaria and go back to Heliopolis in full confidence ready to take on Sevilla.

It seems that Pepe Mel has taken a half and half approach to this one. He’s included Adán in the squad but not N’Diaye.

History favours Betis

El Estadio de Gran Canaria holds many a good memory for Real Betis. Last time out we won 0-3 as we galloped our way to promotion. In fact, Las Palmas have not won at home to Betis in La Liga since 1985.

One of our key players happens to hail from the very island itself. Goalscoring machine, Rubén Castro, was born, bred and started his career in Las Palmas playing 112 games for the first team before being signed by Deportivo La Coruña. He then journeyed around for six years before joining Betis…and the rest is history.

His record against his old team is fantastic. In 10 games since leaving he’s scored seven goals against them, which hasn’t exactly made him popular on his home turf and it’s likely that he won’t receive the best welcome this evening. Quique Setién, manager of Las Palmas, knows what Rubén brings commenting that he is “uncontrollable” and “very difficult to stop”. Let’s hope he bags another goal to shut the boo boys up.

This game is not going to be easy with Las Palmas not having a terrible home record (it’s certainly better than Betis’), that’s why I’m hoping Pepe Mel and his players do not underestimate their opponents and become slack, which we have seen a few times before.

Squad news is as follows: Adán, Dani Giménez, Ángel de la Calzada, Molinero, Piccini, Pezzella, Westermann, Jordi Figueras, Varela, Vargas, Petros, Xavi Torres, Fabián, Van der Vaart, Portillo, Joaquín, Cejudo, Vadillo, Van Wolfswinkel, Jorge Molina y Rubén Castro.

Dani Ceballos and Bruno are suspended.

Last time out against Celta, Betis were a vast improvement in comparison to their other home games. I think Mel should stick to a very similar starting line-up, to give a bit of consistency and a chance for the players to develop their understanding further; the squad is much changed and I’m hoping now that we can see the players begin to gel.
My starting line up: Dani Giménez; Piccini, Westermann, Pezzella, Varela; Petros, Xavi Torres, Van der Vaart, Joaquín, Vadillo; Rubén Castro.
The game kicks off at 21:05 GMT (22:05 Spain) on Saturday 12th December.

Viva el Betis!

Betis vs Atlético Madrid (Sun, 19:30 UK)

With another international break behind us, we’re all set for La Liga’s return. Betis have the difficult task this week of entertaining Diego Simeone’s tenacious Atlético Madrid side. Los Colchoneros haven’t been pulling up any trees this season, but they find themselves third in the table just a point behind Real Madrid and four off Barcelona.

Adan_entreno

Adán: key player

Over the last week there has been a very good piece of news for Betis: Antonio Adán has renewed his contract until 2019! At times this season he has single handedly kept Betis in a game, saved one from slipping away or helped us to grasp on to a win. He’s been an extremely important player so it’s great news that we’ve secured his services for a few more years.

As for the team on Sunday, we’ve heard two good pieces of news in the last day or so: Ceballos and N’Diaye are to be available. Ceballos picked up a knock whilst on international duty for the Spanish u21s, whereas N’Diaye suffered a muscular injury in the match against Athletic Bilbao a few weeks back.

ceballos betis real madrid

Ceballos (photo credit: El Rondo)

We’re still waiting for Ceballos to light up La Liga. He’s got a little of Jekyll and Hyde about him this season: shining for the under 21 side but underperforming for his club. I do think it’s only a matter of time but he does need a confidence boost soon, whether it’s just an assist or a 30 yard thunderbolt strike into the top corner Sunday night.

The rest of the team should be fairly straightforward, only Rennella and Tarek are out injured. There have also been a few rumours that Jorge Molina and Piccini could be out of the door in the January transfer window. Both have denied the rumours and stated their wish to stay at the club. I’m not sure about Piccini, I find him very erratic, but I think Molina’s days are limited so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him leave although I do think they should retain his services until the end of the season.

Atlético

Looks like the rojiblancos will be without Jackson Martínez and Juanfran Torres, therefore Simeone may probably opt for Stefan Savic alongside Uruguayan Diego Godín at the centre of defence and a familiar face to Premier League fans up top – Fernando Torres.

Also playing up front will be that little French wizard Antoine Griezmann. The 24 year old has been in fine form this season, so the Betis defence will have to be on top form themselves to nullify his extreme threat.

In light of the 13th November Paris attacks, I would like offer my deepest condolences to everyone affected by those atrocious actions. Security will be extremely high at many of the major stadiums around Europe this weekend and probably into the future. There’s a bit of an anxious feeling around the whole continent at the minute but everyone is remaining defiant and rightly so.

At this point I would usually say ‘Viva el Betis’ but I’m going to go with:

VIVA LA VIDA! 

Report: Sporting 1-2 Betis – Joaquín & R.Castro do the business!

Betis had 3 players to thank as they took all 3 points back to Andalucía: Antonio Adán, Joaquín and Rubén Castro.

The first half was a huge disappointment for Betis. A lack of urgency, ideas and ability. Sporting were completely the better team and if it wasn’t for Antonio Adán, it could have easily been 3-0 to the hosts.

Sporting went one-nil up through Castro after good wing play by on-loan dangerman Halilovic. Someone in green really should have put a foot in, but the Barcelona loanee wriggled from the wing and slid it into Castro’s feet. Castro made a movement towards the ball then turned back towards goal, completely selling out Bruno and Westermann before applying a good finish.

It needed an inspiring half time team talk from Pepe Mel to spur his Betis side into action.

Just a minute after the restart and Betis were level. Cejudo bounced on an error in the Sporting half and delivered a nice lofted cross to Rubén Castro who nodded it across into the path of Joaquín to head in across the goal into the opposite corner for his first Betis goal since resigning.

Pure poetry in motion.

Betis took the lead not long after. It started with a Sporting corner from which Adán made a save. He then whacked the ball upfield to Rubén who cleverly nudged the centre half in the back to leave him in a sprint for the ball with the other defender.

Castro got there first and from just outside the area absolutely thundered the ball which pinged off the bar and into the back of the net – Tony Yeboah style.

Since his signing in 2010, Rubén Castro has scored 34% of Betis league goals – 105 of 303 (stat via @pedritonumeros).

Antonio Adán continued his wonderful performance producing a number of vital saves in the second half.

Ceballos and Joaquín made way for Petros and Molina as Pepe Mel looked to close out the game. It really should have finished 3-1 when Molina somehow missed an open goal.

Whatever Pepe Mel said at half time worked and he will be ecstatic to take all the points back to el Villamarín.

Viva el Betis!