News round-up over the International break

First and foremost, apologies for the silent treatment – holidays and what not have somewhat taken over.

We’re coming to the end of an International break with the final games being played tonight (Monday). Spain are already safely through to the finals next summer as Group C winners. They take on Ukraine with an experimental line-up. Of most interest to me is the inclusion of Celta de Vigo striker, Nolito, who happens to be from my adopted Spanish home – Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

So, what’s been happening in the world of Betis? 

The break came at a bad time for Betis who were enjoying a good spell. They recorded back to back wins for the first time this season with wins over Sporting Gijón and Rayo! They were the first back to back victories since the end of May in fact when they beat Racing Santander and Alcorcón to seal promotion and that includes pre-season!

Betis made the most of the break and scheduled a friendly with Mérida, a team from Extremadura. The game played out 0-0 to which Betis won the succeeding penalty shoot out. It was a chance for Pepe Mel to look at the fringe players. Mel opted for Dani G in goal, a back four of Molinero, Pezzella, Jordi and Tarek, defensive midfield of Digard and Xavi Torres, and the rest made up of Kadir, Fabián, Vadillo and Rennella.

vadillo real betis

Forgotten Man: Alvaro Vadillo

Two names stand out for me: that of Didier Digard getting his first full 90 minutes for Betis and the return of the forgotten man, Alvaro Vadillo.

After injury Digard desperately needed 90 minutes to up his fitness as he is a player that could come in useful this season. Vadillo very nearly joined Rayo in the summer in a loan deal, but it fell through. Since then he has got his head gone, had to train on his own and worked hard. He got his first minutes here since May and Mel was surprised with his fitness saying he had gone “quite well”.

I’m glad Vadillo stayed and believe he can play a big part in this team too. He plays an almost identical position to Joaquín and I think he can learn a lot from this magnificent pro.

Change in Style

It’s come to light that Betis have had a style change. Instead of possession football they have gone all Sam Allardyce Bolton Wanderers on us. From a wannabe Barcelona they have transformed into a solid block, pressing hard, closing down spaces and playing much more direct. It’s a directness with precision which has become effective, as evidenced in the last game against Rayo.

This should put it into perspective: only Levante have made fewer passes in the league this year!

Pepe Mel summed it up nicely after the Rayo game, he said, “Rayo were waiting for the other Betis.” After a good start to the season, we hope this solid, yet dangerous block will continue to develop and improve.

Ceballos situation still hasn’t been resolved

Let’s be clear, Real Madrid want to sign him. He would like to move to Madrid (most young Spanish players would) but he is also happy at Betis. He has an offer on the table from Betis to make him the third highest earning player here after Rubén Castro and Joaquín; otherwise known as a bloody good offer.

There could be a deal done where Madrid sign the player, but he remains at Betis for another year or two. Madrid aren’t in a rush for him as he won’t walk into the starting line-up, they just want to snap up the talent so no one else gets him.

Players to go in January

Sporting Director, Eduardo Macià, has said that more players will leave in January than come in, if any do. Betis currently have a huge first team squad of 25, so it does need to be chopped down.

Next game for Betis is Espanyol at home on Saturday – look out for the preview.

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Prodigal Son Returns – Joaquin back home + Van Wolfswinkel

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El Pisha: ‘He returns’

The Prodigal Son has returned.

It started off with a few rumours, moved on to enigmatic Instagram messages, comments from players and the manager, then eventually on the final day (in Spain) to confirm a signing, the deal was complete. Joaquín Sánchez Rodríguez returned to Real Betis.

At the tender age of 34, Joaquín is no spring chicken but he has aged well. Last season, he was an integral player for Fiorentina in his perennial right wing position and will hope to play the same key role for Betis. The club have shown faith in him, handing the man from El Puerto de Santa Maria, 

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The Wolf of Heliopolis

Completing the squad alongside Joaquín was Norwich City forward, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel. Sporting Director, Eduardo Macia, was done a pretty fantastic job this summer to ensure that Betis have a squad to keep them in la liga. The club have signed 10 players for a grand total of 7.5 million euros.

Joaquín is initially costing €500,000, but if Betis stay up they will have to pay Fiorentina around €1m more, which I’m sure they will not mind paying at all! Even though he is 34, he has been given a very generous three year contract.

Van Wolfswinkel has joined a loan for the season with the option to buy at the end for around €2.5m. He has signed from Norwich, although he was on-loan at St Etienne last season. It is fair to say that he hasn’t exactly set either league alight after coming highly recommended from Sporting Lisbon. He’ll be hoping to rediscover his scoring boots!

Alvaro Vadillo’s move to Rayo Vallecano fell through, which means he remains at Betis, which I think is good. When he’s on form, he is a brilliant player and I’ve no doubt he can play a vital role in the much needed winger position.

Here is the full squad:

Goalkeepers: Adán & Dani Giménez

Defenders: Molinero, Piccini, Bruno, Pezzella, Westermann, Tarek & Vargas (midfield as well)

Midfield: Digard, Xavi Torres, N’Diaye, Petros, Matilla, Cejudo, Joaquín, Van der Vaart, Ceballos, Portillo, Kadir & Vadillo

Forwards: Rubén Castro, Jorge Molina, Van der Wolfswinkel & Rennella

Oh, I forgot to mention – Betis lost 5-0 to Real Madrid at the weekend. Bit of a shambles of a game from a Betis perspective. Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez both scored two each with Benzema chipping in the other. Ruben Castro also missed a penalty. But enough of that. You win some, you lose some.

Next up is Real Sociedad a week on Saturday after the international break.

Passion of 40,000 needs to be matched but Betis won’t spend anymore

Not everything is going swimmingly at el Benito Villamarín during the pre-season.

The astounding finish to last season by the team to earn promotion back to La Liga seems to be a distant memory now. The buzz around the club, particularly on-field, seems to have slipped away slightly.

40,000 signed up! Queues outside the stadium (image from sevilla.abc.es - Raúl Doblado)

40,000 signed up! Queues outside the stadium (image from sevilla.abc.es – Raúl Doblado)

Pre-season is a time to experiment with players and formations, a time to get a few minutes under the belt and increase fitness in preparation to the all-important first game. Results don’t matter and nobody gets any points under the jornada 1. All that is a given, but as a fan you are still craving for a little glimmer, a little something to whet your appetite.

The fantastic form since Christmas has been dashed away, with a rather unimpressive one win in six. Betis’ poor performances against the likes of San Roque de Lepe, Vitoria Setúbal and Darmstadt 98, thankfully, have not put the fans off.

Off-field things have been looking extremely rosy. An unbelievable 40,000 fans have purchased a season-ticket for the new season. El Benito Villamarín is a 52,000 seater stadium, which means at least 77% will be sold out each home game.

Betis have signed a fantastic kit deal with Adidas, upgrading from Macron and also have the benefit of more incoming money from the TV rights of being in La Liga.

Despite all this, the club still insists it has ‘no dinero‘. This no money stance has meant the signing of lesser known players, such as Petros and Pezzella. These players could turn out to be amazing signings and everybody might be frothing at the mouth over the vision and insight of the scouting system.

The club have no doubt done some very good business; Van der Vaart on a free is brilliant. Yet, it is obvious the club need two, three, possible even four more players to make them fighting fit for La Liga. However, the club isn’t willing to spend any more money, only free or loan players.

Little and Large: Molina y Rubén Castro

Reliance on Rubén can’t last forever

The lack of goals and velocity is a bit scary. Rubén Castro is an absolutely superb player, but if he doesn’t pop it in the back of the net, who will? I have always highlighted the uneasy reliance on Castro as something that Betis need to address. Another striker is key. There is no chance of Osvaldo joining now, hopefully Maciá has someone else in line.

Betis have released three players – Kadir, Lolo Reyes and Alvaro Vadillo.

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Vadillo: Huge talent lost (image from marca.com)

Vadillo is a sad loss. Still at the age of 20, it seems like he has been around for a good while. Vadillo was, and still is, a huge, huge talent and it is a shame to see him go. Since 2011 he has played 46 intermittent games for Betis, mainly due to two cruciate knee ligament injuries.

This terrible luck has undoubtedly stunted his potential, meaning when he has been in the team he has been unable to truly impress like he did when he first appeared in the team becoming the second ever youngest player to appear in La Liga.

The start of the proper campaign is three weeks around the corner, enough time to sort out these teething problems, but not enough time to flounder about. The team and management need to start now.

Betis on British Soil

Real Betis landed today in Manchester and to their new home for the time being in Mottram. A total of 26 players made the journey to help prepare Betis for the up and coming season. All 10 new signings also made the trip and mostly were paired up with each other for room share – the list below shows all the pairs (new signings in bold). Alvaro Vadillo would also be included but he is away on international duty with the Spanish u19 squad who are playing in their equivalent of the Euros.

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New verdiblanco: defender Jordi Figueras

Andersen-Steinhöfer
Guillermo Sara-Jordi Figueras 
Amaya-Nacho
Perquis-Nosa
Paulao-Salva Sevilla
Lolo Reyes-Cedrick
Matilla-Juan Carlos
Juanfran-Chuli
Jorge Molina-Rubén Castro
Caro-Javi Montoya
Carlos García-Nono
Álex Martínez-Sergio Rodríguez
Chica-Verdú

mottram st andrew

Mottram Hall (courtesy of beticismo.net)

Great to see so many canteranos in the squad – Caro, Javi Montoya, Sergio Rodríguez, Alex Martínez and Carlos García. Very excited to see these get some playing time.

The hotel that Betis are staying in is an extremely grand hotel set out in the small village of Mottram St Andrew, which has around 600 habitants.

Have a look here on beticismo.net for further photos of the very posh hotel.

I haven’t really had time to name and comment upon all the new signings thus far as there has been so many, however, during the friendlies in England I will try to highlight their performances and see how they are settling in.

I also hope to get a few pictures as I will be travelling to Huddersfield tomorrow night (Weds 24th) and Bolton (Fri 26th) to watch los verdiblancos! Note that Betis will be in England until the 12th August – just 6 days before the kick off the campaign for real against Real Madrid.

The players have already had their first training session in very pleasant weather (if not a tad stuffy) and Béticos will be glad to know that Rubén Castro and Javi Matilla featured after picking up slight knocks last week, however Lolo Reyes is still injured. Have a look at the video below from Betis TV showing the players during this first session.

Betis on British Soil.

Real Betis landed today in Manchester and to their new home for the time being in Mottram. A total of 26 players made the journey to help prepare Betis for the up and coming season. All 10 new signings also made the trip and mostly were paired up with each other for room share – the list below shows all the pairs (new signings in bold). Alvaro Vadillo would also be included but he is away on international duty with the Spanish u19 squad who are playing in their equivalent of the Euros.

jordi_camiseta

New verdiblanco: defender Jordi Figueras

Andersen-Steinhöfer
Guillermo Sara-Jordi Figueras 
Amaya-Nacho
Perquis-Nosa
Paulao-Salva Sevilla
Lolo Reyes-Cedrick
Matilla-Juan Carlos
Juanfran-Chuli
Jorge Molina-Rubén Castro
Caro-Javi Montoya
Carlos García-Nono
Álex Martínez-Sergio Rodríguez
Chica-Verdú

mottram st andrew

Mottram Hall (courtesy of beticismo.net)

Great to see so many canteranos in the squad – Caro, Javi Montoya, Sergio Rodríguez, Alex Martínez and Carlos García. Very excited to see these get some playing time.

The hotel that Betis are staying in is an extremely grand hotel set out in the small village of Mottram St Andrew, which has around 600 habitants.

Have a look here on beticismo.net for further photos of the very posh hotel.

I haven’t really had time to name and comment upon all the new signings thus far as there has been so many, however, during the friendlies in England I will try to highlight their performances and see how they are settling in.

I also hope to get a few pictures as I will be travelling to Huddersfield tomorrow night (Weds 24th) and Bolton (Fri 26th) to watch los verdiblancos! Note that Betis will be in England until the 12th August – just 6 days before the kick off the campaign for real against Real Madrid.

The players have already had their first training session in very pleasant weather (if not a tad stuffy) and Béticos will be glad to know that Rubén Castro and Javi Matilla featured after picking up slight knocks last week, however Lolo Reyes is still injured. Have a look at the video below from Betis TV showing the players during this first session.

A new verdiblanco – Bienvenido Joan Verdú

A piece of news thverduat nobody anticipated, Real Betis have completed the signing of, as the Spanish like to say, un crack! Despite being given a 4 year contract at the age of 30, Joan Verdú is very, very good business. He is a clever midfielder, experienced, great on the ball and a leader, and it makes saying adios to Beñat much easier.

Verdú arrives in the green and white side of Seville from the gold and red of Cataluña, Barcelona-based Espanyol to be precise. He has a great reputation in Spain and we will act as a good mentor for the younger midfielders, such as Alvaro Vadillo, Nosa, Nono and Vilarchao. Even better news is that Verdú was free as he was out of contract. Many expected him to follow the money and he was linked with a big offer from Greek side Olympiakos. But not to be. He joined the ambitious and passion club that is Real Betis.

I feel that Pepe Mel, Vlada Stosic and the rest of the decision makers and strengthening the squad nicely ahead of the up and coming Europa League campaign.

Verdú is the 6th pre-season signing. The others include:

Danish goalkeeper, Stephen Anderson. Exciting midfielder Juanfran from Real Madrid Castilla. Winger, Cedric, from Numancia. Chile international Lorenzo Reyes from is a midfielder bought from Huachipato. And finally (so far), striker Chuli arrives from Recreativo.

lolo reyes

Lorenzo Reyes in action for Chile against Brazil