Ceballos to sign for Real Madrid after rejecting new Betis contract

After weeks of rumours and uncertainty, it looks like the Dani Ceballos saga is finally going to be over and completed in the next few hours after the player flew up to Madrid on Sunday evening.

With him always likely to leave, many Betis fans were hopeful the young superstar to-be would sign a new contract and gather more la liga experience before flying the nest, not to mention increase his buy-out clause in the meantime. However, it looks like Dani is seizing the opportunity whilst it’s there and is set to sign on the dotted line for the Primera and Champions League winners.

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Dani Ceballos: The Soon-To-Be Star of La Liga

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.

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Poyet Slams Fans As Víctor Responds With A Win

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.

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New Manager, New Betis? Update in the Betisphere

It’s not the first time that a new manager arrives and it looks like a miracle has happened in the ranks, but you can add Víctor and Betis to that list.

In his four short days in charge, Víctor Sánchez del Amo did something to produce a vast change on the pitch – exactly what the club had hoped for when they sacked Poyet and hired him. A certified miracle-worker he may not be just yet, but it’s a promising start nonetheless.

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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.

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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! 

Pepe Mel – should he stay or go?

Just when I, and a few other people, thought Betis had found their style, a new effective way to play, they have put in two very poor performances in the last two weeks.

A crushing 3-1 defeat at home to Espanyol last weekend and a lacklustre 1-1 draw away at Granada yesterday has left many béticos with a sense of emptiness and lack of optimism in regards to the future; in particular to the future of cult hero Pepe Mel. Before the international break things were fairly rosy at the club but since the return there’s a certain lingering sense of foreboding around the club.

ABC de Sevilla journalist, Mateo González, writes passionately today about the club asking – do Betis know how to play? What is our thing? Do we keep possession and try and break teams down with nice, attractive football? Do we sit back and play the counter attack with Joaquín and Rubén Castro punishing teams on the break? Do we play with a quick tempo or a slow tempo or something in between?

The answer is I don’t know. Neither do the fans and neither do the team.

Yesterday at Granada, who were rock bottom, Betis looked bad. They conceded after 2 minutes and that threw them off the whole game. Rubén Castro slotted home a penalty near the end of the first half during a period of 10 minutes were Betis looked half-dangerous. Aside from that, we didn’t see anything in regards to flair, spirit or capability.

More passion and the Betis way please Pepe!

More passion and the Betis way please Pepe!

Pepe Mel said, “we had too many hesitations”. It seems to be the same problem: if it’s not Rubén Castro then it’s nobody. Mel started Rennella up top who contributed precisely nothing. Summer signing Portillo, who hasn’t really impressed me, also did nothing.

Despite signing a new contract after months of wrangling and committing his immediate future to Betis, Dani Ceballos was left on the bench, although he is easily one of our best players. Why? Not sure. He came on in the second half and had no impact whatsoever. Don’t really blame him, the game was half dead.

Let’s be clear, Betis have made a decent start to the season. They are sat in 10th place, with 12 points from 9 games: three wins, draws and losses apiece (exactly the same as Sevilla). The only aim of this season is safety. Do not get relegated. So, for me Pepe Mel’s job should not be under fire.

However, a few béticos are starting to panic and get a little worried about the unfolding situation. It seems that Betis have lost their mojo and impetus. Historically, Pepe Mel’s team are attacking, exciting and good to watch. Defence was always a second thought and this fitted the Betis philosophy perfectly. It didn’t work all the time but the fans liked it. However, Mel got accused of a lack of tactile nouse, the inability to adopt a different approach to get a result. I know I used to write about it at the time.

Build the team around Ceballos

Build the team around Ceballos

Right now we are seeing a whole lot of nothing. As Mateo González says, with the likes of Rubén Castro, Joaquín and Ceballos, Betis have the talent that their rivals for relegation just don’t have. The team needs to be centred around these 3 – sin duda! Combine these with Alfred N’Diaye in centre-midfield, Westermann/Bruno centre-defence and Antonio Adán in goal and Betis have a very solid team.

We have seen a few versions of Betis already this season and right now according to Miguel Ángel Benítez Merelo, we are seeing a flat and grey version. Like Mateo, Miguel writes passionately about the two versions of Pepe Mel. The first when he took over and the second version since his reinstatement. Miguel says Mel is now more defensive and more resultadista – driven by results and not the brand of football that made him a fan favourite.

He and I’m sure the majority of the fans want to see good football. Boring just isn’t Betis. The club motto – long live Betis even when we lose – relates to the football played. If the players but in an entertaining performance full of heart and determination, the fans will love them. Despite this there does need to be an element, a slight element, of results play. The last thing we want is to be back in la segunda again. This balance needs to be struck.

Watching the game yesterday I was urging the team to do something. At 1-1 the game was there for the taking for both sides. I wanted to see Betis go for it! Try and sneak that second goal – like they did at Sporting Gijón – and show a bit of ambition. If they concede whilst going to win the game then so be it, shit happens. That’s what used to happen. Perhaps Mel is trying to move Betis forward to become a more ‘effective’ team? Miguel doesn’t want this Mel.

I do agree, but I think getting rid of Mel now would be both cold and stupid. They did it last time and the club still ended up getting relegated. He deserves to have the time to get his team playing the way he wants. What he does need to do though is but Dani Ceballos in the centre of midfield and build a team around him.

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.

Second half of pre-season continues in Germany

The second half of Betis’ pre-season continued today as the team touched down in Germany. I think it is fair to say that Betis have been much more successful off the pitch so far, than they have on it.

Let’s start with the positives:

  • 39,055 – the number of season-ticket holders that have joined during the sign up period. 9,000 more than last season! Superb return.
  • Golden boy Dani Ceballos has signed his first professional contract with the first team till June 2016 with the option to renew for a year. The club will be hoping to tie him down on a longer term contract before the end of the year.
  • The squad has been strengthened with a number of decent signings: Van der Vaart, Tarek, Digard, Petros and Pezzella, with two or three more likely to come in.

Not so good news:

  • The football on the pitch has been inconsistent to say the least. Two losses in four games – to San Roque de Lepe and Vitória de Setúbal – have hardly set the world alight. They have also drawn against Athletic Bilbao, which isn’t too bad, and beat Coria CF as expected.
osvaldo

Osvaldo: may be joining Betis on their pre-season tour (image via estadiodeportivo.com)

With their arrival in Germany, Betis have finished the ‘first stage’ of their pre-season, which consisted of the usual training camp in Montecastillo (near Jerez) where they are put through their paces. They have taken the same players over to Germany who started the pre-season (+ Ceballos), but have left a few of the youngsters at home to join back up with Juan Merino’s B team. They have also left a few first team players away – Vadillo, Kakir, Lolo Reyes (who is in Chile looking for a club) and Pacheco (who is going to sign for Alavés).

Betis have arrived in Germany to: 1) get away from the Seville heat, and 2) face slightly different opposition. They will play two games in Angela Merkel’s kingdom: Darmstadt 98 (Friday 31st July) and Borussia Dortmund the day after (Saturday 1st August) – and no I’m not sure which bright spark planned that one. The Borussia Dortmund friendly will certainly be the most testing opposition that Betis will face during the pre-season.

Pepe Mel is still looking for a forward and has been heavily linked with former Southhampton player Dani Osvaldo in recent times, although he is proving difficult to pin down. To complete the ‘project’, brain child of Mel and Macià, Betis still need a defender and a fast winger. Recently linked to the club has been Werder Bremen player, Izet Hajrovic. The Bosnian international is 23 years old and player at the World Cup last year in Brazil.

The other name that keeps cropping up in regards to Real Betis is Marco Asensio. Asensio is an employee of Real Madrid who played for Mallorca last season on loan. He is going to be loaned out again this season with Madrid wanting the Spanish youngster to get some minutes under his belt. Asensio is a good talent and recently starred during Spain’s u19 European championship victory earlier in the month where he played alongside his new mate, Dani Ceballos. Despite this, he won’t be going anywhere until 15th August as he is competing in Real Madrid’s pre-season tour.