Rubén Castro and Joaquín steer Betis to victory

Rubencastro_ceballos_abrazo

Rubén & Dani Ceballos (via sevilla.abc.es)

The combination Béticos had been dreaming of all summer became reality on Saturday evening when Rubén Castro and Joaquín joined forces.

Not only did they just adorn the same green and white shirt on what was the 108th anniversary of this great football club, they combined through their footballing forces to create the match-winning goal in the 41st minute. Jorge Molina played the ball out wide to Joaquín who was just there occupying the space on the right wing, about five yards back from the edge of the box. Exactly where you would want your winger when the play is on the other side and exactly what Betis have been missing for a long time.

As the ball travelled to Joaquín, the Real Sociedad defence were on the scramble to get out to him. His first touch was ok, he readjusted slightly, then whipped in a majestic ball to the far post on line with the 6 yard box where waiting was just the man you would want: Rubén Castro, who had just peeled off the last defender. A diving header later and the ball was in the opposite corner. Wonderful.

David Moyes had been Rubén Castro’d.

There were many other pleasing aspects to this result. One that wasn’t pleasing was the sending off of centre-midfielder Petros on the stroke of half time for his second booking. However, with 10 men Betis didn’t falter. Pepe Mel showed a good tactical side combined with intelligence to see the game out, something which he has been critiqued for in the past.

After the sending off, Mel brought off Molina and replaced him with Dani Ceballos, whereas David Moyes through on the artillery in Chory Castro.

However, Betis had a new name in the centre of defence: Heiko Westermann. The German made his debut on Saturday and was a solid wall. Something else that Betis needed, after a bit of a shaky start. He added order and physicality. It doesn’t matter than La Real are yet to score this season. He did a job and he did it bloody well, getting his head on everything and adding a bit of tenacity to proceedings.

Betis showed a spirit on Saturday which had been missing a bit during pre-season (understandbly) and the opening couple of games.Yes, they suffered and it wasn’t vintage, but in front of just less than 40,000 fans, this was the real Betis.  There were two debuts on Saturday and both played brilliantly: Joaquín and Westermann.

With lots of new signings, the team are going to take a while to gel and produce, but this was a great sign of the things to come.

You can see highlights of the game here courtesy of the fantastic www.videosdelbetis.com

A new Bético in the stands

At the weekend Linus Lövgren (@LajnusLovgren), huge Betis fan and friend of BlogBetis.com, made the trip from Sweden to Sevilla to watch his first Betis game. Linus has been making great videos about Betis for years (see his youtube channel here) and is well known in the community, he even managed to get a few mentions in the local papers!

Nice one Linus y mucho Betis!

Preview: Betis vs Real Sociedad (Saturday, 9pm UK)

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Joaquin in training this week with Don Pepe

Betis have had a whole two weeks to recover from their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Real Madrid. Plenty of time to recuperate physically and mentally, just in time to teach David Moyes and his merry men a footballing lesson.

The big team news floating around this week is that new signing, Joaquin, may not be fit enough to make his debut after 9 long years, due to a knee injury (and not his hand/wrist which he injured punching a table in the midst of transfer negotiations). Great news for beticos is that he trained with the team with no problems on Friday morning.

New signing Vargas returned from international duty with Peru to train with the team also, but central midfield Xavi Torres is not fit. With Didier Digard also out and Van der Vaart still recovering, Pepe Mel will be looking for someone to accompany midfield tank, Alfred N’Diaye.

Depending on who Mel picks, will decide how he wants to approach the game. Choosing Petros will see the team sit back in a more defensive, come and break us down style. The other option is Dani Ceballos who will provide an attacking flair and go at Real Sociedad from the off.

In defence, Betis will be without the injured centre-back Pezzella, who has not done too much to instil an unbreakable record of confidence throughout his first two games. He is likely to be replaced by fellow new signing, Heiko Westermann, who is getting their with his fitness levels.

Ricky Van Wolfswinkel has been training well and impressing potential partner in crime, Ruben Castro. The problem for Van Wolfswinkel is the language barrier, but according to Pepe Mel, he is “intelligent and will do well”.

In his press conference on Friday, Pepe Mel had a few interesting words to say. Of Joaquin, he said he is the “essence of what Betis are all about” and that he will get minutes on Saturday. The essense of Betis and the essense of Mel, is attack. Let’s be honest, he just doesn’t do defensive very well, but what does that matter when your motto is ‘Long live Betis, even when you lose’? The fans want to see attacking, exciting football and with Joaquin, that’s what they’ll get.

Don Pepe assured fans that Betis are going to have a season that is “tranquilo” and “bueno“. Bueno is good, but I’m not sure tranquilo is possible at Betis? If it is, then a calm first season of stability might go down well!

With David Moyes, La Real have a solid defensive set-up, shipping zero goals in their first two jornadas. At the business end of the pitch, however, they aren’t setting the world alight and have not managed to score a single goal this season. We shouldn’t be fooled too much by this as any team with Carlos Vela, Jonathas and Chory Castro have the quality to punish a not so savvy defence. They also now have Illarramendi marshalling the midfield after signing from Real Madrid in the summer on a massive contract, who is bound to be a hit player for them.

It’s going to be an interesting encounter. Both sides are not exactly flush with goals, which with Betis’ predictable unpredictability, could mean that we’ll witness an absolute glut of them. With Joaquin likely to play some part, the crowd is going to be absolutely wild.

The kick off is 10pm Spanish time/9pm UK and will be shown live on Sky Sports.