EuroBetis + the BlogBetis doors are opening

Hemos vuelto. We’ve returned. Eurobetis is official.

A magical second half to the campaign has been capped off the with news that Betis will be playing Europe League football next year. Monday’s 2-1 win over already-relegated Malaga put us in an unassailable position for 7th placed Getafe, confirming the fantastic news for the club.

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Salva Sevilla and co. vanquish Valencia!

That kind of performance and show in finishing was well overdue…but was probably worth waiting for! After dominating halves against Real Madrid and Celta Vigo without scoring (and playing out a 0-0 against Espanyol), the players suddenly remembered how to score during the first half against Valencia.

salva molina valencia

Salva, Molina and Juanfran (from Real Betis official website)

Without Rubén Castro and Verdú some (many) would have been forgiven in thinking that tonight may have been a long night. But when the team sheet was released, I certainly felt a sense of optimism. I liked Matilla and Xavi Torres in the anchor role, I liked the look of Salva through the middle, I liked Juanfran and Vadillo on the wings and I was hopeful of a good Molina performance through the middle.

The team had a good balance to it and my thoughts were vindicated after 8 minutes when Molina capitalised on some shabby defending to fire into the bottom corner from just outside the box. Salva then finished off two very good passing moves. The first after some great, intricate play in the middle and the second after a strong run down the wing from Vadillo and a pinpoint cross. Betis were 3-0 up at half time and cruising.

During half time I had my doubts whether the game was actually over (naturally being a Bético and having been in similar positions before). But comfortingly Betis played out the team very well. Yes, they did concede a goal and for a minute or two a Valencia comeback could have been on, but, alas, it was squashed and Betis finished much the stronger side and could have scored a few more goals.

In my opinion not one player had a bad game and one of the most pleasing aspects was the clever tactics and substitutions from Pepe Mel. He actually brought on a DM in the shape of Lolo Reyes to help close out the game and brought on some more pace, in Cedrick, to hurt Valencia on the counter, which he did. It will be interesting to see how Pepe Mel plays it with a fully fit Rubén (who returned to training today) and Verdú.

All in all, a very pleasing night! Now there is a short wait till Thursday, when Betis make their bow in the Europa League against Lyon in el Benito Villamarín.

For an in-depth and comprehensive match report please see ForeverBetis.com where the fantastic Adam gives his frequent views and analysis.

Tonight is the night – Betis (2) vs Jablonec (1)

Tonight is the night to get into the draw tomorrow. Betis can secure their place in the Europa League main draw which is taking place tomorrow in Monaco with a victory over their Czech opponents.

Betis won a week ago with a 2-1 away victory in the Czech Republic to give their team a great chance to advance. However, the lead is slender and with Betis’ shaky defence and finishing issues against Celta they need to be very careful, smart and focussed. Betis have an uncanny knack of making things really complicated for themselves from controlled positions. No doubt Pepe Mel has drilled all this into his players: this is the biggest game the club has played for years. As AFDLP put it, Betis have to enjoy, live for the moment and enrich their experience – that goes for the fans as well!

The 19 Pepe Mel has picked to send Betis to Europa League proper are: Andersen, Sara; Nacho, Jordi Figueras, Paulao, Amaya, Chica; Carlos García, Nono, Matilla, Salva Sevilla, Xavi Torres, Verdú, Cedrick, Juanfran; Chuli, Braian, Jorge Molina & Rubén Castro.

No place in the squad for Vadillo, who started last week, or for Markus Steinhofer. Perquis is out after getting injured against Celta.

Expect Pepe Mel to change his system to more of a 4-4-2, although a slightly asymmetrical one. We could see Salva Sevilla and Juanfran form a part of the starting line-up. Jorge Molina will start again upfront, hopefully with his scoring boots, and Rubén Castro will take his place on the bench having just come back from injury. Hopefully Rubén will only need to be used as part of a planned second half change and not in haste or panic.

The game kicks off at 20:30 GMT so there is a little over than an hour till kick off. For sure el Benito Villamarín will be bouncing. Mucha suerta to the players – let’s get in that draw!

 

A great first week in England for Betis

Hola Béticos y los aficionados de fútbol. Today will be my last post for two weeks as I jet off on holiday tomorrow, therefore missing the last 3 friendlies against Fulham, Hull and Everton. Despite this let’s have a look at what’s being happening en el mundo del Betis.

Rubén, Lolo and Juanfran in the gym (from Beticismo.net)

Rubén, Lolo and Juanfran in the gym (from Beticismo.net)

Betis have now been in England for just short of a week and what a great week it has been. They have played 3 games (Huddersfield, Bolton and Wolves) and won all 3! I managed to get to the first two of those games and I was impressed with what I saw. As Pepe Mel commented, it’s great to get the team accustomed to winning. It was also very nice to meet Béticos from both Spain and England. The team are playing some very nice football, scoring goals without Rubén Castro and defending much better. This is all the more impressive considering that there are 13 new faces in the Betis camp – that is half the squad! More that half in England when you consider that Alvaro Vadillo and Eder Vilarchao are not currently with the squad.

The squad yesterday got their first (and well deserved) day off; all apart from new arrivals Dídac and Braian (which is a pain to type) who had to stay and train with coach David Gómez. The players could either stay at the hotel or spend the day in Chester.

Good news on the injury front as Rubén Castro is expected to return to training tomorrow after being out with a right abductor muscle problem. Antonio Amaya, who has not featured yet in England, is also back in training as is Cedrick. Juan Carlos is not far away from returning. Lolo Reyes, Betis’ only first team defensive midfielder, also returned to the grass this morning, which is a great bonus. He has been out with a right knee ligament problem. Slight concern however, Chuli had to retire from training this morning with an injury to his right knee. We will know more on this when it has been examined by the doctor.

On the transfer front – the club are still after a central/defensive midfielder to replace the hole that has been vacated by the departures of Cañas/Beñat/Rubén Pérez. The club are willing to invest ‘two or three’ million euros to create that much needed solid spine running straight through the team. There has been lots of names banded about – Digard, Iborra, Kvist – but nothing more than that. In fact Digard has just renewed with Nice so we know it definitely won’t be him. Vlada Stosic is working overtime to plug this hole and I expect a signing to be made soon.

All in all, a great first week for Betis. The next 3 games will be much harder though as they will be up against Premier League opposition. It will be provide a good yard stick to see how well Betis get on and also provide some good preparation for the class of teams they are likely to play against in the Europa League.

In the meantime I will point you in the direction of some other Bético outlets to bring you the latest news.

The best English-based Betis site around brought to you by Adam Boyle, a season ticket holder Bético who lives in Seville www.foreverbetis.com 

Mateo González and the rest of the writers at www.alfinaldelapalmera.com  – Mateo is in the UK and currently following Betis around the country and doing an absolutely fantastic job of bringing Betis news all day long.

Another one of my favourites is www.beticismo.net – where José Mariá García is doing a sterling job.

Viva el Betis and see you in two weeks!