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!


Huddersfield Town 2 – 4 Real Betis: Debut hat-trick for Chuli

Betis kicked off their English pre-season campaign with a bangon Wednesday night thanks to a mightily impressive display from new centre-forward Chuli, who grabbed himself a hat-trick.

2013-07-24 21.41.35

Betis bus outside the John Smith Stadium in Huddersfield

It was a fine evening in Huddersfield which was accompanied with a ‘room for improvement’ performance, particularly in the defensive department. Unfortunately (particularly for me), Rubén Castro, who was supposed to start, pulled out of the squad altogether which I can only assume is down to the injury that ruled him out of the last couple of games. Correct decision; there is no need to be rushed back.

photo 15

Betis enjoy their first game on English soil

The first half 11 lined up as so: Anderson in goal; Steinhofer (debutee), Perquis, Paulao, Nacho in defence; Carlos García, Nosa, Verdu and Nono in midfield; Chuli (debutee) and Molina up front. It was by no means a conventional 4-4-2 with Nono playing from wide left and Verdu through the middle.

It didn’t start to brightly with Huddersfield having the better of the play and James Vaughan put them ahead after 11 minutes with a back post header. It could have got a touch unsavoury in the 17th minute when Nono and Clayton squared up after a tough 50/50. Nono did thrust his head at Clayton and probab

ly would have seen red if it had been a competitive match, but his handbags got him a yellow card instead. The play settled and Betis got their passing game going. Patience finally paid off when Verdú nodded home Steinhofer’s cross for his first goal in verdiblanco colores. Two minutes later Betis were in the lead when Chuli finished off a Paulao flick on at the back post with a good finish into the roof of the net.

Pepe Mel made 9 changes at half time: Guille Sara came on in goal for his debut; Chica, Jordi Figueras (debutee), Caro and Alex Martínez in defence; Matilla, Nono (DMF) and Salva Sevilla (AMF) in midfield; then Chuli stayed central, Juanfran on the right, Sergio Rodríguez on the left.

Within the first 6 minutes of the second half Betis were 4-1 up thanks to the unstoppable combination of Juanfran and Chuli. You could see Pepe Mel getting frustrated at the lack of fast ball from the goalkeeper and defence as he gesticulated and shouted towards new goalkeeper Sara. From a set piece Sara gathered and distributed accurately and rapidly to Juanfran on the

right wing who whipped in a cross which was finished by Chuli. Chuli’s hat-trick goal was much of the same. Lots of promise with that combination indeed. Huddersfield grabbed a goal back in the 52nd minute with Paterson looping one over Sara’s head but a comeback was never on the cards.

Nothing much more happened after that and the game petered out with Betis keeping possession in the centre of the park. It was a good run out for Betis who did look sharp at times and a bit rusty in others. Verdu looked tidy and direct in the first half. Nono looked tidy with the ball but he never looked too threatening in making a breakthrough. Jorge Molina looked a little tired and couldn’t get his rhythm during his first half.

No doubt the stars of the show were Juanfran and the taker home of the match ball, Chuli.

I also must mention the Béticos who made the journey over from Seville. The match day announcer told that 40 made the trip, which allowed me to try out some very rusty Spanish. Plus I could see around 10-20 non-Spanish Béticos. Huddersfield staff were very pleasant and helpful and the fans were also very friendly.

Mucho Betis, mucho Betis eh eh!

photo 5

Pepe Mel stalking the touchline in the second half