Hay Betis!

Yesterday’s match was one of the most enjoyable ones of the season for me. The fans were in jubilant mood, which was buoyed by the team providing some much needed entertainment, especially for the second half.

Getafe started the game with a super intense tempo, knowing full well that their la liga fate was theirs to determine: get a win and they were safe. They pressed high and hard and put Betis under the cosh coming close on a number of occasions. Scepovic really should have scored from a Sarabia cross but his diving header whistled past the post. But Betis resisted and eventually began to get a grip on the game and came close too when Jorge Molina was slipped through gloriously by Dani Ceballos. The man from Alcoy in his last game in green and white saw his name in lights but couldn’t apply the finish. To be fair Guaita stuck out a huge left hand and made a fine save. Betis should have had a penalty with one of the clearest hand balls you’re ever likely to see from Pereira, but protests were ignored by the ref.

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A day of farewells & sub-plots

Today’s final game brings with it a number of farewells (some certain, others more hypothetical). Entangled within these farewells are various sub-plots as the 2015/16 la liga season draws to a close.

Of the certain farewells, we say adios to Jorge Molina after six years at Betis. The big man up top has been a loyal servant for los verdiblancos playing 217 times and scoring 77 goals. He’s helped Betis to achieve two promotions to la liga, the first time being in his first season where he was the top goalscorer with 18 goals. The following season he made his primera division debut at the tender age of 29! His time at Betis has come to a natural end, having only scored one goal this season, but fans won’t forget the good times.

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Preview: Real Madrid vs Betis

molina

Can Molina score again at the Bernabeu?

After last week’s respectable 1-1 draw against Villarreal, Betis will face a far tougher test this weekend against Rafa Benítez’s Real Madrid.

If Betis didn’t know they had returned to La Liga standards, they certainly will be Saturday night. However, Betis shouldn’t be daunted. They have been here before not too long ago and manager Pepe Mel, who returns to his homeland, has managed Betis to over 100 games in the top flight.

Betis made several mistakes last week against the yellow submarine, but managed to get away with it. There shall be no such letting off against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and his chums.

By Madrid’s very high standards, they have made a slow start, albeit they have only played one game! However, that one game was against newly promoted Sporting Gijón, who Betis comfortably finished above last season. Madrid stuttered to a 0-0 draw away from home.

This weekend though could see the return of their famous BBC attack – Bale, Benzema and Cristiano. The Welshman and Frenchman have returned to training this week and will be sure to play a part this weekend. That coupled with the fact they will be in front of their home crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu means Betis will be facing a different beast to that faced by Gijón the week before.

Betis are likely to line up the same as last week. Perhaps the only change that might occur is Jorge Molina coming out for someone more defensive, for example a fit-again Didier Digard to make his competitive debut.

Dani Ceballos has trained ‘marvellously’ this week according to Pepe Mel, but his situation is no more clear. He’ll be on the bench again to come on as an impact player, although we could certainly do with having him on from the start.

Last time Betis journeyed to the Bernabeu two years ago, they narrowly lost 2-1. Only a late goal from Isco managed to get Madrid all 3 points. From that team in 2013, there is only one player that will make the squad this weekend – Jorge Molina.

From a bético perspective, let’s hope Saturday night’s game will be just as close, with perhaps Rubén Castro sneaking a winner in the 87th minute this time.

Kick off is 21:30 GMT.

Mucho Betis!

Segunda Team of the Month – May

El once ideal – the ideal eleven – for the month of May was announced the other day for the Liga Adelante.

And guess which two free-scoring Béticos were included?

Segunda Team of May

Segunda Team of May

Barring the slip up in the last game against Tenerife, it has been an almost perfect month. Four wins out of five and 16 goals scored.

Five of the Best: Betis 5 – 1 Lugo

Over 30,000 spectators were in attendance at the Benito Villamarín on Sunday evening to watch Betis demolish Lugo by five goals to one.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 19.23.57Betis are now six points clear of both Sporting Gijón and Girona, who could only draw against Zaragoza. Both teams are tied on 72 points, with four games left to play. This means that Betis need just six points from the last remaining four games to confirm beyond doubt their return to La Liga.

Betis got off to a good start and were 1-0 up after 13 minutes thanks to a certain Rubén Castro with his 27th goal of the season. Castro was slid through by Alfred N’Diaye, who had perhaps his best game of the season for Betis, just beyond the half way line. He then closed into the box at an angle and smashed the ball into the roof of the net. An emphatic finish. Lugo threatened temporarily to gate crash the party moved and drew level through Peña on 22 minutes. Ferreiro then had a few long range efforts, but didn’t force Adán into any saves, highlighting the difference in class between the two teams. Jorge Molina put Betis in front just before half time with a tap in from a free-kick after a knock down from N’Diaye.

Los verdiblancos started the second half like a house on fire. They really could have had four more goals before the 60th minute, but settled for just the two instead. After 13 consecutive Castro or Molina goals, Betis showed they could share them out with Molinero timing his run well to slot into the bottom corner from a Molina pass. Molina then really should have scored after again being set up by N’Diaye, he missed from seven yards with just the ‘keeper to beat. It wasn’t long before Castro once again showed his lethal finishing, after being set up by Molina.

A series of substitutions really slowed the game down and Betis moved into 2nd gear. The rout was completed by substitute Vincenzo Rennella, who scored a lovely header with just a few minutes left to play after a super cross from fellow substitute Cejudo.

Betis now play again on Thursday away to Racing, who are floundering in the relegation zone, but will be desperate for a win. Both Sporting and Girona have away ties on Wednesday, which means if Girona lose and Betis win then promotion is confirmed as they have a better head-to-head record and would be nine points ahead with nine to play for. Betis play Sporting on the last game of the season, so their head-to-head isn’t yet complete.

All in all a brilliant weekend for Pepe Mel and co and a La Liga return is looking exceptionally close now!

Viva el Betis!

sporting 3-1 racing

girona 1- 1 zara

Promotion nears for Betis after victory Mallorca thanks to Castro and Molina

I feel that Sunday morning in Palma, Mallorca, was a game changer for Betis in their quest for La Liga promotion.

The men of the moment

The men of the moment

Quite frankly, Betis’ record in recent years at the Iberostar, home of RCD Mallorca, has been nothing short of disastrous. Los verdiblancos’ last win at Mallorca came in the 2001/02 season when both teams were playing in La Liga. Betis have been back 10 times since then and haven’t won a single game (four draws and six defeats). As for Real Betis manager, Pepe Mel, he had previously lost four out of four visits to the Balearic Island.

The pressure was laid on even thicker after away wins for both Girona and Sporting Gijón on Saturday, which brought them within one point and three points, respectively, of Real Betis at the summit of La Segunda.

So, if ever there was an opportunity to break their voodoo, Sunday morning was it.

Step up: Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina.

I think I’ve probably mentioned these two before on here, but they did the business again on Sunday to bring a return to La Liga just that bit closer. A goal apiece from the front men helped Betis to a 2-1 win. Both goals were absolute peaches.

Ruben Castro scored a superb individual goal, à la Lionel Messi v Jerome Boateng, to leave the defender on his backside with a face full of grass (see the video below). The second goal was a brilliant team goal with a very smart one-two between that faithful duo of Castro-Molina, leaving Molina with a simple slide in to put Betis 2-0 up.

In scoring the first goal, Rubén Castro equaled Francisco González ‘Paquirri’ as the highest goalscorer in the history of this famous club from Seville. Castro now has 109 goals in 199 games – in la primera: 44 in 93 games, la segunda: 53 in 80, Copa del Rey: 10 in 20 and Europa League: 2 in 6. Not too shabby.

Table from betisweb.com

Ruben Castro’s goalscoring records: Table from betisweb.com

The robin to his batman, the Kel to his Kenan, the Cole to his Yorke, the Dr Watson to his Sherlock Holmes (I could go on…) is Jorge Molina. The man from the Spanish east coast has 73 goals in the green and white of Betis. Although not prolific, Molina has been in fine form this season scoring 16 goals.

The Spanish newspaper, Estadio Deportivo, commented:

Con Rubén, todo es más fácil.”

That is true, everything is easier with Castro, however, Betis didn’t make light work of the second half after conceding a goal to make it 2-1. The struggled, fought and nearly gave it away, but hung on in the end.

Betis boss, Pepe Mel, must have been bubbling with joy inside. He said,

“This is the game I have felt proudest of my team.”

Mel has targeted 80 points as the golden number for promotion. Betis are currently five points off that on 75. With four games left to get to the magic mark, Betis are well on track. However, we have seen things fall apart on a monstrous scales before with Betis, so they should be taking nothing for granted until it is mathematically proven, which I’m sure are Pepe Mel’s thoughts too.

Hola de nuevo!

Ha pasada mucho tiempo…

It has been a whole calendar year and some since I last caressed my fingers over the keyboard of Béticoblog. My very last post was saying hasta luego to Don Pepe Mel after his sacking from Real Betis Balompié on 2nd December 2013. How things have changed since then both for me and for Betis!

As everyone knows Pepe Mel is back again leading los verdiblancos! Evidence that the decision to sack him wasn’t the brightest idea from the board. However, in the immediate time between his two stints in charge, Betis have been in nothing short of turmoil.

Four managers in a year. Yes, FOUR. Two changes in Club President and one relegation. Some things haven’t changed though. Bad news that is unchanged: The saga with Señor Manuel Ruiz de Lopera is still on-going in the Seville courts. Good news that is unchanged: Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina are still firing the goals in.

So after:

1) Juan Carlos Garrido

2) Gaby Calderón

3) Julio Velázquez

4) Juan Merino,

Pepe Mel is back with a vengeance. Luckily, his stint at West Bromwich Albion wasn’t too successful and he is now back where he belongs. Since he took charge again, Betis have gone from strength to strength and are looking in fantastic shape to make return to La Liga. The table below as on Sunday 26th April makes for joyous viewing.

Arriba! Arriba! Arriba!

Arriba! Arriba! Arriba!

Betis’ form has been fantastic since the turn of the year. The last 10 games reads: W10, D1, L1. Now, with 7 games left to play, Betis are 8 points clear from dropping out of the automatic promotion places. This weekend, despite putting in a pretty rubbish display, we recorded a 2-1 away victory at Deportivo Aláves in the Basque Country thanks to goals from, you guessed it, Jorge Molina and Rubén Castro, and a rock solid performance from Adán in goal.

Little and Large: Molina y Rubén Castro

Little and Large: Molina y Rubén Castro

Next up is Llagostera at home (who just drew 0-0 with Betis rivals Sporting Gijón). I shall be provided updates of Betis’ progress as the strive for the glory land of La Liga! Viva el Betis!

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.

Confirmed team news: Betis – Valencia

The starting 11 has been confirmed for tonight’s game and it is as follows:

Guille Sara in goal; Chica, Amaya, Paulao and Nacho in defence; Matilla and Xavi Torres set back in midfield; Salva Sevilla through the middle; Vadillo and Juanfran providing pace and skill on the wings and the big man Jorge Molina up top.

I like the look of that team. It is well balanced and there is a good deal of pace out wide. Salva will be providing the magic in the centre of midfield with the absence of Verdú and Jorge WILL be providing the goals with the absence of Rubén.

That does mean that the impressive Cedrick starts on the bench as does Nosa. There is a return to the squad for number 9 Chuli. The rest of the bench consists of Braian, Jordi, Lolo Reyes and Anderson.

Valencia incidentally, line up like this:

Diego Alves; Joao Pereira, Ricardo Costa, Mathieu, Bernat; Banega, Oriol Romeu, Parejo; Jonas, Pabón y Postiga.

A familiar name second from the end. Pabón will get a good cheer at the beginning but hopefully Paulao and Amaya can keep him quiet during the game.

It is kick off time in just over 30 minutes. Mucho Betis mucho Betis eh eh!

The European Assault continues – Group I

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 07.58.07

Europa League Group I

So it was made official yesterday around midday when Betis were drawn in Group I of the Europa League alongside Lyon, the usual Champions Leaguers, Vitoria Guimaraes (of Portugal) and HNK Rijeka (of Croatia).

I personally was hoping for an English side, i.e. Wigan, for my own purely selfish reasons, but as I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, they made have to wait for the knockout stages.

I don’t know much about Guimaraes other than that they are based near Braga and that they finished 9th last season. I know even less about Rijeka, only that they finished 3rd in their league last season behind Dinamo Zagreb and Lokomotiva. Lyon, clearly, are more well known. They are managed by Remi Garde and didn’t make it to the Champions League this year after finishing 3rd in their home competition behind PSG (Champions) and Marseille. Without doubt, Lyon will provide Betis with the stiffest opposition considering their European pedigree, getting to the semi-finals of the CL in the 2009-10 season.

Of course Betis wouldn’t have been in that draw yesterday had they not won against Baumit Jablonec – something which they did convincingly. 6-0 the game ended up at el Benito Villamarín with goals coming from Rubén Castro, an own goal, Matilla, Molina, Braian and Xavi Torres. It meant that on aggregate Betis had won 8-1.

Béticos need only wait around 3 weeks till their next stint of European action when on the 19th September (Matchday 1) they take of European giants Lyon. The group stages conclude on the 12th December with the top 2 teams going through, making it 24 teams in the knockout stages. On a side note, and by my counting, there have already been 126 teams eliminated from this years competition!

Now #EuroBetis can be endorsed and supported as much as possible as it is now real!

Viva el Betis!