7 years later – EuroBetis

As Real Betis Balompié official website put it – El EuroBetis entra en escena siete años después – EuroBetis enter the stage 7 years later.

Tonight’s game against Czech Republic opposition, FK Jablonec, will cap a remarkable turnaround for the Real Betis. To say a lot has happened since Betis took on the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Anderlecht in the Champions League group stages, would be an understatement.

Relegation. Theft. Fraud. Administration. Law suits. Promotion.

And now here we are on the cusp of full blown European competition again – 7 years and 5 months, or 2,716 days, since Betis bowed out to Steaua Bucharest in quarter finals of the UEFA cup in 2006.

Betis are now in a much better place and are being led by two incredible Spaniards who are Béticos through and through. Miguel Guillén and Rafael Gordillo travelled yesterday from Seville to Prague to lead the green and white army into battle. In tow were Pepe Mel and 20 players picked to do the business.


Nacho training in the Chance Arena

The likely line-ups for tonight’s game are:

Real Betis: Sara; Steinhöfer, Paulao, Perquis, Nacho; Xavi Torres, Nosa, Verdú; Vadillo, Cedrick & Jorge Molina.

FK Jablonec: Spit; Kubista, Kysela, Benes, Novak; Kopic, Loucka, Pitak, Cizek; Vanek & Hubnik.

The game kicks off in the aptly named Chance Arena at 5pm GMT (6pm CET).

Betis obviously need to win the tie over two legs to be put into the draw for the Europa League group stages. If they can do that, it will be an unbelievable moment for the club once again.

Vamos EuroBetis!

Picture from http://www.alfinaldelapalmera.com

Bolton Wanderers 0 – 2 Real Betis – Verdú conducts Betis to a comfortable win

Verdú was undoubtedly the star of the show for Betis as they ran out 2-0 winners at the Reebok in front of just over 4,000 people.

Fittingly, the game started with a minute silence for all the victims of the terrible train crash in Santiago de Compostela, which was fantastically observed by all the fans inside the stadium.

Sergio vs Bolton

The impressive Sergío in action

Betis took to the pitch wearing their third choice sky blue kit (as pictured). I must admit that I am not a big fan of this kit, probably because I am a born and bred MUFC fan as well and so have a disliking for any football kit that is such a colour. Pepe Mel started with – Andersen in goal; Chica, Paulao, Perquis, Nacho across the back; Carlos García, Nosa as holding midfielders; Juanfran, Verdú, Sergio Rodríguez as attacking midfielders; and Jorge Molina up top. This team also carried on well into the second half with the first substitute coming in the 75th minute.

This extended period gave the players a chance to impress and two who certainly did were Joan Verdú and Sergio (who is pictured). Both players gelled immediately, they were reading each others game, knowing what the other one was going to do next, sharing 1-2s – there really was some great chemistry and in my view it was a revelation. It was the first time that I had seen Sergio play and I was mightily impressed. His first touch was great, his feet were quick and he was strong on the ball. His talent hasn’t gone previously unnoticed and Barcelona have been very interested in the 20 year old and have actually agreed a first option deal on the player who recently signed a contract to keep him at Betis until 2017.

The first goal came on the half an hour mark. Juanfran, who was much quieter today and took a few rough tackles off a few Bolton players, ricocheted the ball into the box and Jorge Molina was there to wrap his foot around it and guide it into the corner. Not much else of note happened apart from neat passing play and Betis being dominant and superior in every area of play.

The second half entailed of much of the same. Bolton did have a little spell and showed a bit more urgency and intent but the Betis defence stood up well. It looked much more secure than it did against Huddersfield. Perquis and Paulao looked very solid together and Anderson in goal did not put a glove wrong, making a few good saves. I was impressed with Perquis who did his job comfortably and confidently, getting stuck in when necessary, even if he did probably make more passes back to the keeper than forward when he had possession!

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Verdú being substituted

Verdú absolutely ran the show. I commented on twitter at the time that he was like a magnet to the ball and his foot had glue on it. It really was a masterclass. He rounded his display off by showing another attribute to his game, set piece ability. In the 70th minute he showed pinpoint accuracy and technique by curling a freekick passed Adam Bogdan from around 25 yards out. His second goal in successive games. Even the Bolton fans were applauding.

With the job done Pepe Mel made a few changes, bringing Cedrick, Matilla and Steinhofer on for the last 15 minutes and then later on we saw a glimpse of Figueras, Salva Sevilla and Nono. I didn’t expect Cedrick to get any minutes tonight considering he only just got in the country on the day after his documentation problem.

The undoubted highlights of the night for me were: i) the way Verdú controlled the game from start to when he was substituted, ii) the attacking midfield pairing of Verdú and Sergio – real chemistry. I also want to give a shout out to Carlos García (pictured). He is a holding/defensive midfield and he played his role like a really pro. He looked natural, confident and classy. He really did remind of Sergio Busquets.

Next up for los verdiblancos is the Molineux tomorrow evening (4pm kick off) where they take on Wolves. Expect to see starting those that didn’t today or who came on late, plus those who didn’t get on such as Caro and Chuli, the man who bagged a hat-trick on Wednesday night.

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Betis bus parked outside the Reebok

Next up for los verdiblancos is the Molineux tomorrow evening (4pm kick off) where they take on Wolves. Expect to see starting those that didn’t today or who came on late, plus those who didn’t get on such as Caro and Chuli, the man who bagged a hat-trick on Wednesday night.