In front of 41,655 people on Saturday night, Real Betis were thoroughly embarrassed as they suffered their worst defeat in La Liga. Ever. In 849 home games Betis have never been beaten more comprehensively.
It was supposed to be a difficult night for under-pressure Madrid; no win since September 18th and an injury crisis to deal with, whereas Betis were pretty much full-strength. It was a case of Zinedine Zidane exacting revenge after Betis halted his winning streak last season when he first took over as manager of Real Madrid.
The weekend is here we all look forward, when international duty is finally over! Betis return to la liga action this Sunday in what could be the start of our push up the table. It’s not been the smoothest starts with a defeat and a loss but Manager Gus Poyet will have had over two weeks to work with most of his players and get them more accustomed to his tactics and work on things that haven’t gone right.
At 4pm CET (3pm UK) they take on a very complicated Valencia side who have had the worst start of any primera team. Los Che side themselves rock-bottom of the table after being beaten by Las Palmas (2-4) and Eibar (1-0). Not impressive at all against two sides they should definitely be beating. The former third place perennial finishers have not had a good time of late and it’s Betis’ turn to pile the pressure on.
Gus Poyet knows this too and says the fans expect more and that the team will be delivering. However, Betis haven’t won at La Mestalla in 30 years! Would be some win on Sunday is Poyet and los verdiblancos can deliver.
As far as pre-seasons go, this will go down as smooth by Betis’ standards. The club have now played seven matches and remain unbeaten with their only non-win coming via a 1-1 draw with Everton. Since my last post they have beaten Fulham, Werder Bremen and Sporting Portugal and have won the Dresden Cup.
Dresden Cup winners
There is definitely a buzz around the place and an excitement for La Liga to start, even if our first fixture is the hardest of the lot – away to Barcelona. Things just don’t run this smoothly for Betis going off past experience, but perhaps now is the time for a change in fortune?
One thing that certainly is changing, is the squad personnel. A few weeks ago I brought you a run down of the six new faces that will be appearing in green and white next season (if you’ve forgotten about or would like to take another look at Rizi Durmisi, Jonas Martin, Charly Musonda, Nahuel, Felipe Gutiérrez or Aissa Mandi then venture back here.)
I was asked to record a podcast a couple of weeks back for an episode on The Spanish Football Show. It wasn’t anything I had ever done before, but thought I’d give it a go…and below is the result.
The recording is about 30 mins along and I discuss all things Real Betis – from Lopera, the financial crisis, the current presidency, the performance this season back in La Liga, Guy Poyet and future aspirations for the club. Once I got into it, it was an enjoyable experience!
If your ears are ready, you can listen here or click below.
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.
Former Chelsea midfielder and Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has been announced as the next manager of Real Betis. He’s signed on a two year contract after recently leaving AEK Athens.
He will be presented in front of the world’s media on Wednesday. He takes over from caretaker manager Juan Merino who was promoted from the B-team.
I will be reflecting on the signing of Poyet once the dust settles, but on the surface of it, I quite like the news.
Being deemed as ‘mathematically safe’ is about as glamorous as it has been or is going to get this season. The truth is, it hasn’t been one to savour but we are safe and we will be playing La Liga football next year. Despite a bit of money being spent last summer and a couple of big name signings, the possibility of relegation was real (as it usually always is with Betis) so it is mission accomplished from that perspective.
However, as fans we have been left wanting more. This weekend Betis ground out a gritty 1-1 draw against Eibar, which isn’t a bad result considering Eibar’s good form at the Ipurua. For the majority of the season that has been it: ok, alright, not bad, half decent. When it hasn’t been mediocre it has been worse than that. Uninspiring and quite frankly dull.
I called this game a six-pointer in my preview last week, Rubén Castro said that Betis “have to win” and with three defeats in a row, it was beginning to feel a bit twitchy around the Benito Villamarín.
With over 37,000 fans showing true beticismo creating a superb atmosphere before the game, los verdiblancos ground out a 1-0 win courtesy of the two most important players of the season, those I labelled the ‘two bookends’ in my last post – Rubén Castro and Antonio Adán.
I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, but those of a betting persuasion should have picked up on my hint:
“We know the importance of the game this Saturday, but we are calm, we have to win.”
Rubén Castro knows the importance this weekend’s game against Levante, I think we all do. He actually said “we have to win sí o sí.” In that lovely Spanish phrases which literally means ‘yes or yes’, Betis have no option but to get all three points otherwise they will find themselves firmly in a relegation dog fight again.
A few weeks ago after a six game unbeaten run we all thought another year in La Liga was all but confirmed, now we’ve suffered three defeats on the bounce after last Saturday’s 5-1 hammering away to Atlético Madrid. A draw would have probably been the most we could have asked for in the Vicente Calderon considering that Atlético have the best defence in Europe and Betis have a highly ineffective attack, but this was a battering with the team falling apart after going 1-0 down.
Let’s start off with the news that always raises a few eyebrows and often helps to create a renewed vigour around a club: new signings. During the January transfer window Sporting Director Macìa has brought in three new arrivals.
Damiao in training (photo: Real Betis)
The latest to come in was Brazilian forward Leandro Damiao, signed on a short-term contract until the end of the season. Damiao has a good record having played 17 times for Brazil and winning several titles in South America but has struggled for form the last few seasons having played for Internacional, Santos and Cruzeiro. Negotiations looked to have stalled to bring Damiao in, with the Betis board, being led by Ollero, in disagreement between their priorities. However, Haro and Catalan took over negotiations (explained later) and the deal was pulled off.