A Return to La Liga Promised Land?

Betis will be a La Liga team by the end of the day, if one of three scenarios occur:

  • If Girona lose to Llagostera
  • If Sporting Gijón don’t win against Tenerife
  • If Betis win against Alcorcón

Both Girona and Sporting play earlier this afternoon, so by the time Betis grace el Villamarín later on, and results have gone their way, they could already be in their natural place. If not then it is Betis’ own hands where they are likely to be playing in front of 50,000 La Liga hungry Béticos.

Players celebrate in El Sardinero after Thursday's win

Players celebrate in El Sardinero after Thursday’s win

On Thursday evening, Betis helped their ascension cause by placing a foot in La Primera with a 4-2 away win at Racing Santander. Two more goals from the unstoppable Rubén Castro, another from Jorge Molina and one from Bruno ensured that Pepe Mel’s men would return from northern Spain with all three vital points.

Two more goals from The Legend

Betisweb banner: Two more goals from The Legend

Racing took the lead early on, but Betis were quickly back on track with a solid Bruno header from a corner. Betis were 2-1 up by half time after a sublime goal from Rubén Castro. He cleverly combined with Kadir to then curl the ball into the top corner, ricocheting in off the post. The third came from Castro again as he lobbed the keeper from the edge of the area. The victory was assured by Jorge Molina smashed the goal in the top corner from outside the area with a suspected toe-bunge, whatever way he connected it was certainly a golazo. David Concha grabbed one back for Racing, but the game ended 4-2.

Pepe Mel made a few rotational changes on Thursday to keep his starting line-up fresh. He is likely to change it up again this Sunday with a likely line-up of:

Adán; Cejudo, Bruno, Jordi, Varela; Xavi Torres, N’Diaye, Ceballos, Portillo; Rubén Castro and Molina. 

The team from Madrid, Alcorcón, haven’t got much to play for. They have secured their place in La Segunda for next season and could still technically make the playoffs, but it is unlikely. Betis will be playing in front of a raucous crowd who will be in fiesta mode.

Today could be the day Betis have been wanting for more than a year. If so, they will put the whole debacle of mis-management and the bear pit of La Segunda behind them.

Kick off is 7pm GMT (8pm in Spain). If you’re that way Twitter inclined, be sure to use the hashtag #yosoyverdiblanco – an initiative started by the club to get everyone in party mood. Also, look out for the huge surprise banner that Betisweb have prepared, which will be in similar vein to the Rubén Castro Jugador de Leyenda banner just above.

Viva el Betis!

The call for beticismo – a united Betis

Last night’s defeat at the hands of Atlético Madrid was painful. Very painful.

I am not going to give you a match report today as there are a fair few out there and they don’t make for good reading if you are a supporter of green and white. But if you must read one in English, try here (ForeverBetis.com) , or here (insidespanishfootball.com).

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Not too happy Béticos

Unsurprisingly, there were many, many disappointed, angry Béticos. Many actually managed to air their views in person. As the players and staff boarded an AVE train home to Seville, they were also accompanied by many fans making the same journey – cue a very uncomfortable and long train ride home. No member of Betis was left out in receiving some well intended tips from the fans – Pepe Mel, the players and Rafael Gordillo were all on the end of a few verbal volleys. If fans couldn’t air their views in person then they certainly aired them on social media – the images show a couple of views from Saturday night.

Let’s begin with the excuses. Yes, Betis were without a few key and experienced names (Verdú, Xavi Torres, Paulao); but would it have made that much difference? In pre-season Verdú looked like a world-beater. I watched him on a few occasions and I thought he would slip into the Beñat-shaped hole seamlessly. However it has to be remembered that Betis were playing the likes of Huddersfield, Bolton and Wolves (no respect to any of those sides, but they aren’t quite at the level of Atlético – and neither are Betis for that matter). Verdú though hasn’t quite carried the good form he showed through to when it matters; in the league every week.

Verdú is without doubt la liga quality and it would be harsh to pick him out as the only player who hasn’t performed so far. Life is always going to be tough without the natural goalscoring Rubén Castro in your side. Without Verdú, Rubén Castro or Molina playing on Saturday, the average age of the midfield and striker was just below 22. This show that Betis have good a few good, young players on their books, but more importantly, are these players actually good enough to make it in la liga? Obviously, only time will tell us that one but it is a very precarious position for a squad to be in when the stakes are so high i.e. staying in La Primera. We have seen it in the recent past that La Liga isn’t frightened of dumping big names into the second division – I give you Zaragoza, Depor, Villarreal, Real Betis. Yes, Betis know all too well that Spain’s top division will chew you up and spit you out if you aren’t good enough for just one season.

Currently and clearly, it isn’t looking rosy for Betis. They have started the season like a slug making its way through hot tar. The defence is looking incredibly penetrable, the midfield are neither here nor there and the forwards (plus the rest of the team) are managing less than a goal a game, and that’s even including three they scored in one game against Valencia! Two wins out of 10 mean that only Osasuna and Almería are below them. It is the first time that Betis have been in a relegation zone under Pepe Mel.

Ok, so that is what has happened so far in a nutshell. Last night’s 5-0 hammering was the pinnacle. I aired my views last night on Twitter as did thousands of other supporters. The Spanish/Seville based media have not been pleasant towards Betis. 

Beticismo.net called it ‘ridículo‘ in their report. On Twitter today Beticismo also said ‘to lose in the Calderón is possible, very possible. But this attitude cannot be taken’. They are absolutely spot on. It hasn’t just been in this last game. Béticos are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of commitment and passion being shown by a lot of players.

This has even led to some Béticos dismissing the clubs iconic phrase, Viva el Betis manquepierda – Long live Betis even when we lose. Citing that is doesn’t apply if the players don’t care. Again, I agree. There is nothing more disheartening as a fan of football than to see your beloved team go down without a fight and without a care.

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BUT there is hope! We have Pepe Mel and almost all Béticos are staunchly behind him and if they are not then they should be! Pepe Mel will never back down and shy away from a scrap.

The first thing he did on Monday morning was to change his plans and open the gates so anyone who wanted to could watch the players train when the first session starts on Tuesday. As on the train last night, the players had to answer directly to the fans. A similar precedent was set the last time Betis were highly embarrassed, after losing 5-1 to eternal rivals Sevilla. It’s true that some fans displayed their views to the players and staff and that at times training was heated and intense. That is what the player need, a good kick up the backside to get them going.

Pepe Mel also immediately ordered a press conference to face the media straight up and so he could explain the situation at the club – ask me anything you like he said. He laid some home-truths, touched a few sensitive spots but remained upbeat and completely focussed on the task. We need this positive outlook to get through this rough patch. Below are just a few excerpts of what he said:

“If I jumped ship I would be a coward, a very bad professional and a very bad Bético.”

“The unity of everybody is key.”

“If we don’t win on Thursday (against Levante) it will be a small drama for us and that in match day 11 is dangerous.”

“We need players that are strong mentally, people that want the ball and enjoy the game. I don’t have a problem with that, it will be better or worse and we will have horrific days like Getafe, which has outraged me more.”

“We have time to paint the future the colour of what we want.”

“They was a more worse situation in 2010 and we got through it together and a worse situation when we lost five games in la segunda and we had to ascend because if we didn’t the club would have died.”

Let’s be honest with ourselves, Pepe Mel isn’t ratified miracle worker but he is a bloody good manager and trainer. Béticos (including me) need to accept that we can’t just rely on Rubén Castro. Mel needs to get Chuli firing. He is a very good young player, you don’t make your debut for a club like Betis and score a hat-trick if there isn’t something about you. He is in the same mould as Rubén Castro but he needs to believe in himself. Molina has shown he is a good striker but he hasn’t got the same killer instinct to be deadly, needing around five good chances before he finds the net. Without service Chuli is going to do nothing. Juanfran needs to start playing on the wing again and Cedrick needs to find the form that has Sergio Ramos and co. backing off with horror. Most of all Betis need Verdú, Salva Sevilla or Nosa to provide the driving force in midfield to get the whole team going. There is no real leader at Betis at the moment and this is a major problem. Somebody needs to pick up the mantle. It could be Matilla, it could be Nosa, it could be Paulao. The biggest problem Pepe Mel has got at the minute is getting his players to believe in themselves and unite as one on the pitch. Football is a team game but they aren’t performing as one.

As Pepe said himself, Betis have been in worse situations and have got through them together. The club, the fans, the players, the staff as one. Betis will turn this situation around, starting with Levante on Thursday.

Viva er Beti manquepierda! 

Peña Cultural Bética Chipiona.

ImageThe first post is much more daunting than I thought it would be. You set up a blog to share your words and none end up coming! Then logic kicks in, why not start at the beginning?

And here it is, the beginning, where my journey on the beticismo road kicked off. It was July 2010 and it was a bright, glorious day in Chipiona – a small, coastal town in the south-west corner of Spain. Home no less, to the tallest lighthouse in Spain, the third tallest in Europe and to several exquisite varieties of Moscatel (or what was soon to be known as ‘sunshine in glass’). My girlfriend and I were also only staying here because there was no room to stay in the town of our intentions, Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

However, it was in this town of Chipiona where I first came across this great piece of artwork that captured my attention – Peña Cultural Bética. It made me think and it made me want to learn more. Now at this point I must admit, as I embarked on my journey to live in Spain I fully expected that I would come to support the nearest La Liga team, which was Sevilla FC. A certain Real Betis side, languishing in La Segunda, did not cross my mind.

We soon made it to Sanlúcar where I was introduced and further inducted to the sleeping giant of Real Betis. The green and white bandera of Andalucía was everywhere as were lots of Béticos! There was even more green and white to be seen from the local team, Atlético Sanluqueño. It seemed natural that I should support Real Betis. And so I did. And here I am now, still.

My plan now is to bring news and write musings about Real Betis and other such verdiblanco-ness. I hope you enjoy reading the work in progress that is this Bético Blog.

Viva Andalucía y musho Betis!