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.

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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

Strike Cancelled: La Liga and Liga Adelante back on

Spain’s High Court has lifted the strike proposed to take place this week until the end of the season, deeming it unlawful.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced the strike a week ago and it very much looked like it would be going ahead. It was backed up by the players’ union (AFE) and high profile football figures.

The RFEF and AFE were not happy with the new law on television rights and money distribution, believing the lower-ranked teams still are not benefiting enough from the deal. This has even been backed up by Real Madrid and Barcelona, although they are still getting a very good deal as Sam Wallace explains in The Independent. 

The saga is still very much on going and hasn’t been settled between the bickering parties, with the National Professional Football League (LFP), who run the top two leagues, providing opposition to the RFEF and AFE.

Betis will play Lugo at home on Sunday evening. Whereas, every single La Liga game will kick off at 6pm GMT on Sunday.

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.

Varela renews his contract at Betis and is confident that Ceballos will too

After signing a new contract this week keeping him at Betis until June 2017, Francisco Varela has announced that midfield superstar in the making, Dani Ceballos, also wants to stay el Benito Villamarín, as speculation continues about where his future lies.

Ceballos in action against Barca B

Ceballos in action against Barca B

If you haven’t heard of Dani Ceballos yet, you will do in the near future.

Valera, who has come up through the Betis youth set-up with Ceballos, came in for criticism when he first broke into the team and some fans doubted his potential. However, he says that he has now demonstrated this season that he can play for Betis and do a good job at left back. Upon the subject of Ceballos, Valera is certain:

“Dani Ceballos wants to stay at Betis.” – Varela

varela web

Varela has signed a two-year extension

Varela has played in the same youth team as Ceballos since 2011, which implies that he has a good understanding surrounding the subject, although he states, ‘I don’t know the conditions of his renewal.’

The 20-year-old also heaped praise on the philosophy of new sporting director, Eduardo Macià. Varela says, ‘as a canterano, I am proud and happy that Macià has come with this idea to promote youth team players.’ He then insisted after learning his trade with Betis B, he is here to stay as a member of the first team.

Let’s hope Ceballos has the same intentions. The young Sevillano is having a brilliant time under Pepe Mel, influencing games and already becoming a key player at the tender age of 18. He has already featured for the Spanish u-21s, making his debut earlier this year in an impressive performance against Belarus. Now, Ceballos has been cited to play for the u-19s during the youth equivalent of the Euros, set to be played out in Greece between the 6th – 19th July. However, Spain has not yet qualified for the tournament.

The problem for Betis is that being a part of this squad would require the player attending a period of training in Madrid to prepare to qualify for these finals and then attend the finals themselves. In typically Spanish fashion, this training is scheduled for next week! As the season comes to a conclusion and with Betis still fighting it out for promotion to La Liga, the last thing they want is a disruption to their training regime with one of their best players missing. Should Ceballos be selected for the squad, he will then be required to take part in the Ronda Élite classification between Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Georgia. This mini-tournament is taking place during the penultimate jornada of the season, which could be vitally important to Betis’ promotion credentials. On this weekend, Betis face the tricky task of taking on Tenerife away from home and they will certainly want one of their most influential players available.

If Betis are not already promoted by this point, they can take the problem up with RFEF to ask for permission to keep Ceballos for such an important game.

Match Report: Betis 2 – 2 Llagostera

rc

Not even two goals from Mr Castro could help Betis extend their unbeaten run

A freak ‘golazo‘ from Tito and a terrible referring decision helped Llagostera claim their first points against Real Betis this season. The game at el Benito Villmarin finished 2-2, yet could have been much more due to some dodgy defending. However, both goalkeepers, Adán and René, made a few brilliant saves apiece.

The Catalonians gave their fellow Catalonians, Girona, a helping hand this jornada by halting Betis’ five game winning streak, allowing them to make up ground at the top of the table. Both Girona and Sporting managed to cut the gap this weekend to four and six points respectively. Llagostera, on the other hand, are not on a bad run themselves. They are now 13 games unbeaten and fighting for a playoff place.

What would Betis do without Rubén Castro? The Canary Island man grabbed another double this weekend to take his tally for the season to 25. He is now just two goals short of his season record of 27. The 33-year-old is certainly ageing with style. After doing 0-1 down, Castro helped Betis take the lead during the second half and many could be forgiven for thinking that was it. Alas, no. Llagostera were dogged and insistent and drew level in the 76th minute with a wind-aided wonder strike from Tito, which rocketed into the top corner of Adán’s net.

Up next for Betis, is a tricky trip away to Mallorca for the early Sunday morning kickoff. Mallorca are not the team they once were in La Liga and they are still not out of the relegation dog fight, sitting just six points above the drop zone with six games still to play.

Preview: Betis v Llagostera – Sat 2nd May.

Up next in Betis’ path are Liga Adelante new boys, Llagostera. Real-Betis-vs-Llagostera-1

Who?!? I hear you cry! That’s what I asked myself at the start of the season.

Llagostera are a team based in Girona in Catalunya. They are the smallest town ever to have a team compete in the top two tiers of Spanish football. With a stadium capacity of 1,500, they have been playing their home games at Estadi Palamós, about 20 miles away. Despite being the new team on the block, they have had a successful season so far and are currently occupying 8th place.

Betis have already played Llagostera twice this season, once in the league and once in the Copa del Rey, winning by 2-0 on both occasions. We will be hoping for a similar result this Saturday afternoon at El Estadio Benito Villamarín, which has a slightly bigger capacity of 56,500, although I doubt there will be quite that many there this weekend.

As far as team news goes, it is all a little quiet. This morning (Friday) the team trained behind closed goals with new sporting director, Eduardo Macià, in attendance at his new green and white home. The squad list is not being released until Saturday morning. Pepe Mel is taking no chances as his team close in on automatic promotion and is remaining completely focussed. The only players that definitely won’t be in the squad are the injured Javi Matilla and Álex Martínez.

Los verdiblancos are in fine form and are motoring along superbly as the season end approaches. Last weekend they beat Alavés away from home, 1-2. If you missed the highlights, here they are.

Sevilla y Betis unite

In other news, Sevilla and Betis have put their rivalry apart and united for a much greater cause. This week they teamed up with UNICEF to raise as much money as possible for the horrifically destructive earthquake in Nepal.

For Nepal: Sevilla and Betis unite

For Nepal: Sevilla and Betis unite

Juan Carlos Ollero: The Steady Ship of Betis

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The new board: Ollero is the small guy in the centre in the dark suit.

It was just five months ago when Juan Carlos Ollero was elected president of the great Spanish instution that is Real Betis. Before that event occured, Betis were enduring, at best, a slight state of disturbance: at its worst, it was all-out tumultuous turmoil.

As we know, at the start of the 2014/15 season because had just dropped down from the pinnacle of Spanish football, La Primera. The club was in disarray and this was reflected in the league form running up to Ollero been sworn in at the end of November: Won 6, Drawn 3, Lost 5. In short, not the form that would see Betis ascend again to the top level.

In came Ollero, the man from the Spanish enclave of Melilla, surrounded by Morocco in Northern Africa. The turnaround of the club since his election has been like the mountain range in the south island of New Zealand: Remarkable(s). Since Ollero the form guide reads: Won 15, Drawn 5, Lost 1. Of course, Ollero has nothing to do with the training of the players or team selection. What he does do is make decisions.

The very first decision he made was to say hasta luego to the first team manager, Julio Velázquez. The result was an immediate change in fortunes. The last four games before Velázquez was sacked read: LWDL. The four games immediately after his sacking, under the interim management of Juan Merino read: WWWW.

Ollero had a decision to make now. Does he stick with untested Merino or sign a more experienced first team coach? As he put it, it was, ‘una decisión muy meditada y en cierto modo arriesgada’ – a very thoughtful and somewhat risky decision. He signed fan-favourite Pepe Mel who just a year ago had been sacked after a bad run of form in La Liga and even more recently had been sacked at English club, West Bromwich Albion, after not been given much of a chance. You win some, you lose some. For Betis, it was a winner.

Mel_ollero

Pepe Mel and Juan Carlos Ollero with a drop of fine sanluqueñan manzanilla. Let’s hope they will be celebrating come the end of the season.

Mel was appointed first team manager once again, but not before Juan Merino had been rightful commended for the stupendous job he did in the intermediate; a job Béticos won’t forget. Merino returned to his role as coach of Real Betis B team, plying their trade in Segunda B.

In more recent times, the board at Betis have made another possibly key decision in the signing of new sporting director, Eduardo Maciá. In just two days time, his tenure at Betis will begin. Ollero is hoping that Maciá can, ‘alleviate the historical deficit at Betis.’ Maciá comes from a good pedigree having held similar talent scouting positions at Valencia, Liverpool (with Rafa Benitez), Olympiacos and Fiorentina. He is going to working closely with Pepe Mel to plan the future with two current hypotheses in mind: one that Betis will be promoted, the other that they won’t. Luckily, it looks like it is going to be the first hypothesis.

Macia_ollero

Nuevos de Betis: Maciá y Ollero

So, the steady ship Ollero is going strong. He has already made some tough, but progressive, decisions in the hope that Betis can move through the gears once again.

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!