The highly impressive Cedrick in action against Madrid.
What a game Sunday’s encounter was. Madrid ended up sneaking the win with new signing Isco providing the winner just 5 minutes before the end. Even though the new 2013/14 la liga season was just over 24 hours old, it was an important performance from Betis as it gave a lot of disgruntled la liga fans hope, enjoyment and even a bit of excitement.
The preseason just passed has not been particularly positive for any other team apart from Real Madrid and Barcelona. Almost every other la liga side has been forced to sell not just their mediocre players, but their best ones. The league was set to become even more of a two horse race (which it still probably will be). The pessimistic souls that were this way inclined, were given the nod when the usually fairly sturdy defence of Levante were absolutely spanked 7-0 at the Nou Camp – it was 6-0 at half time.
Then came along the ever-blooming Betis. During parts of the game they were running Madrid slightly ragged. The much-quoted €1.20 (€1 + 20 cents VAT) signing from Numancia, Cedrick, was giving the bleached locks of Sergio Ramos, the runaround. Betis took the lead through Jorge Molina on the 14th minute, teed up by Cedrick. Madrid levelled 10 minutes later through Benzema. Betis could have, and should have, been leading at half time with lots of chances going spare.
The second half was a bit of a different story with Madrid creating lots of chances but the Betis defence did not buckle. Chica, Paulao, Perquis and Nacho performed greatly as a unit and Matilla looks like he has certainly plugged the hole in the middle of the defence, playing in the pivot role. Unfortunately the defence could quite hold on long enough and Isco made Betis play for some sloppy marking in the centre of the box to nod a cross into the top corner. 2-1 to Madrid it ended but they knew they had certainly been in a game and boss Carlo Ancelotti had certainly been put through the mill during his first proper game in charge.
It would have been a fantastic result to return to Seville with 1 point and unbelievable to return with all 3, but in the end it was none. To be honest it doesn’t matter too much as no one expected any points before the game. What Betis need to do now is to put that valient performance, the encourage and positive aspects into fruition in the next game, which is arguably much more important.
On Thursday Betis take on FK Jablonec in the first leg of the qualifier for the Europa League. Should Betis win the tie over two legs, they will be entered into the group stages of the Europa League. That would be a remarkable feat for a team that were suffering terrible just a few years ago with crippling management and not even playing in the top flight.
The top flight they are certainly in now though. Betis showed that there are not just two sides in la liga. The squad from last year is much changed but that spirit that Pepe Mel has instilled into his side is clearly evident. Let’s hope that the performance on Sunday was a sign of things to come.
Viva el Betis, manquepierda!