Europa League Group I
So it was made official yesterday around midday when Betis were drawn in Group I of the Europa League alongside Lyon, the usual Champions Leaguers, Vitoria Guimaraes (of Portugal) and HNK Rijeka (of Croatia).
I personally was hoping for an English side, i.e. Wigan, for my own purely selfish reasons, but as I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, they made have to wait for the knockout stages.
I don’t know much about Guimaraes other than that they are based near Braga and that they finished 9th last season. I know even less about Rijeka, only that they finished 3rd in their league last season behind Dinamo Zagreb and Lokomotiva. Lyon, clearly, are more well known. They are managed by Remi Garde and didn’t make it to the Champions League this year after finishing 3rd in their home competition behind PSG (Champions) and Marseille. Without doubt, Lyon will provide Betis with the stiffest opposition considering their European pedigree, getting to the semi-finals of the CL in the 2009-10 season.
Of course Betis wouldn’t have been in that draw yesterday had they not won against Baumit Jablonec – something which they did convincingly. 6-0 the game ended up at el Benito Villamarín with goals coming from Rubén Castro, an own goal, Matilla, Molina, Braian and Xavi Torres. It meant that on aggregate Betis had won 8-1.
Béticos need only wait around 3 weeks till their next stint of European action when on the 19th September (Matchday 1) they take of European giants Lyon. The group stages conclude on the 12th December with the top 2 teams going through, making it 24 teams in the knockout stages. On a side note, and by my counting, there have already been 126 teams eliminated from this years competition!
Now #EuroBetis can be endorsed and supported as much as possible as it is now real!
Viva el Betis!
Béticos at Wolves (from RBetisBalompie twitter)
Real Betis showed good grit and determination to come from 2-1 behind to grab victory over Wolves at Molineux.
I wasn’t in attendance at this game and I couldn’t find a good stream on the internet so I followed the action via Betis Radio and various twitter feeds. For two good write ups (in Spanish) see Jose Maria García’s over at beticismo.net and the recount on alfinaldelapalmera’s website brought to you via Mateo González who is following Betis around on the English adventure.
The game came less than 24 hours after last night’s 2-0 victory over Bolton so Pepe Mel gave starts to Sara; Steinhöfer, Caro, Jordi, Álex Martínez; Matilla, Nono, Salva Sevilla; Chuli, Braian Rodríguez (making his Betis debut) and Cedrick (making his first start in England).
Wolves made an energetic start and were 1-0 up after just 4 minutes when Stearman scored from a corner. Salva but Betis back on level terms around 10 minutes later. The game became quite open and this is what makes Betis look frail at the back and is the reason why Mel is so intent on securing a defensive midfielder. According to beticismo.net, Braian barely touched the ball first half. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt after as he has only just arrived in the country as of a couple of hours ago!
The other debutee, Dídac Vila, came on at half time for Braian, however, Betis started the second half very poorly and were back behind when Griffiths scored for Wolves in the 50th minute. This must have shocked Betis a little as they went back on level terms just 6 minutes later thanks to Cedrick. With Salva, Nono and Matilla in the middle, it’s been said that the midfield was too flat and the gap between where the creation takes place and the forwards was too much.
Despite this Betis went in front for the first time in the game when Matilla capitalised on a defensive error and finished in the 71st minute. Pepe Mel brought on a few substitutes after this and the game ended 3-2 to Betis. Apparently, Guille Sara in goal for Betis had a fine game. So did Stephan Anderson yesterday against Bolton. It gives Mel a bit of a headache, if not a good one, before the start of La Liga as to who will start number 1.
Betis now have a bit of a break to recoup, refresh and hone their skills before the face Fulham on Monday 5th August at Craven Cottage.