News update – signings, money and Euro 2016

It doesn’t seem like five minutes since the season finished, but Real Betis are already a club on the move. With Gus Poyet at the helm and new Sporting Director Miguel Torrecilla hitting the ground running, things are moving quickly again at the club.

Signings and potentials

First signing of the season was Riza Durmisi. He’s a very promising 22 year old Danish full back who likes to get forward. He’s already played 10 times for the national team including the other day against Bosnia where it’s reported he had a very good game, helping to set up two goals. Last season the left-footer was making a good name for himself and attracting attention all over Europe, including from Everton. In 2015 he won Brondy Player of the Year which inclined Betis to activate his €2m release clause and sign a 5 year deal.

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The ‘real’ Betis we want to see

Este sí es mi Betis” – Reyes Aguilar on Twitter. This, yes, is my Betis.

A 1-1 draw at home to Celta de Vigo may not sound like much, but it signalled for a lot of people the return of the Betis we love to watch. Not the scoreline, but the manner of the play and performance from the players on the pitch.

Especially that of midfield general: Petros.

He had a sublime game, one which was not missed by the Twitterati, in fact his name was trending in Spain his performance was that good. Petros signed from Corinthians in the summer and has so far had 6.5/10 kind of season; on Saturday he must have been a solid 9.

His statistics show how important he is becoming for Pepe Mel: often topping the stats for balls recovered. pass percentage complete and kilometres covered. He’s not just a defensive-minded DM though, he looks forward and gets the team moving.

Respected journalist, Mateo González, said: “Provoca la roja, asiste en el gol, recupera infinidad de balones, refleja el espíritu del equipo y acierta en el pase. Completísimo.” He provoked the red, assisted the goal, recuperated an infinity of balls, reflected the spirit of the team and got his passing right. Totally complete.

Celta are no push over. According to the league table, they are the 4th best team in Spain at the minute, only surpassed by the usual three front-runners. Large swathes of the game were under Betis control, 60% of possession tells this story. Yet it was Celta who took the lead against the run of play in the first half thanks to a neat, instinctive finish from Bongonda. This Celta goal came seconds after Alfred N’Diaye was put clean through by Rubén Castro, but could not apply the finish. A lesson there in taking your chances.

With Petros playing a sterling role in the centre keeping the likes of the deadly Nolito, Orellana and Iago Aspas largely trouble free, it should have been left to Dani Ceballos, Joaquín, Rubén Castro and Cejudo to create the chances. Los verdiblancos did have chances, 27 in fact (including those blocked) compared to Celta’s five. One of Betis’ closer attempts was a wonderful freekick from Joaquín that crashed against the post. This came after Petros had robbed the ball yet again high up the pitch and was pulled back, resulting in Jonny getting his marching orders.

The goal came in the 82nd minute from an unlikely pairing: Petros to Molina. Yes, Jorge Molina got his first goal of the season after being slid through by the Brazilian, in one of his 92% of completed passes! It was a moment of justice for the big forward who has endured a very tough season, featuring little and being criticised a lot. This shows he can still play a key part this season.

The Return of Vadillo

vadillo real betisVadillo technically returned to Pepe Mel’s plans mid-week when he featured against Sporting in the Copa del Rey. He scored a wonderful goal then and it looks like he could play a key part in this season’s campaign.

He came off the bench in the second half last night and put in another good performance. He feels very much like a new signing! Vadillo was very nearly sold this summer to Rayo Vallecano, in what would have been an absolute steel for the madrileños. I’ve been a huge fan of Vadillo and have written so here many times. He’s got a raw talent that is not seen that often and I think given an injury-free run, he can be crucial to Betis. He has been so unlucky with injuries in his short career: two cruciate knee catastrophes by the time he was 20 years old!

Looking forward to seeing him feature a lot more in the coming weeks/months, as is perhaps his biggest fan Linus Lövgren!

The only thing that was missing last night from Betis was a win, but if they continue to play like that, there will be plenty of them to celebrate.

News round-up over the International break

First and foremost, apologies for the silent treatment – holidays and what not have somewhat taken over.

We’re coming to the end of an International break with the final games being played tonight (Monday). Spain are already safely through to the finals next summer as Group C winners. They take on Ukraine with an experimental line-up. Of most interest to me is the inclusion of Celta de Vigo striker, Nolito, who happens to be from my adopted Spanish home – Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

So, what’s been happening in the world of Betis? 

The break came at a bad time for Betis who were enjoying a good spell. They recorded back to back wins for the first time this season with wins over Sporting Gijón and Rayo! They were the first back to back victories since the end of May in fact when they beat Racing Santander and Alcorcón to seal promotion and that includes pre-season!

Betis made the most of the break and scheduled a friendly with Mérida, a team from Extremadura. The game played out 0-0 to which Betis won the succeeding penalty shoot out. It was a chance for Pepe Mel to look at the fringe players. Mel opted for Dani G in goal, a back four of Molinero, Pezzella, Jordi and Tarek, defensive midfield of Digard and Xavi Torres, and the rest made up of Kadir, Fabián, Vadillo and Rennella.

vadillo real betis

Forgotten Man: Alvaro Vadillo

Two names stand out for me: that of Didier Digard getting his first full 90 minutes for Betis and the return of the forgotten man, Alvaro Vadillo.

After injury Digard desperately needed 90 minutes to up his fitness as he is a player that could come in useful this season. Vadillo very nearly joined Rayo in the summer in a loan deal, but it fell through. Since then he has got his head gone, had to train on his own and worked hard. He got his first minutes here since May and Mel was surprised with his fitness saying he had gone “quite well”.

I’m glad Vadillo stayed and believe he can play a big part in this team too. He plays an almost identical position to Joaquín and I think he can learn a lot from this magnificent pro.

Change in Style

It’s come to light that Betis have had a style change. Instead of possession football they have gone all Sam Allardyce Bolton Wanderers on us. From a wannabe Barcelona they have transformed into a solid block, pressing hard, closing down spaces and playing much more direct. It’s a directness with precision which has become effective, as evidenced in the last game against Rayo.

This should put it into perspective: only Levante have made fewer passes in the league this year!

Pepe Mel summed it up nicely after the Rayo game, he said, “Rayo were waiting for the other Betis.” After a good start to the season, we hope this solid, yet dangerous block will continue to develop and improve.

Ceballos situation still hasn’t been resolved

Let’s be clear, Real Madrid want to sign him. He would like to move to Madrid (most young Spanish players would) but he is also happy at Betis. He has an offer on the table from Betis to make him the third highest earning player here after Rubén Castro and Joaquín; otherwise known as a bloody good offer.

There could be a deal done where Madrid sign the player, but he remains at Betis for another year or two. Madrid aren’t in a rush for him as he won’t walk into the starting line-up, they just want to snap up the talent so no one else gets him.

Players to go in January

Sporting Director, Eduardo Macià, has said that more players will leave in January than come in, if any do. Betis currently have a huge first team squad of 25, so it does need to be chopped down.

Next game for Betis is Espanyol at home on Saturday – look out for the preview.

Real Betis 1 – 2 Celta Vigo – A night of pure frustration

The headline here sums it up for me.

If you watched the first half no one could disagree with you if you said the game should be at least 5-0 to Betis. And that is not five half chances, that is five golden, guilt-edged chances. Betis started the game like a house on fire. Three corners in the first five minutes and the game continued in that fashion for the best part of 40 minutes. It was Betis vs Yoel – the Celta goalkeepers, and single-handedly the goalkeeper came out on top. Betis played fantastically well in the first half, but they could not put the ball in the back of the net and unfortunately that is what football is all about. It was the same story against Real Madrid last week. The better team but with no end product. There are only so many chances a team can have and at this level you have to take them.

cedrick missing

New man Cedrick missed a few great chances against Celta

Without Rubén Castro up front (he was on the bench), it was down to Jorge Molina again with help from Verdú, Cedrick and Juan Carlos. Molina and Cedrick were guilty of missing the majority of the best chances in the first half.

The second half was disastrous. Apart from the goal at the end by no other than Castro, I cannot remember any serious attacks or attempts at goal from Betis – it was diametrically opposite to the first half. Real Betis: The Jekyll and Hyde of La Liga.

Celta were set up much better in the second half and punished Betis, they were even guilty of missing chances themselves. Eventually, it was Charles in minute 67 and then Nolito in the 74th who finished Pepe Mel’s men off. The defence of Betis crumbled and fell apart like a rich tea that had been dipped in a cup of tea for far too long.

Why the drastic change in performance? A couple of reasons: i) Could have been through tiredness after the Thursday night trip to Czech Republic; ii) After the first half the players could tell it was going to be ‘one of those nights’; iii) Celta upped their game and Betis couldn’t alter their tactics effectively enough.

So where does that leave Betis? On zero points after 2 games. After two first halves of great attitude and ability, the club have no points. The sooner Rubén returns to full form the better, but we should not be relying on just one player to score all our goals and take the chances, there needs to be more.

This was honestly one of the most frustrating games I have watched Betis play; and there has been a few. Pepe Mel summed it up by saying, “It was a bad night for us.”

It is only the second game so let’s hope the players get back on the training ground and work on their finishing and their tactics with Pepe Mel and co. Manquepierda.