Round-up: Signings and Gary Neville’s Valencia on Sunday

Let’s start off with the news that always raises a few eyebrows and often helps to create a renewed vigour around a club: new signings. During the January transfer window Sporting Director Macìa has brought in three new arrivals.

Damiao_entreno

Damiao in training (photo: Real Betis)

The latest to come in was Brazilian forward Leandro Damiao, signed on a short-term contract until the end of the season. Damiao has a good record having played 17 times for Brazil and winning several titles in South America but has struggled for form the last few seasons having played for Internacional, Santos and Cruzeiro. Negotiations looked to have stalled to bring Damiao in, with the Betis board, being led by Ollero, in disagreement between their priorities. However, Haro and Catalan took over negotiations (explained later) and the deal was pulled off.

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Betis back in La Liga!

Estamos en primera (Picture from Francisco Molinero's twitter account)

Estamos en primera (Picture from Francisco Molinero’s twitter account)

Real Betis are officially a La Liga team. 393 days after they were relegated; they are back!

A satisfying 3-0 victory over Alcorcón on Sunday confirmed just this. Yesterday morning, I wrote on BlogBetis that if one of three scenarios occur, then promotion will be certified. The first two didn’t happen as Girona beat Llagostera and Sporting did the same to Tenerife. So Betis’ destiny was in their own hands, which I think was the scenario everybody was hoping for. Even if they didn’t win they would have had two more attempts.

Almost 50,000 cram into el Benito Villamarín

Almost 50,000 cram into el Benito Villamarín

However, Pepe Mel and his merry men wanted to do this in style, in el Benito Villamarín and in front of 48,462 loyal almas – souls – of Betis.  That is an incredible number for a second division Spanish football match against a team a lot people haven’t even heard of. More than Manchester City. More than Liverpool. More than Chelsea.

Last week I said that this upcoming week could be season-defining for Betis, with three games inside a week. It has been season-defining and it has highlighted how Pepe Mel has re-invigorated, re-energised and re-motivated this side. Los verdiblancos have won all three games: scoring 12 goals in the process and conceding three. They are back to their entertaining, exciting selves, something which has been entirely lost for over a year.

It was fitting that once again Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina helped Betis to strut over the line with aplomb. Castro bagged two more goals on Sunday to take his total to 32 goals for the season! His first goal was yet another sublime finish, sprinting through before flicking the ball over the goalkeepers head with consummate ease. His second a penalty. Molina rounded things off with a tap in, his 19th of the campaign. Queue mass celebrations in the stadium.

'Mucha emoción'

‘Mucha emoción’

As the final whistle went, there were hugs galore on the bench and hysteria in the stands. As the players and staff did the rounds on the pitch, Pepe Mel looked evidently emotional. What a moment this must have been for him; the perfect return.

The huge banner below is what Betisweb kept under raps until kick off. I mentioned in my last post that they had something secretive up their sleeve and this was it. A homage to one of the best front line combinations in Spanish football – Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina.

Betisweb homage to RC24 and Molina (from Marca.com)

Betisweb homage to RC24 and Molina (from Marca.com)

I don’t think anyone, bar a few extremely optimistic (or extremely naïve) people, would have envisioned nor predicted this ending at the start of the season.

‘I am in my home, where I want to be’ – Pepe Mel

Towards the end of Novemeber, Betis had won 6, drawn 3 and lost 5. Under the uninspiring Julio Velázquez, the outlook was pretty dismal. A few changes in the boardroom and a couple of inspired decisions later and Pepe Mel had returned to his rightful home. In his 21 league games, Betis have lost just once! Under Pepe Mel, Molina has scored 17 of his 19 goals. Under Pepe Mel came a renewed sense of worth and appetite, which has ultimately led to this fantastic achievement. The revival did all start under the caretaker manager, Juan Merino, before Mel took charge. Merino’s role in all of this is integral.

‘It has been the most complicated season of my career’ – Jorge Molina

And that is saying something. Things are just never easy or straightforward at Betis, as proved with this season’s shenanigans. This is the 12th time Betis have been promoted to La Liga – the most in the history of Spanish football. So, to say there are ups and downs would be an understatement.

The season isn’t over yet and there are two more games to play. The next challenge for Pepe Mel and co. is to become champions of the league.

Celebrating in the changing room

Celebrating in the changing room

http://videosdelbetis.com/videos/video-la-grada-verdiblanca-celebra-el-ascenso-verdiblanco/

The video above is from the fantastic videosdelbetis.com who produce some great stuff.

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.

All goals from round 36 of La Liga

As Betis are likely to be making a highly anticipated return to La Liga, I thought I would share a video of all the goals from round 36. Also, with a strike announced for the remaining of the season (correct when published), it could be the last La Liga goals you see for a while!

“Buenas sensaciones” from the first two friendlies.

friendly los barrios

Betis vs Los Barrios (courtesy of beticismo.net)

Real Betis Balompié kicked off their pre-season campaign with two convincing wins against Tercera opposition. Lots of Seville-based media described the “buenas sensaciones” – good feelings – that are surrounding the club as the head into the new season.

First up on Friday night came Los Barrios, a club based in right down in the south of the Province of Cádiz. Los Barrios ply their trade in Grupo 10 of La Tercera División, thus a comfortable win was always expected. Betis ended up 7-0 winners with goals coming from Jorge Molina (a nice lob), Caro, Cedrick, Rubén Castro (2), Álex Martínez (great freekick) and Salva Sevilla.

The next night Betis took on Arcos CF, who play in the same league as Los Barrios. This time the winning score was 5-0. Betis were 3-0 up half time with goals from Molina, Chuli and Juan Carlos. Two more goals were added in the second half thanks to Rubén Castro and Nacho.

Videos of both of the games can be seen here on Betis TV, although the quality isn’t great.

As standard in these friendlies Pepe Mel fielded pretty much two completely different ’11s’ for each half. It’s nice to see that almost all the new signings have had a run out and got some minutes under their belt: Verdú, Cedrick, Juanfran, Chuli, Lolo Reyes and Anderson.

Players who have stood out in these early encounters include Juan Carlos, Cedrick, marauding right wingback Juanfran and young cantero Carlos García. Rubén Castro has bagged three goals so far but he is not yet firing on all cylinders, missing a hatful of chances against Los Barrios and a penalty against Arcos. Maybe a few too many off-season manzanillas.

It’s been a great, positive start to this exciting season ahead and there is a real buzz around the club. Betis have two more friendlies to play (Coria del Río and Sporting Braga) before they embark on their English campaign.

Beñat who?