Hay Betis!

Yesterday’s match was one of the most enjoyable ones of the season for me. The fans were in jubilant mood, which was buoyed by the team providing some much needed entertainment, especially for the second half.

Getafe started the game with a super intense tempo, knowing full well that their la liga fate was theirs to determine: get a win and they were safe. They pressed high and hard and put Betis under the cosh coming close on a number of occasions. Scepovic really should have scored from a Sarabia cross but his diving header whistled past the post. But Betis resisted and eventually began to get a grip on the game and came close too when Jorge Molina was slipped through gloriously by Dani Ceballos. The man from Alcoy in his last game in green and white saw his name in lights but couldn’t apply the finish. To be fair Guaita stuck out a huge left hand and made a fine save. Betis should have had a penalty with one of the clearest hand balls you’re ever likely to see from Pereira, but protests were ignored by the ref.

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A day of farewells & sub-plots

Today’s final game brings with it a number of farewells (some certain, others more hypothetical). Entangled within these farewells are various sub-plots as the 2015/16 la liga season draws to a close.

Of the certain farewells, we say adios to Jorge Molina after six years at Betis. The big man up top has been a loyal servant for los verdiblancos playing 217 times and scoring 77 goals. He’s helped Betis to achieve two promotions to la liga, the first time being in his first season where he was the top goalscorer with 18 goals. The following season he made his primera division debut at the tender age of 29! His time at Betis has come to a natural end, having only scored one goal this season, but fans won’t forget the good times.

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Preview: Rayo Vallecano vs Betis (Sunday, 11am UK)

I’m in Deutschland this weekend so forgive me for the brevity and lateness of this post.

Up next, in just over an hour in fact, for Betis is a trip to Las Vallecas to face Rayo Vallecano. Like last weekend, Betis have the same early Sunday morning slot – 11am UK time, 12 noon Spanish – which I actually quite like. 

Los beticos will be hoping for the same result as last weekend’s 2-1 win over Sporting. It took a second half comeback courtesy of Rubén Castro and Joaquín to take the shares back for Betis. 

Rayo are sitting just one point behind Betis after they lost last week to that other team fron Seville – Sevilla FC. So today’s game is a good chance to show la liga what Betis are about and to potential arrange a bit of pecking order for the middle part of the table.

Team News:

Couple of changes from the Sporting game with Ceballos and Joaquín dropping to the bench. Ceballos is more of a technical decision whereas Joaquín picked up a knock in the Sporting game and may not be match fit having missed a few training sessions. The impressive Varela keeps the left back position due to Vargas’ injury.

In come Petros and a chance is given to Rennella ahead of Jorge Molina.

Full line up: Adán; Piccini, Bruno, Westermann, Varela; N’Diaye, Petros, Cejudo, Portillo; Rennella and Rubén Castro. 

Bench: Giménez, Molinero, Pezzella, Xavi Torres, Joaquín, Jorge Molina and Dani Ceballos.

Starting 11 for Rayo:

Toño, Nacho, Llorente, Zé, Rat, Trashorras, Baena, Jozabed, Bebé, Embarba and Javi Guerra.

All that’s left to say is MUSHO BETI!

Prodigal Son Returns – Joaquin back home + Van Wolfswinkel

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El Pisha: ‘He returns’

The Prodigal Son has returned.

It started off with a few rumours, moved on to enigmatic Instagram messages, comments from players and the manager, then eventually on the final day (in Spain) to confirm a signing, the deal was complete. Joaquín Sánchez Rodríguez returned to Real Betis.

At the tender age of 34, Joaquín is no spring chicken but he has aged well. Last season, he was an integral player for Fiorentina in his perennial right wing position and will hope to play the same key role for Betis. The club have shown faith in him, handing the man from El Puerto de Santa Maria, 

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The Wolf of Heliopolis

Completing the squad alongside Joaquín was Norwich City forward, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel. Sporting Director, Eduardo Macia, was done a pretty fantastic job this summer to ensure that Betis have a squad to keep them in la liga. The club have signed 10 players for a grand total of 7.5 million euros.

Joaquín is initially costing €500,000, but if Betis stay up they will have to pay Fiorentina around €1m more, which I’m sure they will not mind paying at all! Even though he is 34, he has been given a very generous three year contract.

Van Wolfswinkel has joined a loan for the season with the option to buy at the end for around €2.5m. He has signed from Norwich, although he was on-loan at St Etienne last season. It is fair to say that he hasn’t exactly set either league alight after coming highly recommended from Sporting Lisbon. He’ll be hoping to rediscover his scoring boots!

Alvaro Vadillo’s move to Rayo Vallecano fell through, which means he remains at Betis, which I think is good. When he’s on form, he is a brilliant player and I’ve no doubt he can play a vital role in the much needed winger position.

Here is the full squad:

Goalkeepers: Adán & Dani Giménez

Defenders: Molinero, Piccini, Bruno, Pezzella, Westermann, Tarek & Vargas (midfield as well)

Midfield: Digard, Xavi Torres, N’Diaye, Petros, Matilla, Cejudo, Joaquín, Van der Vaart, Ceballos, Portillo, Kadir & Vadillo

Forwards: Rubén Castro, Jorge Molina, Van der Wolfswinkel & Rennella

Oh, I forgot to mention – Betis lost 5-0 to Real Madrid at the weekend. Bit of a shambles of a game from a Betis perspective. Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez both scored two each with Benzema chipping in the other. Ruben Castro also missed a penalty. But enough of that. You win some, you lose some.

Next up is Real Sociedad a week on Saturday after the international break.

Viva Pepe Mel!

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Gracias por todo Pepe Mel

What a sad day the 2nd December 2013 was in the history of Real Betis Balompié. Without day the lowest point I have had as a Bético myself.

The Legend. The Iconic. Don Pepe Mel. Sacked.

Many general football fans had cited the sacking due to Betis’ position in the league, their form and the awful sacking culture that enshrines Spanish football these days. But almost all right-minded Béticos were fully behind Señor Mel.

Real Betis Balompié is not just any football club. It is a club based on faith, passion and obsession. They don’t sack managers willy-nilly after a poor run of form; but yesterday they made a short-sighted, passionless, unfaithful decision.

The facts are there to see. In Mel’s three and a half years at the club he has taken them from Segunda to Europa League. Whilst being in administration with almost no resources. A remarkable transition. Pepe Mel put so much into the club, but the chance for him to enjoy the fruits of his labour has been ripped from him. What a travesty.

So what has brought this on? Terrible form? Yes. No hope of changing this around? NO. There’s no doubt that this season Mel has been dealt a bad hand. Losing one of your most influential players during the off-season (Beñat) doesn’t help. Losing your best striker and best player (Rubén Castro) for the whole of the season so far definitely doesn’t help. The players that have been brought in during the summer (all 14 of them) have not been up to scratch. The guy in charge of bringing them in sacked? No. Vlada Stosic (Sporting Director) made the signings, gave them to Mel and expected him to deal with it, incorporate them all in to the squad smoothly and do just as well this season as in the previous. That’s not really going to happen Señor Stosic.

The club then take the decision to sack their main man on the weekend they conceded a last minute equaliser to Rayo Vallecano and their best player and main/only goalscorer returns from injury. Madness!

It has happened. We can’t change this now. All we can say is thank you for the sterling, almost unbelievable job, that Pepe Mel has done Real Betis Balompié. In an emotionally charged final press conference last night, Mel bid farewell to the club and to the fans. I’ve never seen a manager so emotional before. This man is a true Bético through and through. How could the club not be in good hands with a true fan at the helm? Not just a fan but a bloody good manager. A manager who approaches the game the right way – attacking and exciting. Make sure you watch this short video of Mel’s words from last night. The first man you see if Miguel Guillen, Betis President, who then hands it over to Pepe.

http://videosdelbetis.com/videos/pepe-mel-rueda-de-prensa-cese-destitucion/

There is another video, which I have posted below, from el Benito Villamarín last night which shows how the fans feel about the decision and how they feel towards Pepe Mel. Indignant doesn’t really come close. The man is a legend to so many people.

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Thank you Pepe Mel. Gracias.