Ceballos to sign for Real Madrid after rejecting new Betis contract

After weeks of rumours and uncertainty, it looks like the Dani Ceballos saga is finally going to be over and completed in the next few hours after the player flew up to Madrid on Sunday evening.

With him always likely to leave, many Betis fans were hopeful the young superstar to-be would sign a new contract and gather more la liga experience before flying the nest, not to mention increase his buy-out clause in the meantime. However, it looks like Dani is seizing the opportunity whilst it’s there and is set to sign on the dotted line for the Primera and Champions League winners.

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Worst Defeat In La Liga Era

In front of 41,655 people on Saturday night, Real Betis were thoroughly embarrassed as they suffered their worst defeat in La Liga. Ever. In 849 home games Betis have never been beaten more comprehensively.

It was supposed to be a difficult night for under-pressure Madrid; no win since September 18th and an injury crisis to deal with, whereas Betis were pretty much full-strength. It was a case of Zinedine Zidane exacting revenge after Betis halted his winning streak last season when he first took over as manager of Real Madrid.

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Merino & Betis holt a rampant Zizou & Madrid

The line-ups were announced and I immediately thought the worst. For the past month and more I had been optimistic before every match that Betis would be able to turn their fortunes around, put in a display and maybe even score a goal (stranger things have happened).

But this match against a free-scoring Real Madrid, I thought ‘naaaa, no chance’. Even more so when I read that Molinero and Pezzella would be in defence against Ronaldo, James Rodríguez and Benzema. I expected 5-0. Worse maybe.

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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.

Preview: Real Madrid vs Betis

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Can Molina score again at the Bernabeu?

After last week’s respectable 1-1 draw against Villarreal, Betis will face a far tougher test this weekend against Rafa Benítez’s Real Madrid.

If Betis didn’t know they had returned to La Liga standards, they certainly will be Saturday night. However, Betis shouldn’t be daunted. They have been here before not too long ago and manager Pepe Mel, who returns to his homeland, has managed Betis to over 100 games in the top flight.

Betis made several mistakes last week against the yellow submarine, but managed to get away with it. There shall be no such letting off against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and his chums.

By Madrid’s very high standards, they have made a slow start, albeit they have only played one game! However, that one game was against newly promoted Sporting Gijón, who Betis comfortably finished above last season. Madrid stuttered to a 0-0 draw away from home.

This weekend though could see the return of their famous BBC attack – Bale, Benzema and Cristiano. The Welshman and Frenchman have returned to training this week and will be sure to play a part this weekend. That coupled with the fact they will be in front of their home crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu means Betis will be facing a different beast to that faced by Gijón the week before.

Betis are likely to line up the same as last week. Perhaps the only change that might occur is Jorge Molina coming out for someone more defensive, for example a fit-again Didier Digard to make his competitive debut.

Dani Ceballos has trained ‘marvellously’ this week according to Pepe Mel, but his situation is no more clear. He’ll be on the bench again to come on as an impact player, although we could certainly do with having him on from the start.

Last time Betis journeyed to the Bernabeu two years ago, they narrowly lost 2-1. Only a late goal from Isco managed to get Madrid all 3 points. From that team in 2013, there is only one player that will make the squad this weekend – Jorge Molina.

From a bético perspective, let’s hope Saturday night’s game will be just as close, with perhaps Rubén Castro sneaking a winner in the 87th minute this time.

Kick off is 21:30 GMT.

Mucho Betis!

Betis 1 – 1 Villarreal: Point on the board, good start, room for improvement

The match began on Sunday and by the time Rubén Castro scored the equaliser as the match came to a close, it was Monday! That’s Spain’s crazy match timings for you – you can thank the LFP.

Betis’ first taste of La Liga action ended in a 1-1 draw against a well-oiled Villarreal team. It wasn’t the perfect start, but it will do. More importantly, Betis did not look out of place at all against the team who finished 6th last season. In fact, Betis dominated the game in terms of possession, yet they never truly threatened to score until Dani Ceballos came on and created a bit of impetus.

The players came out to a vociferous noise, with the crowd clearly excited to be back where they belong. Pepe Mel’s men started off with lots of energy and enthusiasm, however, the energy they emitted seemed to be more of a nervous kind and at times you could see their eagerness to create an impression resulting in simple mistakes.

It would have done us well to have a nice, calm influencing figure in midfield to dictate play and simmer things down a little. One of two players could have done this: one of them was sitting on the bench, Señor Ceballos, and the other was injured, Rafa Van der Vaart. It will be a good sight to see the Dutchman pulling the strings in centre-mid.

Overall, it was a good performance from Betis. They could have won it near the end when they were piling the pressure on, but I think a draw was a fair result. Villarreal looked dangerous on the break, swinging up the field like a set of launched bananas.

Roberto Soldado, a familiar name to all, opened the scoring in the 31st minute. Betis cleared a corner, to then see the ball hoofed in the area. As the green and white defence moved out, they forget about what might happen if an onside Villarreal player controlled it. Soldado plucked the ball down and had around 14 minutes worth of space to slot the ball past Adán.

The main threat Betis posed seemed to be down the right hand side, with right back Cristiano Piccini bombing up and down. He wasn’t perfect and can be highly infuriating at times with his final ball, but he was definitely trying and with a fair degree of success, causing plenty of trouble for Villarreal left back, Jaume Costa. Piccini was given the Most Valuable Player award come the end of the match.

It was one of Piccini’s speculative shots that led to the goal. He’d had a few where you think, ‘why are you shooting from there?!?’, but on this occasion, it worked. As he lined up a 35 yard volley in the 85th minute, I thought ‘here we go’. However, it was an absolute bullet which was parried by goalkeeper Areola, who made a double save before seasoned goal-poacher, Rubén Castro, forced it in. Queue madness in the stands. Betis pushed for a winner, but it eventually played out in a draw.

Making his debut as centre-back was Germán Pezzella, who fair to say, did not look too solid. I think we need to be a little patient and let him bed in as he seemed shaky and a little nervous. On a few occasions he miscued a pass, got caught out of position or mis-controlled the ball. Against a more clinical opposition, it may have cost us.

Betis did look more dangerous with Dani Ceballos on the field, but he continues to divide opinion with his unwillingness to sign a contract. He obviously has a very bright future ahead of him, but I don’t think he is being advised very well. He is 19 and it would do him well to get a La Liga season under his belt before he looks at a more attractive more. The crowd showed restraint but they won’t for long and will not have little patience for someone who, as they will see it, doesn’t want to play for los verdiblancos.

Up next for Betis is the not so easy feat of facing Real Madrid away, who were held to a draw by fellow La Liga new boys, Sporting Gijón, who finished below Betis last season. They could give Betis a bit of faith, but equally, it will make Madrid want to exact revenge.

It looks like Digard will be available for selection, but Ceballos may be staying in Seville for the journey.

Joaquín News

In his latest Instragram post he has said, “My decision is made, I only want to return to home”. The prodigal son is on his way back!

Van der Vaart deal to Betis to be finalised soon

Van der Vaart

Van der Vaart

The rumour has been floating around for a little while, but it looks like it is now finally materialising: Rafael Van der Vaart will officially be a Betis player within days.

Club chairman, Ollero, announced today that talks were at a ‘advanced stage’.

The Dutchman will sign from German side Hamburg on a three-year deal, which is a deal well negotiated for the 32 year old. The former Real Madrid and Tottenham midfielder has made 22 starts for Hamburg this season, scoring four times.

If the signing is confirmed, it could be the start of something great for Betis. It is a statement signing of intent for los verdiblancos, telling La Liga that Betis are here to stay. Although the signing will stretch Betis’ budget, it is a brilliant signing as it is likely to attract a higher calibre of players to the club.

Van der Vaart wants to move back to Andalucía to be close to his family when his contract runs out at Hamburg at the end of June. His parents still live in beautiful town of Chiclana de la Frontera in the province of Cadíz, around an hours drive from Seville.

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!

The Champions of 1935

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The team of 1935

28th April 1935 – Real Betis Balompié, La Primera División Campeones.

80 years ago to the day, Los Verdiblancos picked up their one and only primera championship with a final day win away at Racing Santander, piping Real Madrid to the post.

Today, the club is paying tribute to those champions with an event in the Pirotecnia park, situated close by to the old Patronato Obrero ground. The ceremony, at el monumento de los campeones, will feature club president Juan Carlos Ollero, a technical body headed by Pepe Mel and a few players, including Adán, Xavi Torres and Jorge Molina. Any fan who wants to attend, can do so.

While everyone is in a celebratory mood, the club and magazine, Trece Barras, thought they might as well celebrate all the important dates and events in the history of Real Betis.

To view the special presentation, click on the link – Trece Barras: Historia.

Back in 1935 the league did look slightly different with only 12 teams taking part; most of them from northern Spain. Real Betis and Sevilla were the only counterparts representing the south. A quick look at the final table shows that all the usual suspects were present: Real Madrid, Barca, Valencia, Atlético, Athletic Club de Bilbao and Espanyol. By winning the league, Betis were the first ever Andalucian club to do so.

The team back then was an interesting one. Los verdiblancos were managed by Irishman and former Manchester United player, Patrick O’Connell. The squad contained many Basque players who had relocated from the north of Spain to give the team a bit of grit.

Will we ever see such dizzy heights again at this wonderful club? It is extremely hard to imagine for even the most optimistic amongst us, what with the superclubs at the top with all their wealth and power.

Without an apocalyptic explosion, it’s looking like Betis are going to be La Liga contestants once again next season. With the goal machine Rubén Castro in attack anything can happen. He will probably give Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi a run for their money for the pichichi, in doing so propel Betis to the summit.

One can dream…

Thursday beckons as Real Madrid given a scare

The highly impressive Cedrick in action against Madrid.

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!