Busy Betis preparing for La Liga

Eduardo Macià’s office has been a busy place since he took over in May. Since the season end it seems like Betis have been linked to a new player every day.

Sporting Director Macià and Pepe Mel are working hard to ensure that Betis have a squad that can first of all survive their first season back in La Liga, and secondly move forward in future years to compete at a higher level.

vdv

VdV has talked about the ‘marvellous’ project on-going at Betis

The signing of Rafael Van der Vaart is an indication of this, although it still hasn’t been made official. However it is now being widely noted that Van der Vaart will arrive in Seville on Sunday night, finalise the details and hopefully sign on the dotted line tomorrow for Betis! He will no doubt give the club a boost, provide lots of experience for the younger players and increase bargaining powers with other agents and potential players too.

jony rod

Jony on the radar

A player Betis would very much like to sign is Jony Rodríguez of Sporting Gijón. The 23 year old fits the winger bill that Betis need to fill. Exciting going forward but also capable of helping out in defence. It will be a tricky signing because Sporting have also just been promoted from Segunda to La Liga, so they will not be wanting to let go of one of their star players. It will take a few million to prise him away from the north of Spain.

Los Verdiblancos have been linked with Fiorentina (where Macià used to be Sporting Director) midfielder, David Pizarro, who is currently playing in the Copa America in Chile. However, a move for the brother of Claudio, has been ruled out by Betis secretary Alexis Trujillo. The centre of midfield is a fairly full at the minute with N’Diaye, Ceballos, Xavi Torres, Lorenzo Reyes and as of tomorrow, Van der Vaart.

nono

Nono is on his way out of Betis

The three players who went on loan in the winter – Nono, Sergio Rodríguez and Chuli – will find it difficult to stake a place in the squad next season. Macià is set to have a meeting with each player in the near future to tell them if there future lies at Betis or not. Chuli is the only one I think who has half a chance of being kept on after scoring 11 goals in 21 games whilst on loan at Leganés.

As for Nono, who never really impressed me, he went on loan to second division German club Sandhausen and failed to make a single appearance. Unfortunately the future for him doesn’t look too bright.

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Betis are Champions but lose to Sporting who sneak past Girona into second

It was a hectic, dramatic and highly contentious finish to the Segunda season this Sunday. Although Betis’ promotion had been confirmed, they were in the thick of the controversy as they usually are, as they faced a Sporting side gunning for promotion.

The first thing to say is that Betis lost 3-0 at home to Sporting. A terrible and undignified result. It was contentious because the final automatic promotion place was a direct fight between Sporting and Girona, with the latter having a two point lead over the former. Sporting’s win at Betis but them on 84 points. Girona were beating Lugo 1-0…until the 92nd minute. That draw meant Girona finished on 84 points too, but had the worse head-to-head record. Consequently, Sporting achieved promotion.

It’s fair to say Girona are not best pleased. It fact they are fairly outraged. Girona president, Patxi Otamendi, has commented this evening on his ‘suspicion’ about the result in el Benito Villamarín; basically hinting that Betis have thrown the game so Sporting could join them in La Liga. Otamendi has said he wants the league to investigate. Even Girona player, Sandaza, has weighed in saying the result at Betis wasn’t ‘normal’.

It wasn’t ‘normal’ because Betis had nothing to play for and Sporting had a huge amount to play for, hence this ‘anomalous’ result.

Obviously, they would have said nothing of the sort if Girona hadn’t conceded a goal in the 92nd minute! Girona are now in the playoffs and still have a chance to go up. I think it is a case of putting the blame onto someone else.

As for Betis’ performance, what can I say? It is really annoying for fans (and other teams apparently) when teams switch off at the end of the season when they have achieved their objectives; but it happens. Have a look at Chelsea and Bayern Munich this season.

Since Pepe Mel’s arrival in December, Betis lost one game until two weeks ago when it was confirmed that they would be playing in La Liga next season. They have now lost two in a row and failed to score in either to finish the season in a rather flat manner. It would have been nice to carry the excellent form and momentum of the second half of the season into La Liga, but you can’t have everything.

The starting eleven for Betis was slightly different from the norm of the season, although Castro and Molina were up-front. The players who have come in haven’t really done themselves justice, but you can’t do too much about that. Everyone else already had their minds on their summer holidays.

Mel and Macià know they have to strengthen in the summer, hence the big rumours surrounding Rafael Van der Vaart whose contract ends with Hamburg in the summer. The club are likely to be busy in the transfer market.

As for the season as a whole – it has been job done. Betis are CHAMPIONS and are officially a LA LIGA team!!! You can’t blame the players for slackening off a little at the end when they knew they’d got what everyone at the club wanted.

Segunda Team of the Month – May

El once ideal – the ideal eleven – for the month of May was announced the other day for the Liga Adelante.

And guess which two free-scoring Béticos were included?

Segunda Team of May

Segunda Team of May

Barring the slip up in the last game against Tenerife, it has been an almost perfect month. Four wins out of five and 16 goals scored.

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.

Five of the Best: Betis 5 – 1 Lugo

Over 30,000 spectators were in attendance at the Benito Villamarín on Sunday evening to watch Betis demolish Lugo by five goals to one.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 19.23.57Betis are now six points clear of both Sporting Gijón and Girona, who could only draw against Zaragoza. Both teams are tied on 72 points, with four games left to play. This means that Betis need just six points from the last remaining four games to confirm beyond doubt their return to La Liga.

Betis got off to a good start and were 1-0 up after 13 minutes thanks to a certain Rubén Castro with his 27th goal of the season. Castro was slid through by Alfred N’Diaye, who had perhaps his best game of the season for Betis, just beyond the half way line. He then closed into the box at an angle and smashed the ball into the roof of the net. An emphatic finish. Lugo threatened temporarily to gate crash the party moved and drew level through Peña on 22 minutes. Ferreiro then had a few long range efforts, but didn’t force Adán into any saves, highlighting the difference in class between the two teams. Jorge Molina put Betis in front just before half time with a tap in from a free-kick after a knock down from N’Diaye.

Los verdiblancos started the second half like a house on fire. They really could have had four more goals before the 60th minute, but settled for just the two instead. After 13 consecutive Castro or Molina goals, Betis showed they could share them out with Molinero timing his run well to slot into the bottom corner from a Molina pass. Molina then really should have scored after again being set up by N’Diaye, he missed from seven yards with just the ‘keeper to beat. It wasn’t long before Castro once again showed his lethal finishing, after being set up by Molina.

A series of substitutions really slowed the game down and Betis moved into 2nd gear. The rout was completed by substitute Vincenzo Rennella, who scored a lovely header with just a few minutes left to play after a super cross from fellow substitute Cejudo.

Betis now play again on Thursday away to Racing, who are floundering in the relegation zone, but will be desperate for a win. Both Sporting and Girona have away ties on Wednesday, which means if Girona lose and Betis win then promotion is confirmed as they have a better head-to-head record and would be nine points ahead with nine to play for. Betis play Sporting on the last game of the season, so their head-to-head isn’t yet complete.

All in all a brilliant weekend for Pepe Mel and co and a La Liga return is looking exceptionally close now!

Viva el Betis!

sporting 3-1 racing

girona 1- 1 zara

Preview: Betis vs Lugo (Sunday)

La Segunda: Top 4

La Segunda: Top 4

Betis can take a step closer to promotion on Sunday when they take on Lugo at el estadio Benito Villamarín in what could be the start of a season-defining week.

Pepe Mel’s men are in his spirits after a vital 2-1 away win at Mallorca last week to maintain their lead of four points at the top of La Segunda. Betis’ home form this season has been very good, winning two thirds of their 18 encounters and losing three.

Team News

As we know, Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina have been in dazzling form. Castro has scored 26 goals this season with Molina weighing in with 16 in La Segunda. However, Castro picked up a bit of a virus after the game in Mallorca, but has trained this week and will be in the squad for Sunday.

Lolo Reyes is a doubt, but Pepe Mel has postponed his squad announcement until Sunday morning to see if he can include Reyes or not. The only definite absence is Dani Pacheco who has a strain of the ankle and will be out for the next two games. Both players didn’t train on Saturday.

Dani Ceballos at the back training this week with Spain u19s

Dani Ceballos at the back training this week with Spain u19s

Dani Ceballos has been training with week in Madrid with the Spanish u19s. However, he returned to Betis at the end of the week and has been training with the first team and he will play this weekend.

The Opponents – Lugo

Lugo on the other hand are stuck in mediocrity. They are currently 14th: eight points off the drop zone and ten points off a playoff place. Their away form is one of the worst in the league having picked up just 12 points in 18 games on the road. They are not on a great run of form at the minute and are without a win in five games. Their last win came at the the very beginning of April with a 4-0 home drubbing of Mallorca.

I wouldn’t say Lugo have nothing to play for as they could theoretically still get dragged into the relegation fight, but it is highly unlikely. In Israel Puerto they have ‘a friend in the enemy’ to Betis as Marca.com put it. Puerto grew up in a family full of béticos, but learnt his football trade as a youth team player at Sevilla. This will be the first time he has faced Betis as a professional. The 21-year-old defender has played nine times for Lugo this season, scoring once.

Busy Schedule

The match against Lugo is the start of what will be a busy and incredibly important week for Betis with three games in seven games: Lugo, Racing Santander and Alcorcón.

By the end of this week we are likely to know whether Betis will be gracing La Liga with their presence once more next season.

Look out for the grand entrance the fans are planning to give the players as they enter the field! #PapelillosAlVillamarín is the hashtag the fans will be using for Twitter.

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.

Promotion nears for Betis after victory Mallorca thanks to Castro and Molina

I feel that Sunday morning in Palma, Mallorca, was a game changer for Betis in their quest for La Liga promotion.

The men of the moment

The men of the moment

Quite frankly, Betis’ record in recent years at the Iberostar, home of RCD Mallorca, has been nothing short of disastrous. Los verdiblancos’ last win at Mallorca came in the 2001/02 season when both teams were playing in La Liga. Betis have been back 10 times since then and haven’t won a single game (four draws and six defeats). As for Real Betis manager, Pepe Mel, he had previously lost four out of four visits to the Balearic Island.

The pressure was laid on even thicker after away wins for both Girona and Sporting Gijón on Saturday, which brought them within one point and three points, respectively, of Real Betis at the summit of La Segunda.

So, if ever there was an opportunity to break their voodoo, Sunday morning was it.

Step up: Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina.

I think I’ve probably mentioned these two before on here, but they did the business again on Sunday to bring a return to La Liga just that bit closer. A goal apiece from the front men helped Betis to a 2-1 win. Both goals were absolute peaches.

Ruben Castro scored a superb individual goal, à la Lionel Messi v Jerome Boateng, to leave the defender on his backside with a face full of grass (see the video below). The second goal was a brilliant team goal with a very smart one-two between that faithful duo of Castro-Molina, leaving Molina with a simple slide in to put Betis 2-0 up.

In scoring the first goal, Rubén Castro equaled Francisco González ‘Paquirri’ as the highest goalscorer in the history of this famous club from Seville. Castro now has 109 goals in 199 games – in la primera: 44 in 93 games, la segunda: 53 in 80, Copa del Rey: 10 in 20 and Europa League: 2 in 6. Not too shabby.

Table from betisweb.com

Ruben Castro’s goalscoring records: Table from betisweb.com

The robin to his batman, the Kel to his Kenan, the Cole to his Yorke, the Dr Watson to his Sherlock Holmes (I could go on…) is Jorge Molina. The man from the Spanish east coast has 73 goals in the green and white of Betis. Although not prolific, Molina has been in fine form this season scoring 16 goals.

The Spanish newspaper, Estadio Deportivo, commented:

Con Rubén, todo es más fácil.”

That is true, everything is easier with Castro, however, Betis didn’t make light work of the second half after conceding a goal to make it 2-1. The struggled, fought and nearly gave it away, but hung on in the end.

Betis boss, Pepe Mel, must have been bubbling with joy inside. He said,

“This is the game I have felt proudest of my team.”

Mel has targeted 80 points as the golden number for promotion. Betis are currently five points off that on 75. With four games left to get to the magic mark, Betis are well on track. However, we have seen things fall apart on a monstrous scales before with Betis, so they should be taking nothing for granted until it is mathematically proven, which I’m sure are Pepe Mel’s thoughts too.

Juan Carlos Ollero: The Steady Ship of Betis

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The new board: Ollero is the small guy in the centre in the dark suit.

It was just five months ago when Juan Carlos Ollero was elected president of the great Spanish instution that is Real Betis. Before that event occured, Betis were enduring, at best, a slight state of disturbance: at its worst, it was all-out tumultuous turmoil.

As we know, at the start of the 2014/15 season because had just dropped down from the pinnacle of Spanish football, La Primera. The club was in disarray and this was reflected in the league form running up to Ollero been sworn in at the end of November: Won 6, Drawn 3, Lost 5. In short, not the form that would see Betis ascend again to the top level.

In came Ollero, the man from the Spanish enclave of Melilla, surrounded by Morocco in Northern Africa. The turnaround of the club since his election has been like the mountain range in the south island of New Zealand: Remarkable(s). Since Ollero the form guide reads: Won 15, Drawn 5, Lost 1. Of course, Ollero has nothing to do with the training of the players or team selection. What he does do is make decisions.

The very first decision he made was to say hasta luego to the first team manager, Julio Velázquez. The result was an immediate change in fortunes. The last four games before Velázquez was sacked read: LWDL. The four games immediately after his sacking, under the interim management of Juan Merino read: WWWW.

Ollero had a decision to make now. Does he stick with untested Merino or sign a more experienced first team coach? As he put it, it was, ‘una decisión muy meditada y en cierto modo arriesgada’ – a very thoughtful and somewhat risky decision. He signed fan-favourite Pepe Mel who just a year ago had been sacked after a bad run of form in La Liga and even more recently had been sacked at English club, West Bromwich Albion, after not been given much of a chance. You win some, you lose some. For Betis, it was a winner.

Mel_ollero

Pepe Mel and Juan Carlos Ollero with a drop of fine sanluqueñan manzanilla. Let’s hope they will be celebrating come the end of the season.

Mel was appointed first team manager once again, but not before Juan Merino had been rightful commended for the stupendous job he did in the intermediate; a job Béticos won’t forget. Merino returned to his role as coach of Real Betis B team, plying their trade in Segunda B.

In more recent times, the board at Betis have made another possibly key decision in the signing of new sporting director, Eduardo Maciá. In just two days time, his tenure at Betis will begin. Ollero is hoping that Maciá can, ‘alleviate the historical deficit at Betis.’ Maciá comes from a good pedigree having held similar talent scouting positions at Valencia, Liverpool (with Rafa Benitez), Olympiacos and Fiorentina. He is going to working closely with Pepe Mel to plan the future with two current hypotheses in mind: one that Betis will be promoted, the other that they won’t. Luckily, it looks like it is going to be the first hypothesis.

Macia_ollero

Nuevos de Betis: Maciá y Ollero

So, the steady ship Ollero is going strong. He has already made some tough, but progressive, decisions in the hope that Betis can move through the gears once again.

The Champions of 1935

Campeones_1935

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…