Next up in the sight-lines of the Betis steamroller are Espanyol, a team who haven’t set many pulses racing this season. Two players who have been particularly influential in the handing out of said steamrollering are Tonny Sanabria and Sergio Leon.
Summer signing Sergio Leon has slipped back in at Betis absolutely seamlessly, having learned his trade at the club as a youngster before being offloaded to Reus in 2011. For the last six years Leon has journeyed around several clubs without ever finding a permanent role, but his first few months back at the Benito Villamarin couldn’t have been much better and the 28 year old really does seem at home.
Aside from the early Betis history, Leon’s story has some very similar hallmarks to another journeyman striker who came to find a home a Betis in his last twenties and someone I have mentioned a few times on BlogBetis. Yes, you guessed it, one Ruben Castro. After 10 years of going from club to club, Castro came to Betis, settled down and found the back of the net 135 times to become Betis’ all-time top goalscorer. Ever.
Sergio Leon grabbed both of the goals in midweek Copa del Rey win against Cadiz where los verdiblancos ran out 2-1 winners., taking his tally to 6 for the campaign. His first was a superb, instinctive finish from the edge of the area, rocketing into the top right corner, very Ruben Castro-esque. Leon’s second was a powerful finish from 8 yards out sending the keeper the wrong way.
Leon’s partner in crime this season has been Tonny Sanabria. The 21 year old Paraguayan has already scored as many goals this year as he did the last one and he’s really starting to fulfill his potential. He always had this in him, but I think playing alongside Leon, and even Joaquin, has undoubtedly had a positive influence.
Betis the neutrals’ favourite this season
In more general terms, Betis have been great value this season for the neutrals; going forward with so much purpose that defending has been somewhat of an after-thought, at best.
Quique Setien’s Betis side have scored 15 goals in the last 5 games, but also conceded 11. However, Espanyol will prove difficult to break down at the RCDE Stadium, formally known as Estadi Cornella-El Prat, where Quique Sanchez Flores’ men have conceded 3 in 4 games. Espanyol aren’t exactly free-scoring though, with 5 in their last 5 games and 4 of those coming against Deportivo.
On to the team news and we should have nearly a full complement to choose from. Cristian Tello is out and so is central defender Zou Feddal who’s picked up a knee knock. Joel Campbell is in the squad but also a doubt after missing training this week. In better news, Javi Garcia has recovered from his injury and is back in the squad, giving Setien a few more options in the centre of midfield.
Espanyol have a few late drop outs in the way of Didac, Sergio Sanchez and former Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero. In Leo Baptistao, there’s a fairly familiar face for beticos, with the midfielder making a handful of appearances back in 2014.
Betis squad: Adán, Dani Giménez, Barragán, Rafa Navarro, Mandi, Jordi Amat, Tosca, Javi García, Guardado, Fabián, Camarasa, Narváez, Nahuel, Joaquín, Boudebouz, Campbell, Sanabria and Sergio León.
Espanyol squad: Pau López, Aarón, Víctor Sánchez, Naldo, Gerard Moreno, Sergio García, Jurado, Leo Baptistao, Diego López, Javi López, Hernán Pérez, Javi Fuego, Piatti, Diop, Hermoso, Darder and Álex Domíguez.
Kick off is 8pm GMT and is live on Sky Sports for you UK-based people.
Viva el Betis!