Bolton Wanderers 0 – 2 Real Betis – Verdú conducts Betis to a comfortable win

Verdú was undoubtedly the star of the show for Betis as they ran out 2-0 winners at the Reebok in front of just over 4,000 people.

Fittingly, the game started with a minute silence for all the victims of the terrible train crash in Santiago de Compostela, which was fantastically observed by all the fans inside the stadium.

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The impressive Sergío in action

Betis took to the pitch wearing their third choice sky blue kit (as pictured). I must admit that I am not a big fan of this kit, probably because I am a born and bred MUFC fan as well and so have a disliking for any football kit that is such a colour. Pepe Mel started with – Andersen in goal; Chica, Paulao, Perquis, Nacho across the back; Carlos García, Nosa as holding midfielders; Juanfran, Verdú, Sergio Rodríguez as attacking midfielders; and Jorge Molina up top. This team also carried on well into the second half with the first substitute coming in the 75th minute.

This extended period gave the players a chance to impress and two who certainly did were Joan Verdú and Sergio (who is pictured). Both players gelled immediately, they were reading each others game, knowing what the other one was going to do next, sharing 1-2s – there really was some great chemistry and in my view it was a revelation. It was the first time that I had seen Sergio play and I was mightily impressed. His first touch was great, his feet were quick and he was strong on the ball. His talent hasn’t gone previously unnoticed and Barcelona have been very interested in the 20 year old and have actually agreed a first option deal on the player who recently signed a contract to keep him at Betis until 2017.

The first goal came on the half an hour mark. Juanfran, who was much quieter today and took a few rough tackles off a few Bolton players, ricocheted the ball into the box and Jorge Molina was there to wrap his foot around it and guide it into the corner. Not much else of note happened apart from neat passing play and Betis being dominant and superior in every area of play.

The second half entailed of much of the same. Bolton did have a little spell and showed a bit more urgency and intent but the Betis defence stood up well. It looked much more secure than it did against Huddersfield. Perquis and Paulao looked very solid together and Anderson in goal did not put a glove wrong, making a few good saves. I was impressed with Perquis who did his job comfortably and confidently, getting stuck in when necessary, even if he did probably make more passes back to the keeper than forward when he had possession!

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Verdú being substituted

Verdú absolutely ran the show. I commented on twitter at the time that he was like a magnet to the ball and his foot had glue on it. It really was a masterclass. He rounded his display off by showing another attribute to his game, set piece ability. In the 70th minute he showed pinpoint accuracy and technique by curling a freekick passed Adam Bogdan from around 25 yards out. His second goal in successive games. Even the Bolton fans were applauding.

With the job done Pepe Mel made a few changes, bringing Cedrick, Matilla and Steinhofer on for the last 15 minutes and then later on we saw a glimpse of Figueras, Salva Sevilla and Nono. I didn’t expect Cedrick to get any minutes tonight considering he only just got in the country on the day after his documentation problem.

The undoubted highlights of the night for me were: i) the way Verdú controlled the game from start to when he was substituted, ii) the attacking midfield pairing of Verdú and Sergio – real chemistry. I also want to give a shout out to Carlos García (pictured). He is a holding/defensive midfield and he played his role like a really pro. He looked natural, confident and classy. He really did remind of Sergio Busquets.

Next up for los verdiblancos is the Molineux tomorrow evening (4pm kick off) where they take on Wolves. Expect to see starting those that didn’t today or who came on late, plus those who didn’t get on such as Caro and Chuli, the man who bagged a hat-trick on Wednesday night.

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Betis bus parked outside the Reebok

Next up for los verdiblancos is the Molineux tomorrow evening (4pm kick off) where they take on Wolves. Expect to see starting those that didn’t today or who came on late, plus those who didn’t get on such as Caro and Chuli, the man who bagged a hat-trick on Wednesday night.


Huddersfield Town 2 – 4 Real Betis: Debut hat-trick for Chuli

Betis kicked off their English pre-season campaign with a bangon Wednesday night thanks to a mightily impressive display from new centre-forward Chuli, who grabbed himself a hat-trick.

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Betis bus outside the John Smith Stadium in Huddersfield

It was a fine evening in Huddersfield which was accompanied with a ‘room for improvement’ performance, particularly in the defensive department. Unfortunately (particularly for me), Rubén Castro, who was supposed to start, pulled out of the squad altogether which I can only assume is down to the injury that ruled him out of the last couple of games. Correct decision; there is no need to be rushed back.

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Betis enjoy their first game on English soil

The first half 11 lined up as so: Anderson in goal; Steinhofer (debutee), Perquis, Paulao, Nacho in defence; Carlos García, Nosa, Verdu and Nono in midfield; Chuli (debutee) and Molina up front. It was by no means a conventional 4-4-2 with Nono playing from wide left and Verdu through the middle.

It didn’t start to brightly with Huddersfield having the better of the play and James Vaughan put them ahead after 11 minutes with a back post header. It could have got a touch unsavoury in the 17th minute when Nono and Clayton squared up after a tough 50/50. Nono did thrust his head at Clayton and probab

ly would have seen red if it had been a competitive match, but his handbags got him a yellow card instead. The play settled and Betis got their passing game going. Patience finally paid off when Verdú nodded home Steinhofer’s cross for his first goal in verdiblanco colores. Two minutes later Betis were in the lead when Chuli finished off a Paulao flick on at the back post with a good finish into the roof of the net.

Pepe Mel made 9 changes at half time: Guille Sara came on in goal for his debut; Chica, Jordi Figueras (debutee), Caro and Alex Martínez in defence; Matilla, Nono (DMF) and Salva Sevilla (AMF) in midfield; then Chuli stayed central, Juanfran on the right, Sergio Rodríguez on the left.

Within the first 6 minutes of the second half Betis were 4-1 up thanks to the unstoppable combination of Juanfran and Chuli. You could see Pepe Mel getting frustrated at the lack of fast ball from the goalkeeper and defence as he gesticulated and shouted towards new goalkeeper Sara. From a set piece Sara gathered and distributed accurately and rapidly to Juanfran on the

right wing who whipped in a cross which was finished by Chuli. Chuli’s hat-trick goal was much of the same. Lots of promise with that combination indeed. Huddersfield grabbed a goal back in the 52nd minute with Paterson looping one over Sara’s head but a comeback was never on the cards.

Nothing much more happened after that and the game petered out with Betis keeping possession in the centre of the park. It was a good run out for Betis who did look sharp at times and a bit rusty in others. Verdu looked tidy and direct in the first half. Nono looked tidy with the ball but he never looked too threatening in making a breakthrough. Jorge Molina looked a little tired and couldn’t get his rhythm during his first half.

No doubt the stars of the show were Juanfran and the taker home of the match ball, Chuli.

I also must mention the Béticos who made the journey over from Seville. The match day announcer told that 40 made the trip, which allowed me to try out some very rusty Spanish. Plus I could see around 10-20 non-Spanish Béticos. Huddersfield staff were very pleasant and helpful and the fans were also very friendly.

Mucho Betis, mucho Betis eh eh!

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Pepe Mel stalking the touchline in the second half