Euro 2016 Match Day 2 Review

With 24 games played out of the 51 scheduled, we’re already nearly half way through Euro 2016! Match day 2 hasn’t had as many off-field antics as match day 1 did, which is good news, but it has had a few more exciting games with a shed load of late drama.

Even though there have been two nil nils in MD 2, even they have been pretty entertaining! Despite this the number of influential substitutions and late goals has been remarkable.

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Euro 2016: Scores on the Doors after Match Day 1

It’s been a fascinating start to Euro 2016. We’ve had the good (great goals, fantastic atmospheres), the bad (red cards, Germany’s coaching staff dress attire) and the ugly (horrendous fighting, Joachim Löw’s scratch and sniff manoeuvre) – and we are only five days into the tournament!

With Portugal and Iceland (go on the Icemen!) rounding off proceedings last night, we have now seen all the teams show us what they’ve got to offer in the 2016 edition of the European Championships. It hasn’t been too exciting on the pitch with a lot of teams playing it fairly safe and keeping it tight to avoid any catastrophic starts, but we haven’t seen any goalless draws which is always good news.

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News update – signings, money and Euro 2016

It doesn’t seem like five minutes since the season finished, but Real Betis are already a club on the move. With Gus Poyet at the helm and new Sporting Director Miguel Torrecilla hitting the ground running, things are moving quickly again at the club.

Signings and potentials

First signing of the season was Riza Durmisi. He’s a very promising 22 year old Danish full back who likes to get forward. He’s already played 10 times for the national team including the other day against Bosnia where it’s reported he had a very good game, helping to set up two goals. Last season the left-footer was making a good name for himself and attracting attention all over Europe, including from Everton. In 2015 he won Brondy Player of the Year which inclined Betis to activate his €2m release clause and sign a 5 year deal.

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News round-up over the International break

First and foremost, apologies for the silent treatment – holidays and what not have somewhat taken over.

We’re coming to the end of an International break with the final games being played tonight (Monday). Spain are already safely through to the finals next summer as Group C winners. They take on Ukraine with an experimental line-up. Of most interest to me is the inclusion of Celta de Vigo striker, Nolito, who happens to be from my adopted Spanish home – Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

So, what’s been happening in the world of Betis? 

The break came at a bad time for Betis who were enjoying a good spell. They recorded back to back wins for the first time this season with wins over Sporting Gijón and Rayo! They were the first back to back victories since the end of May in fact when they beat Racing Santander and Alcorcón to seal promotion and that includes pre-season!

Betis made the most of the break and scheduled a friendly with Mérida, a team from Extremadura. The game played out 0-0 to which Betis won the succeeding penalty shoot out. It was a chance for Pepe Mel to look at the fringe players. Mel opted for Dani G in goal, a back four of Molinero, Pezzella, Jordi and Tarek, defensive midfield of Digard and Xavi Torres, and the rest made up of Kadir, Fabián, Vadillo and Rennella.

vadillo real betis

Forgotten Man: Alvaro Vadillo

Two names stand out for me: that of Didier Digard getting his first full 90 minutes for Betis and the return of the forgotten man, Alvaro Vadillo.

After injury Digard desperately needed 90 minutes to up his fitness as he is a player that could come in useful this season. Vadillo very nearly joined Rayo in the summer in a loan deal, but it fell through. Since then he has got his head gone, had to train on his own and worked hard. He got his first minutes here since May and Mel was surprised with his fitness saying he had gone “quite well”.

I’m glad Vadillo stayed and believe he can play a big part in this team too. He plays an almost identical position to Joaquín and I think he can learn a lot from this magnificent pro.

Change in Style

It’s come to light that Betis have had a style change. Instead of possession football they have gone all Sam Allardyce Bolton Wanderers on us. From a wannabe Barcelona they have transformed into a solid block, pressing hard, closing down spaces and playing much more direct. It’s a directness with precision which has become effective, as evidenced in the last game against Rayo.

This should put it into perspective: only Levante have made fewer passes in the league this year!

Pepe Mel summed it up nicely after the Rayo game, he said, “Rayo were waiting for the other Betis.” After a good start to the season, we hope this solid, yet dangerous block will continue to develop and improve.

Ceballos situation still hasn’t been resolved

Let’s be clear, Real Madrid want to sign him. He would like to move to Madrid (most young Spanish players would) but he is also happy at Betis. He has an offer on the table from Betis to make him the third highest earning player here after Rubén Castro and Joaquín; otherwise known as a bloody good offer.

There could be a deal done where Madrid sign the player, but he remains at Betis for another year or two. Madrid aren’t in a rush for him as he won’t walk into the starting line-up, they just want to snap up the talent so no one else gets him.

Players to go in January

Sporting Director, Eduardo Macià, has said that more players will leave in January than come in, if any do. Betis currently have a huge first team squad of 25, so it does need to be chopped down.

Next game for Betis is Espanyol at home on Saturday – look out for the preview.

Friendly: San Roque de Lepe 3 – 1 Betis

It was a bad evening for Betis as they fell 3-1 in Lepe. Pepe Mel started off with an 11 that theoretically featured many players you would expect to start in a La Liga match, but they didn’t really do themselves any justice at all.

Betis played earlier in the week and beat Coria 4-1, but they couldn’t repeat the process against a third tier Spanish side. They were lacking intensity and were out-fought in all areas of the pitch. Is this something to expect in a friendly match that means nothing? Possible yes, but you would like to see a bit of promise from the team, who are going to step up to a much higher level next season.

It was 1-1 at half time, thanks to Pezzella with his first goal for Betis after heading in from a Rafael Van der Vaart corner. Unfortunately, Van der Vaart could say the he’d opened his goal account too after having his penalty saved. With many potential league starters, the first half was very poor (as it was against Coria).

As expected there were a lot of changes at half time – 10 in fact – yet it didn’t make any positive difference, if anything it made Betis’ perform even worse. They created very little and conceded two more goals with errors occurring throughout the defence and from the usual reliable Adán in goal.

Mel has a lot to do to get this new look team in motion, on the same wavelength and performing well. The good news is that there is still plenty of time to brush off the cobwebs and work his magic.

The next match is against Athletic Bilbao on Thursday 23rd.

Varela renews his contract at Betis and is confident that Ceballos will too

After signing a new contract this week keeping him at Betis until June 2017, Francisco Varela has announced that midfield superstar in the making, Dani Ceballos, also wants to stay el Benito Villamarín, as speculation continues about where his future lies.

Ceballos in action against Barca B

Ceballos in action against Barca B

If you haven’t heard of Dani Ceballos yet, you will do in the near future.

Valera, who has come up through the Betis youth set-up with Ceballos, came in for criticism when he first broke into the team and some fans doubted his potential. However, he says that he has now demonstrated this season that he can play for Betis and do a good job at left back. Upon the subject of Ceballos, Valera is certain:

“Dani Ceballos wants to stay at Betis.” – Varela

varela web

Varela has signed a two-year extension

Varela has played in the same youth team as Ceballos since 2011, which implies that he has a good understanding surrounding the subject, although he states, ‘I don’t know the conditions of his renewal.’

The 20-year-old also heaped praise on the philosophy of new sporting director, Eduardo Macià. Varela says, ‘as a canterano, I am proud and happy that Macià has come with this idea to promote youth team players.’ He then insisted after learning his trade with Betis B, he is here to stay as a member of the first team.

Let’s hope Ceballos has the same intentions. The young Sevillano is having a brilliant time under Pepe Mel, influencing games and already becoming a key player at the tender age of 18. He has already featured for the Spanish u-21s, making his debut earlier this year in an impressive performance against Belarus. Now, Ceballos has been cited to play for the u-19s during the youth equivalent of the Euros, set to be played out in Greece between the 6th – 19th July. However, Spain has not yet qualified for the tournament.

The problem for Betis is that being a part of this squad would require the player attending a period of training in Madrid to prepare to qualify for these finals and then attend the finals themselves. In typically Spanish fashion, this training is scheduled for next week! As the season comes to a conclusion and with Betis still fighting it out for promotion to La Liga, the last thing they want is a disruption to their training regime with one of their best players missing. Should Ceballos be selected for the squad, he will then be required to take part in the Ronda Élite classification between Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Georgia. This mini-tournament is taking place during the penultimate jornada of the season, which could be vitally important to Betis’ promotion credentials. On this weekend, Betis face the tricky task of taking on Tenerife away from home and they will certainly want one of their most influential players available.

If Betis are not already promoted by this point, they can take the problem up with RFEF to ask for permission to keep Ceballos for such an important game.

Hola de nuevo!

Ha pasada mucho tiempo…

It has been a whole calendar year and some since I last caressed my fingers over the keyboard of Béticoblog. My very last post was saying hasta luego to Don Pepe Mel after his sacking from Real Betis Balompié on 2nd December 2013. How things have changed since then both for me and for Betis!

As everyone knows Pepe Mel is back again leading los verdiblancos! Evidence that the decision to sack him wasn’t the brightest idea from the board. However, in the immediate time between his two stints in charge, Betis have been in nothing short of turmoil.

Four managers in a year. Yes, FOUR. Two changes in Club President and one relegation. Some things haven’t changed though. Bad news that is unchanged: The saga with Señor Manuel Ruiz de Lopera is still on-going in the Seville courts. Good news that is unchanged: Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina are still firing the goals in.

So after:

1) Juan Carlos Garrido

2) Gaby Calderón

3) Julio Velázquez

4) Juan Merino,

Pepe Mel is back with a vengeance. Luckily, his stint at West Bromwich Albion wasn’t too successful and he is now back where he belongs. Since he took charge again, Betis have gone from strength to strength and are looking in fantastic shape to make return to La Liga. The table below as on Sunday 26th April makes for joyous viewing.

Arriba! Arriba! Arriba!

Arriba! Arriba! Arriba!

Betis’ form has been fantastic since the turn of the year. The last 10 games reads: W10, D1, L1. Now, with 7 games left to play, Betis are 8 points clear from dropping out of the automatic promotion places. This weekend, despite putting in a pretty rubbish display, we recorded a 2-1 away victory at Deportivo Aláves in the Basque Country thanks to goals from, you guessed it, Jorge Molina and Rubén Castro, and a rock solid performance from Adán in goal.

Little and Large: Molina y Rubén Castro

Little and Large: Molina y Rubén Castro

Next up is Llagostera at home (who just drew 0-0 with Betis rivals Sporting Gijón). I shall be provided updates of Betis’ progress as the strive for the glory land of La Liga! Viva el Betis!

Trigoleador Chuli habla

Chuli talks post match

The video above is hat-trick man Chuli talking about the game post match. I’m thankful for the transcription because he talks about as fast as he runs, rápidamente!

General feelings

He said that he was very happy with the confidence the manager showed in him in that he gave him the full 90 minutes. He said he found [the game] very good and that he is getting better every time he plays with the team, which was demonstrated on the pitch. He said he wants to work the maximum minutes. His job is what he did today, score goals and help the team as much as he can.

Position on the pitch

He said that out wide he is further away from the goal, but the boss knows what he’s doing and what he wants from me. In the two positions [out wide and centre forward] I feel comfortable. I’ve got the two goals playing as a forward but it’s true that [Huddersfield] were more tired.

Clearly, he’s very modest as well.

For those who don’t know much about Chuli, he is a 22 year old from Huelva in Andalucía. He started off his professional career at Espanyol B before moving back to his home club Recreativo de Huelva – who at 123 years old, are the oldest club in Spain. He spent two seasons at Recre, first of all appearing for the B side before moving up to the senior side. He scored 37 goals in 70 games whilst at Recre. Betis then snapped him up for around €600,000 in May 2013. He has been given the number 9 shirt and he looks like a younger Rubén Castro, in looks and the way he plays. I think he will be able to come on leaps and bounds at Betis under the tutelage of Pepe Mel and Castro; I wait in joyful hope.

A new verdiblanco – Bienvenido Joan Verdú

A piece of news thverduat nobody anticipated, Real Betis have completed the signing of, as the Spanish like to say, un crack! Despite being given a 4 year contract at the age of 30, Joan Verdú is very, very good business. He is a clever midfielder, experienced, great on the ball and a leader, and it makes saying adios to Beñat much easier.

Verdú arrives in the green and white side of Seville from the gold and red of Cataluña, Barcelona-based Espanyol to be precise. He has a great reputation in Spain and we will act as a good mentor for the younger midfielders, such as Alvaro Vadillo, Nosa, Nono and Vilarchao. Even better news is that Verdú was free as he was out of contract. Many expected him to follow the money and he was linked with a big offer from Greek side Olympiakos. But not to be. He joined the ambitious and passion club that is Real Betis.

I feel that Pepe Mel, Vlada Stosic and the rest of the decision makers and strengthening the squad nicely ahead of the up and coming Europa League campaign.

Verdú is the 6th pre-season signing. The others include:

Danish goalkeeper, Stephen Anderson. Exciting midfielder Juanfran from Real Madrid Castilla. Winger, Cedric, from Numancia. Chile international Lorenzo Reyes from is a midfielder bought from Huachipato. And finally (so far), striker Chuli arrives from Recreativo.

lolo reyes

Lorenzo Reyes in action for Chile against Brazil

Peña Cultural Bética Chipiona.

ImageThe first post is much more daunting than I thought it would be. You set up a blog to share your words and none end up coming! Then logic kicks in, why not start at the beginning?

And here it is, the beginning, where my journey on the beticismo road kicked off. It was July 2010 and it was a bright, glorious day in Chipiona – a small, coastal town in the south-west corner of Spain. Home no less, to the tallest lighthouse in Spain, the third tallest in Europe and to several exquisite varieties of Moscatel (or what was soon to be known as ‘sunshine in glass’). My girlfriend and I were also only staying here because there was no room to stay in the town of our intentions, Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

However, it was in this town of Chipiona where I first came across this great piece of artwork that captured my attention – Peña Cultural Bética. It made me think and it made me want to learn more. Now at this point I must admit, as I embarked on my journey to live in Spain I fully expected that I would come to support the nearest La Liga team, which was Sevilla FC. A certain Real Betis side, languishing in La Segunda, did not cross my mind.

We soon made it to Sanlúcar where I was introduced and further inducted to the sleeping giant of Real Betis. The green and white bandera of Andalucía was everywhere as were lots of Béticos! There was even more green and white to be seen from the local team, Atlético Sanluqueño. It seemed natural that I should support Real Betis. And so I did. And here I am now, still.

My plan now is to bring news and write musings about Real Betis and other such verdiblanco-ness. I hope you enjoy reading the work in progress that is this Bético Blog.

Viva Andalucía y musho Betis!