Sanabria – who he is and what he’s about

Paraguayan forward Tonny Sanabria jetted into Sevilla last night to prepare for his move to Real Betis and become the 7th signing of the pre-season. He was met at San Pablo airport by Miguel Torrecilla and shortly after photographed with a verdiblanco scarf to put any doubters at bay and give fans a real sense of anticipation.

On Wednesday he successfully completed his medical and will sign for Betis in the evening before joining his new teammates in Marbella.

Obviously Betis have made a large number of signings the past couple of seasons but this one seems different. More significant. As mentioned in my previous blog, we’ve already made six very good signings but this almost seems like a steppe change for the club. Last summer, yes, we had the likes of Joaquín and Van der Vaart join the club but these players are in the twilight of their career (VdV more towards midnight) – Sanabria isn’t though.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Sanabria – Who Is He & What’s He About?

Paraguayan forward Tonny Sanabria jetted into Sevilla last night to prepare for his move to Real Betis and become the 7th signing of the pre-season. He was met at San Pablo airport by Miguel Torrecilla and shortly after photographed with a verdiblanco scarf to put any doubters at bay and give fans a real sense of anticipation.

On Wednesday he successfully completed his medical and will sign for Betis in the evening before joining his new teammates in Marbella.

Obviously Betis have made a large number of signings the past couple of seasons but this one seems different. More significant. As mentioned in my previous blog, we’ve already made six very good signings but this almost seems like a steppe change for the club. Last summer, yes, we had the likes of Joaquín and Van der Vaart join the club but these players are in the twilight of their career (VdV more towards midnight) – Sanabria isn’t though.

Continue reading

Hay Betis!

Yesterday’s match was one of the most enjoyable ones of the season for me. The fans were in jubilant mood, which was buoyed by the team providing some much needed entertainment, especially for the second half.

Getafe started the game with a super intense tempo, knowing full well that their la liga fate was theirs to determine: get a win and they were safe. They pressed high and hard and put Betis under the cosh coming close on a number of occasions. Scepovic really should have scored from a Sarabia cross but his diving header whistled past the post. But Betis resisted and eventually began to get a grip on the game and came close too when Jorge Molina was slipped through gloriously by Dani Ceballos. The man from Alcoy in his last game in green and white saw his name in lights but couldn’t apply the finish. To be fair Guaita stuck out a huge left hand and made a fine save. Betis should have had a penalty with one of the clearest hand balls you’re ever likely to see from Pereira, but protests were ignored by the ref.

Continue reading

A day of farewells & sub-plots

Today’s final game brings with it a number of farewells (some certain, others more hypothetical). Entangled within these farewells are various sub-plots as the 2015/16 la liga season draws to a close.

Of the certain farewells, we say adios to Jorge Molina after six years at Betis. The big man up top has been a loyal servant for los verdiblancos playing 217 times and scoring 77 goals. He’s helped Betis to achieve two promotions to la liga, the first time being in his first season where he was the top goalscorer with 18 goals. The following season he made his primera division debut at the tender age of 29! His time at Betis has come to a natural end, having only scored one goal this season, but fans won’t forget the good times.

Continue reading

Betis vs Sporting Gijón – 4th time this season

Fairly big game coming up this evening, one being billed as a February ‘final’. Both teams are in their promotion season, split by just three points in the bottom half of the table and striving to move away from the feared relegation zone.

I’m not sure I would describe it as a ‘final’ but it’s certainly a game Betis should be eyeing with a victory in mind. The teams have faced each three times already this season, twice in the Copa del Rey – two wins to the verdiblancos and a draw. So, it’s fair to say the teams know each other, likely tactics and what to expect.

Continue reading

Report: Sporting 1-2 Betis – Joaquín & R.Castro do the business!

Betis had 3 players to thank as they took all 3 points back to Andalucía: Antonio Adán, Joaquín and Rubén Castro.

The first half was a huge disappointment for Betis. A lack of urgency, ideas and ability. Sporting were completely the better team and if it wasn’t for Antonio Adán, it could have easily been 3-0 to the hosts.

Sporting went one-nil up through Castro after good wing play by on-loan dangerman Halilovic. Someone in green really should have put a foot in, but the Barcelona loanee wriggled from the wing and slid it into Castro’s feet. Castro made a movement towards the ball then turned back towards goal, completely selling out Bruno and Westermann before applying a good finish.

It needed an inspiring half time team talk from Pepe Mel to spur his Betis side into action.

Just a minute after the restart and Betis were level. Cejudo bounced on an error in the Sporting half and delivered a nice lofted cross to Rubén Castro who nodded it across into the path of Joaquín to head in across the goal into the opposite corner for his first Betis goal since resigning.

Pure poetry in motion.

Betis took the lead not long after. It started with a Sporting corner from which Adán made a save. He then whacked the ball upfield to Rubén who cleverly nudged the centre half in the back to leave him in a sprint for the ball with the other defender.

Castro got there first and from just outside the area absolutely thundered the ball which pinged off the bar and into the back of the net – Tony Yeboah style.

Since his signing in 2010, Rubén Castro has scored 34% of Betis league goals – 105 of 303 (stat via @pedritonumeros).

Antonio Adán continued his wonderful performance producing a number of vital saves in the second half.

Ceballos and Joaquín made way for Petros and Molina as Pepe Mel looked to close out the game. It really should have finished 3-1 when Molina somehow missed an open goal.

Whatever Pepe Mel said at half time worked and he will be ecstatic to take all the points back to el Villamarín.

Viva el Betis!

Preview: Sporting Gijón vs Betis (Sunday, 11am)

Sunday’s game for Betis is the time for a reaction.

In the week I’ve been away, Betis have had a mixed to poor bag of results. It started off with a 0-0 draw away to Valencia on Saturday, which has to go down as a good result. On Thursday they had a good chance to collect three points against Deportivo La Coruña, who had lost the previous week to Betis’ next opponents, Sporting.

The game didn’t go according to plan and Betis lost 2-1. Depor’s first goal was a worldy strike from Fede Cartabia with the ball cannoning in off the underside of the bar. Betis levelled through Petros only to concede again a couple of minutes later to a poor goal from a verdiblanco point of view. Petros gave it away on the half way line, Sporting sprung a break and clinically finished.

The Opponents

Sporting are familiar opponents to Betis having played against them last year in the segunda division. They finished in second place, two points behind Pepe Mel’s boys, and were automatically promoted after a 3-0 win at Betis on the last day of the season. Both sides have made a steady start to their new la liga lives and each have five points from five games – 1 win, 2 draws and 2 losses.

Betis should travel to Asturias with confidence though having won there 2-1 last season. Since then, the squad of Betis has been heavily strengthened whereas Sporting’s has remained largely the same due to their financial problems. Sporting, managed by Abelardo Fernández, have played twice this season at their El Molinón ground and have failed to score in either.

Los rojiblancos do have a couple of decent players in midfield: one is Jony, who Betis were very interested in during the summer, and the other is Halilovic, who is on loan from Barcelona.

Betis team news – N’Diaye returns

Good news for Pepe Mel is that man-mountain Alfred N’Diaye will return in the centre of midfield. He was missed on Thursday against Deportivo, where Van der Vaart, Xavi Torres and Petros combined probably didn’t make up for the ground N’Diaye usually covers.

Van der Vaart is out of the game having become injured against Deportivo. He made his Villamarín debut on Thursday, but it was definitely not one to remember. I didn’t watch the game, but many were faulting his attitude and were generally unimpressed with the Dutchman. Room for improvement then. Also out is left back Manuel Vargas with a knee injury. Defenders Molinero and Varela return to the squad.

Here’s the full 19 man squad: Adán, Dani; Bruno, Jordi, Westermann, Piccini, Molinero, Varela; N’Diaye, Xavi Torres, Petros, Ceballos, Cejudo, Joaquín, Portillo; Rennella, Van Wolfswinkel, Molina & Rubén Castro.

Goals needed

The problem Betis are suffering from is a distinct lack of goals. They’ve managed just 3 from 5 this season (which is at least a bit more positive than Málaga’s 0 in 5). Again there is still a reliance on Rubén Castro who really does need a bit of help from the others.

Although he has been a great servant, I’m not sure if Jorge Molina can still cut the mustard at this level. Could it be time to give Ricky Van Wolfswinkel a start? Maybe. In midfield, N’Diaye will come in and I hope he is paired with Dani Ceballos, who is one of few who gives Betis a bit of impetus. He came off the bench to provide Petros with an assist on Thursday.

Los verdiblancos will be certainly looking for 3 golden points on Sunday. A draw would be a mediocre result and a loss could set the tone for the whole season to come. Important game then.

Betis are set to fly to Gijón this afternoon and are set to arrive for 7pm where they will stay in a hotel before the early morning kick-off – 11am in the UK, 12 noon in Spain.

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.