The moment we’ve all been waiting for…

…is finally here. Real Betis Balompié return to top class European action tonight. Standing in the way of a victory is Remí Garde’s Olympique Lyonnais.

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Enjoy after so much suffering – headline from AFDLP

The squad is on a real high after out-classing Valencia at the weekend with a runaway 3-1 victory. The team tonight is likely to be much changed as Pepe Mel tries to keep things fresh. Betis bought heavily during the summer for that reason, enabling the team to battle on more than just one front.

Many have cited that tonight might be a ‘reserve’ team. Far from it. Nosa should start and Verdú is likely to return as well as Damien Perquis, both after injury lay offs. Expected to provide the defence on the flanks are Steinhofer and Dídac.   Rubén Castro is likely to be lying in wait on the bench. Béticos need not fear a dismal effort on the Europa League front. The club have worked so hard to get here, they are not going to through it all away and be out of the competition as soon as they can.

In his press conference Mel said, “Our aspirations in the Europa League are the maximum”. It’s just that Mel doesn’t want the league form to suffer, which is highly understandable. Therefore, players who played at the weekend are likely to be rested and vice versa next time.

I really like AFDLP’s headlinetoca disfrutar después de tanto sufrimiento – Enjoy after so much suffering.

There is not much else to say apart from that it all gets under at precisely 20:05 GMT in el Benito Villamarín.

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The European Assault continues – Group I

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Europa League Group I

So it was made official yesterday around midday when Betis were drawn in Group I of the Europa League alongside Lyon, the usual Champions Leaguers, Vitoria Guimaraes (of Portugal) and HNK Rijeka (of Croatia).

I personally was hoping for an English side, i.e. Wigan, for my own purely selfish reasons, but as I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, they made have to wait for the knockout stages.

I don’t know much about Guimaraes other than that they are based near Braga and that they finished 9th last season. I know even less about Rijeka, only that they finished 3rd in their league last season behind Dinamo Zagreb and Lokomotiva. Lyon, clearly, are more well known. They are managed by Remi Garde and didn’t make it to the Champions League this year after finishing 3rd in their home competition behind PSG (Champions) and Marseille. Without doubt, Lyon will provide Betis with the stiffest opposition considering their European pedigree, getting to the semi-finals of the CL in the 2009-10 season.

Of course Betis wouldn’t have been in that draw yesterday had they not won against Baumit Jablonec – something which they did convincingly. 6-0 the game ended up at el Benito Villamarín with goals coming from Rubén Castro, an own goal, Matilla, Molina, Braian and Xavi Torres. It meant that on aggregate Betis had won 8-1.

Béticos need only wait around 3 weeks till their next stint of European action when on the 19th September (Matchday 1) they take of European giants Lyon. The group stages conclude on the 12th December with the top 2 teams going through, making it 24 teams in the knockout stages. On a side note, and by my counting, there have already been 126 teams eliminated from this years competition!

Now #EuroBetis can be endorsed and supported as much as possible as it is now real!

Viva el Betis!

Tonight is the night – Betis (2) vs Jablonec (1)

Tonight is the night to get into the draw tomorrow. Betis can secure their place in the Europa League main draw which is taking place tomorrow in Monaco with a victory over their Czech opponents.

Betis won a week ago with a 2-1 away victory in the Czech Republic to give their team a great chance to advance. However, the lead is slender and with Betis’ shaky defence and finishing issues against Celta they need to be very careful, smart and focussed. Betis have an uncanny knack of making things really complicated for themselves from controlled positions. No doubt Pepe Mel has drilled all this into his players: this is the biggest game the club has played for years. As AFDLP put it, Betis have to enjoy, live for the moment and enrich their experience – that goes for the fans as well!

The 19 Pepe Mel has picked to send Betis to Europa League proper are: Andersen, Sara; Nacho, Jordi Figueras, Paulao, Amaya, Chica; Carlos García, Nono, Matilla, Salva Sevilla, Xavi Torres, Verdú, Cedrick, Juanfran; Chuli, Braian, Jorge Molina & Rubén Castro.

No place in the squad for Vadillo, who started last week, or for Markus Steinhofer. Perquis is out after getting injured against Celta.

Expect Pepe Mel to change his system to more of a 4-4-2, although a slightly asymmetrical one. We could see Salva Sevilla and Juanfran form a part of the starting line-up. Jorge Molina will start again upfront, hopefully with his scoring boots, and Rubén Castro will take his place on the bench having just come back from injury. Hopefully Rubén will only need to be used as part of a planned second half change and not in haste or panic.

The game kicks off at 20:30 GMT so there is a little over than an hour till kick off. For sure el Benito Villamarín will be bouncing. Mucha suerta to the players – let’s get in that draw!

 

7 years later – EuroBetis

As Real Betis Balompié official website put it – El EuroBetis entra en escena siete años después – EuroBetis enter the stage 7 years later.

Tonight’s game against Czech Republic opposition, FK Jablonec, will cap a remarkable turnaround for the Real Betis. To say a lot has happened since Betis took on the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Anderlecht in the Champions League group stages, would be an understatement.

Relegation. Theft. Fraud. Administration. Law suits. Promotion.

And now here we are on the cusp of full blown European competition again – 7 years and 5 months, or 2,716 days, since Betis bowed out to Steaua Bucharest in quarter finals of the UEFA cup in 2006.

Betis are now in a much better place and are being led by two incredible Spaniards who are Béticos through and through. Miguel Guillén and Rafael Gordillo travelled yesterday from Seville to Prague to lead the green and white army into battle. In tow were Pepe Mel and 20 players picked to do the business.

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Nacho training in the Chance Arena

The likely line-ups for tonight’s game are:

Real Betis: Sara; Steinhöfer, Paulao, Perquis, Nacho; Xavi Torres, Nosa, Verdú; Vadillo, Cedrick & Jorge Molina.

FK Jablonec: Spit; Kubista, Kysela, Benes, Novak; Kopic, Loucka, Pitak, Cizek; Vanek & Hubnik.

The game kicks off in the aptly named Chance Arena at 5pm GMT (6pm CET).

Betis obviously need to win the tie over two legs to be put into the draw for the Europa League group stages. If they can do that, it will be an unbelievable moment for the club once again.

Vamos EuroBetis!

Picture from http://www.alfinaldelapalmera.com