As a large swath of Europe thaws out after a week of sub-zero temperatures, Betis will be making a trip across Spain to Valencia, where it is currently a balmy 18 degrees. As far as fixtures go in jornada 27, forget about top of the table clash between Barcelona and Atletico, Valencia vs Betis is the stand out in my highly unbiased opinion. If the 6-3 reverse fixture earlier in the season is anything to go, the game itself will be red hot.
Over the years this is the type of fixture that would raise an eyebrow and a brief head nod for any Spanish football enthusiast. With two of Spain’s iconic clubs going head-to-head, it’s an enticing, aesthetically pleasing fixture with potential to be a cracker.
In the last few seasons, it’s fair to say that neither team has had a vintage crop of players. In years gone by, Valencia were the perennial third placers with the odd league title, before Atlético Madrid turned up to rudely take that act. Meanwhile Betis have somewhat continued to be the unexpected Betis.
Since Pepe Mel was relinquished of his role first time around, Betis on the whole haven’t been worth watching. However, the times they are a changin’.
Betis are back. At least so far anyway. We have been re-envigorated since Quique Setién took over in the summer playing seven so far this season, winning four and scoring 14. Setién has also brought his style of football, which after a few teething problems, has started to look very effective. Good possession, dynamism, teamwork and effectiveness going forward. Some of our goals this season have been Barcelona tiki-taka-esque. The winner against Real Madrid was pure poetry in motion.
For their own part, Valencia have been rolling back the years. Consecutive 3-2 wins away at Real Soecidad, then at home to Athletic, preceded by a 5-0 hammering of Málaga.
Aside from the surface aesthetics, this is now a fixture to watch for the right reasons once again.
Betis-Valencia team news
Betis have the chance to make history this evening, by winning a fourth consecutive home game. The last time that was achieved was in the 2001/02 season. Before that was 1964/65 and before that was the title-winning team of 1934-35. In short, it’s not happened much. The new stadium has bred a new inner strength.
Tonny Sanabria looks like a new player. Scoring four in his last three games, he could be starting up front alongside the evergreen Joaquín and the tenacious Sergio León, although he could make way for Cristian Tello, who with his pace and skill, looks like a constant threat.
In midfield will be the impressively classy Andres Guardado, alongside Camarasa and the new hottest talent on the block – Fabían. What a player he could turn out to be. Dani Ceballos who? Javi García, who has been a key figure this season, misses out through a quad injury. The back five is looking stable and fairly solid.
What Setién has done for Betis, Marcelino has done for Valencia. Simone Zaza has been excellent this season as has Rodrigo alongside him. One of Valencia’s biggest changes is that they seemed to have sured up a leaky defence with Kondogbia patrolling just in front and Murillo and Garay forming a good partnership.
Kick off is 19:45 GMT tonight (20:45 Spain) live from el Benito Villamarin. Be sure to tune in for this one.
Viva el Betis!
I’m not one to blow my own trumpet but my parting words on my Valencia-Betis preview last weekend were…
“I don’t think there is a much better time to take on Valencia who are looking quite weak at the time. It’s a big game on Sunday for Betis (aren’t they all) and Poyet says the players know the importance of the game. I’ve got a feeling that we may pull a very good result out of the bag and perhaps Poyet can get his first win as manager and Betis can break that 30 year La Mestalla losing streak.”
And win we did!
The weekend is here we all look forward, when international duty is finally over! Betis return to la liga action this Sunday in what could be the start of our push up the table. It’s not been the smoothest starts with a defeat and a loss but Manager Gus Poyet will have had over two weeks to work with most of his players and get them more accustomed to his tactics and work on things that haven’t gone right.
At 4pm CET (3pm UK) they take on a very complicated Valencia side who have had the worst start of any primera team. Los Che side themselves rock-bottom of the table after being beaten by Las Palmas (2-4) and Eibar (1-0). Not impressive at all against two sides they should definitely be beating. The former third place perennial finishers have not had a good time of late and it’s Betis’ turn to pile the pressure on.
Gus Poyet knows this too and says the fans expect more and that the team will be delivering. However, Betis haven’t won at La Mestalla in 30 years! Would be some win on Sunday is Poyet and los verdiblancos can deliver.
Betis have hit a rich vein of form, yes that’s correct they beat Valencia last weekend; a whole one win on the bounce. It was a savoured moment, a glimpse of light striking through a long, dark tunnel that we’ve been recently travelling through.
Betis’ last league win came at the tail end of November when they beat Levante. Since then they’d gone 9 league games without a win. Looks like Gary Neville is gunning for that record with the way his Valencia team are playing. I’m going to say Betis deserved the victory last weekend. It was 1-0 and Valencia could have snatched a point towards the end but it wasn’t to be and Betis hung on for a much needed win. I must admit we have looked a lot better in our last four games against some very good La Liga teams – draw against Villarreal and Madrid, narrow defeat at Real Sociedad and a win against Valencia.
Let’s start off with the news that always raises a few eyebrows and often helps to create a renewed vigour around a club: new signings. During the January transfer window Sporting Director Macìa has brought in three new arrivals.
The latest to come in was Brazilian forward Leandro Damiao, signed on a short-term contract until the end of the season. Damiao has a good record having played 17 times for Brazil and winning several titles in South America but has struggled for form the last few seasons having played for Internacional, Santos and Cruzeiro. Negotiations looked to have stalled to bring Damiao in, with the Betis board, being led by Ollero, in disagreement between their priorities. However, Haro and Catalan took over negotiations (explained later) and the deal was pulled off.
Betis take on their second big boy of the season on Saturday when they make the trip to La Mestalla.
After a good win last weekend, the confidence around Betis has been boosted. They take on a Valencia who have made an unbeaten start to their La Liga campaign with two draws and a 1-0 win away at new boys Sporting Gijón.
Los Che did lose midweek when they took on Zenit St Petersburg. A 3-2 loss at home is hardly going to fill tnem with confidence.
I think Betis can go to the Mestalla on Saturday with full confidence that they can get a result.
I am going on holiday on Friday morning (lucky me!) so I won’t be posting the usual preview of team news and post-game views. I shall be keeping an eye on the score though from the beach.
Viva el Betis!
As Betis are likely to be making a highly anticipated return to La Liga, I thought I would share a video of all the goals from round 36. Also, with a strike announced for the remaining of the season (correct when published), it could be the last La Liga goals you see for a while!
…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.
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 headline – toca 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.
That kind of performance and show in finishing was well overdue…but was probably worth waiting for! After dominating halves against Real Madrid and Celta Vigo without scoring (and playing out a 0-0 against Espanyol), the players suddenly remembered how to score during the first half against Valencia.
Without Rubén Castro and Verdú some (many) would have been forgiven in thinking that tonight may have been a long night. But when the team sheet was released, I certainly felt a sense of optimism. I liked Matilla and Xavi Torres in the anchor role, I liked the look of Salva through the middle, I liked Juanfran and Vadillo on the wings and I was hopeful of a good Molina performance through the middle.
The team had a good balance to it and my thoughts were vindicated after 8 minutes when Molina capitalised on some shabby defending to fire into the bottom corner from just outside the box. Salva then finished off two very good passing moves. The first after some great, intricate play in the middle and the second after a strong run down the wing from Vadillo and a pinpoint cross. Betis were 3-0 up at half time and cruising.
During half time I had my doubts whether the game was actually over (naturally being a Bético and having been in similar positions before). But comfortingly Betis played out the team very well. Yes, they did concede a goal and for a minute or two a Valencia comeback could have been on, but, alas, it was squashed and Betis finished much the stronger side and could have scored a few more goals.
In my opinion not one player had a bad game and one of the most pleasing aspects was the clever tactics and substitutions from Pepe Mel. He actually brought on a DM in the shape of Lolo Reyes to help close out the game and brought on some more pace, in Cedrick, to hurt Valencia on the counter, which he did. It will be interesting to see how Pepe Mel plays it with a fully fit Rubén (who returned to training today) and Verdú.
All in all, a very pleasing night! Now there is a short wait till Thursday, when Betis make their bow in the Europa League against Lyon in el Benito Villamarín.
For an in-depth and comprehensive match report please see ForeverBetis.com where the fantastic Adam gives his frequent views and analysis.