Betis back in La Liga!

Estamos en primera (Picture from Francisco Molinero's twitter account)

Estamos en primera (Picture from Francisco Molinero’s twitter account)

Real Betis are officially a La Liga team. 393 days after they were relegated; they are back!

A satisfying 3-0 victory over Alcorcón on Sunday confirmed just this. Yesterday morning, I wrote on BlogBetis that if one of three scenarios occur, then promotion will be certified. The first two didn’t happen as Girona beat Llagostera and Sporting did the same to Tenerife. So Betis’ destiny was in their own hands, which I think was the scenario everybody was hoping for. Even if they didn’t win they would have had two more attempts.

Almost 50,000 cram into el Benito Villamarín

Almost 50,000 cram into el Benito Villamarín

However, Pepe Mel and his merry men wanted to do this in style, in el Benito Villamarín and in front of 48,462 loyal almas – souls – of Betis.  That is an incredible number for a second division Spanish football match against a team a lot people haven’t even heard of. More than Manchester City. More than Liverpool. More than Chelsea.

Last week I said that this upcoming week could be season-defining for Betis, with three games inside a week. It has been season-defining and it has highlighted how Pepe Mel has re-invigorated, re-energised and re-motivated this side. Los verdiblancos have won all three games: scoring 12 goals in the process and conceding three. They are back to their entertaining, exciting selves, something which has been entirely lost for over a year.

It was fitting that once again Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina helped Betis to strut over the line with aplomb. Castro bagged two more goals on Sunday to take his total to 32 goals for the season! His first goal was yet another sublime finish, sprinting through before flicking the ball over the goalkeepers head with consummate ease. His second a penalty. Molina rounded things off with a tap in, his 19th of the campaign. Queue mass celebrations in the stadium.

'Mucha emoción'

‘Mucha emoción’

As the final whistle went, there were hugs galore on the bench and hysteria in the stands. As the players and staff did the rounds on the pitch, Pepe Mel looked evidently emotional. What a moment this must have been for him; the perfect return.

The huge banner below is what Betisweb kept under raps until kick off. I mentioned in my last post that they had something secretive up their sleeve and this was it. A homage to one of the best front line combinations in Spanish football – Rubén Castro and Jorge Molina.

Betisweb homage to RC24 and Molina (from Marca.com)

Betisweb homage to RC24 and Molina (from Marca.com)

I don’t think anyone, bar a few extremely optimistic (or extremely naïve) people, would have envisioned nor predicted this ending at the start of the season.

‘I am in my home, where I want to be’ – Pepe Mel

Towards the end of Novemeber, Betis had won 6, drawn 3 and lost 5. Under the uninspiring Julio Velázquez, the outlook was pretty dismal. A few changes in the boardroom and a couple of inspired decisions later and Pepe Mel had returned to his rightful home. In his 21 league games, Betis have lost just once! Under Pepe Mel, Molina has scored 17 of his 19 goals. Under Pepe Mel came a renewed sense of worth and appetite, which has ultimately led to this fantastic achievement. The revival did all start under the caretaker manager, Juan Merino, before Mel took charge. Merino’s role in all of this is integral.

‘It has been the most complicated season of my career’ – Jorge Molina

And that is saying something. Things are just never easy or straightforward at Betis, as proved with this season’s shenanigans. This is the 12th time Betis have been promoted to La Liga – the most in the history of Spanish football. So, to say there are ups and downs would be an understatement.

The season isn’t over yet and there are two more games to play. The next challenge for Pepe Mel and co. is to become champions of the league.

Celebrating in the changing room

Celebrating in the changing room

http://videosdelbetis.com/videos/video-la-grada-verdiblanca-celebra-el-ascenso-verdiblanco/

The video above is from the fantastic videosdelbetis.com who produce some great stuff.

A Return to La Liga Promised Land?

Betis will be a La Liga team by the end of the day, if one of three scenarios occur:

  • If Girona lose to Llagostera
  • If Sporting Gijón don’t win against Tenerife
  • If Betis win against Alcorcón

Both Girona and Sporting play earlier this afternoon, so by the time Betis grace el Villamarín later on, and results have gone their way, they could already be in their natural place. If not then it is Betis’ own hands where they are likely to be playing in front of 50,000 La Liga hungry Béticos.

Players celebrate in El Sardinero after Thursday's win

Players celebrate in El Sardinero after Thursday’s win

On Thursday evening, Betis helped their ascension cause by placing a foot in La Primera with a 4-2 away win at Racing Santander. Two more goals from the unstoppable Rubén Castro, another from Jorge Molina and one from Bruno ensured that Pepe Mel’s men would return from northern Spain with all three vital points.

Two more goals from The Legend

Betisweb banner: Two more goals from The Legend

Racing took the lead early on, but Betis were quickly back on track with a solid Bruno header from a corner. Betis were 2-1 up by half time after a sublime goal from Rubén Castro. He cleverly combined with Kadir to then curl the ball into the top corner, ricocheting in off the post. The third came from Castro again as he lobbed the keeper from the edge of the area. The victory was assured by Jorge Molina smashed the goal in the top corner from outside the area with a suspected toe-bunge, whatever way he connected it was certainly a golazo. David Concha grabbed one back for Racing, but the game ended 4-2.

Pepe Mel made a few rotational changes on Thursday to keep his starting line-up fresh. He is likely to change it up again this Sunday with a likely line-up of:

Adán; Cejudo, Bruno, Jordi, Varela; Xavi Torres, N’Diaye, Ceballos, Portillo; Rubén Castro and Molina. 

The team from Madrid, Alcorcón, haven’t got much to play for. They have secured their place in La Segunda for next season and could still technically make the playoffs, but it is unlikely. Betis will be playing in front of a raucous crowd who will be in fiesta mode.

Today could be the day Betis have been wanting for more than a year. If so, they will put the whole debacle of mis-management and the bear pit of La Segunda behind them.

Kick off is 7pm GMT (8pm in Spain). If you’re that way Twitter inclined, be sure to use the hashtag #yosoyverdiblanco – an initiative started by the club to get everyone in party mood. Also, look out for the huge surprise banner that Betisweb have prepared, which will be in similar vein to the Rubén Castro Jugador de Leyenda banner just above.

Viva el Betis!