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Sevilla 3 – 5 Betis – One of the Greatest Seville Derbies

This was a game where football was the true winner…and Betis technically.

Excuse the facetiousness but surely a certain amount is allowed after coming out on top of a game like that? It had pretty much everything you would want for in a game of football. Completely none stop action from  quite literally the 1st minute to the last of the 95 minutes played, and everything else in between. Eight goals between the teams, both hit the frame of the goal, the crowd were on fire and there was a feistiness between the players on the field with plenty of yellow cards, as you would expect from a gran derbi.

The only people that may have not enjoyed the spectacle quite as much, apart from nerve-wrangled Betis fans watching behind closed fingers during the last 15 minutes, were goalkeeping connoisseurs. Neither Antonio Adán or Sergio Rico made a single save between them for the whole game. Unbelievable.

In truth, it was a pure and exhilarating joy to behold and one of the best games I have seen in La Liga. Happy Day of the Kings indeed.

A Full Recap of a Stunning Derbi Sevillano

The tone for the entire match was set from the first few seconds. Just 21 seconds after Sevilla had kicked off, they were behind. After being played back to the defensc, the tireless Sergio León managed to block a clearance with Betis winning the high ball midway into the Sevilla half. A couple of passes and a jink later, Fabián finds himself 25 yards out with a bit of space and curls a delightfully accurate and powerful left footed shot into the bottom left of the goal beyond a despairing Sergio Rico. 21 seconds on the clock and 0-1. It was the second fastest goal in the derby of all time.

Dream start for Betis but we all know the defence can be shaky and it would be important to try and weather the impending Sevilla storm.  And it was a storm. After probably a matter of time, Sevilla were level on 12 minutes after Ben Yedder flicked in a dangerous freekick from Escudero. 1-1.

Nevertheless Betis were not dettered and on the stroke of the 21st minute were back in front. This time Joaquin supplying a superb freekick delivery which Zou Feddal attacked and headed home in voracious fashion. 1-2.

Sevilla were again on the attack and looked likely to score at any point. They did make another breakthrough in the 39th minute when Kjaer headed over Adán. It came from another freekick stupidly given away by Boudebouz who had a very mixed half at best. After some scruffy defending the ball was flicked into the mixer and Kjaer showed more fight to get there first. 2-2. If viewers thought that half was exhausting, we still had the second half yet.

More of the same in the second half

There wasn’t long to wait before we had our first major action. On 49 minutes Betis leftback Rizi Durmisi whipped in a cross which made it’s way across the penalty area to a waiting Andres Guardado on the far side of the D. He struck a fantastic shot first time which pinged off the post and back onto the chest of goalkeeper Rico and then to a waiting Fabián  who struck the post again from the rebound, only to be flagged offside.

From 62 minutes we were to have the craziest 5 minutes of the match, which is saying something. After a fantastic passing move from Betis, a phenomenom of Quique Setien’s style which had started to become more prominent in the second half, Rizi Durmisi popped up at the back post from a Boudebouz cross to poke home. Brilliant goal. 2-3.

On 64 minutes Betis were at it again. Ex-Barcelona winger Cristian Tello came on in the 59th minute and made a real difference with his pace and ability to dribble and all came into play on this goal. After cutting in from the left and going past a couple of defenders he provided the perfect through ball to Sergio León who had made a superb run. He prodded it first time back across the oncoming keeper and it seemed it like an eternity as the ball rolled towards wondering whether it would make its way in. It clipped the inside of the post and hit the back of the net. Strangely enough, Feddal found a sombrero from somewhere as he was celebrating. 2-4.

Nothing is ever simple for Betis and on 66 minutes Sevilla had pulled one back. A cross from Nolito was turned in by Correa, once again showing the weakness of the Betis defence when defending crosses. They next 30 minutes made for quite painful viewing as Sevilla seemed to have corner after corner. They actually finished the game with 12 corners to Betis’ 0.

To be fair to the Betis defence they did well to play the game out with Feddal and Javi Garcia in particular making several good clearances.

It came to the 94th minute and Sevilla had a dangerous freekick on the right hand side, similar to where they had scored two previously, and everyone, including the goalkeeper was piled forward. For once it was a poor delivery and didn’t venture past the first man. Tello won the ball from two Sevilla defenders on the half way line as Sergio Rico was sprinting back. Tello used his severe pace to take it forward and all the way to the box where he powerfully finished at the near post. 3-5 and the final whistle was blown. A manita five star showing from Real Betis, even without club legend Ruben Castro who remained on the bench, and whilst ripping apart Sevilla’s 14 month unbeaten home run.

In my preview article before the game, I said that everything pointed to a Sevilla win, and it did, but this game encapsulates just why Betis are an addictive team to support. Sometimes it can be a struggle when you’re losing to Espanyol and getting panned off Eibar, but there’s something about the club, the fans and the team, who can pull out a stunning performance like this one. The manquepierda philosophy of Betis is infectious. I wouldn’t like to analyse this game at all, but if you’re looking for pure footballing entertainment, you’d do very well to beat this one.

Fabián Ruiz – Star of the Show

If you’ve not heard or seen Fabián play before, he is a real talent who will probably go on to follow in the footsteps of Dani Ceballos. Fabián has been at Betis since the age of 8 after growing up on the outskirts of the city. He is Betis through and through. There is nothing better for a local Betis lad than scoring an away goal in the Seville Derby and going off to kiss the badge in front of the manically jubilant beticos celebrating in that upper segment of the Sánchez Pizjuán. The main image above sums it all up.

For me he was man of the match. A constant thorn in the side and covered a lot of ground, which explains the cramp he picked up in the 75th minute before being subbed. After the game Fabián said: “It is the happiest moment of his life”.

And that seems a fitting way to end this post.

Viva el Betis! 

A Club Legend Returns Just in Time for the Seville Derby

It’ll be Los Reyes Magos time on Saturday when Real Betis make the 3km trip across town to the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán to take on the eternal rivals. The Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day, is a day when Spanish children exchange their Christmas gifts, and los verdiblancos fans will be hoping for the greatest gift of all…no, not frankincense, myrrh or gold, but a big fat three points.

I’m not keen to admit but all stats point to a Sevilla win. They’re unbeaten at home this season and have conceded just three in eight games whereas Betis have just two away wins and have conceded an average of two goals a game. Sevilla have also won the last five derbies in all competitions.

The form guide also makes for painful viewing if you’re of the green and white persuasion. If the league was based on the last six games, we’d be floundering in the relegation zone alongside Deportivo and Leganes. Sevilla would be 7th, which is a slip from their current 5th, mainly due to their last three games where there are winless.

Before you race down to the bookies to place a large bet on a Sevilla win, perhaps as a kind of insurance policy for Betis fans, Betis have a joker to play up their sleeve, and that joker is called Rubén Castro Martín.

Ruben Castro returns to Betis

Ruben castro playing in china

Ruben Castro still scoring in China

Yes, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer is back from a loan spell in China. Since arriving back in the city on Sunday, RC24 was straight back training with the first team. Despite being a club legend, his inclusion is more than needed with Sergio Leon the only proper recognised striker in the team after the long-term knee injury that Tonny Sanabria picked up in December.

Also sneaking back into the fold is Chilean midfielder Felipe Gutierrez who has been on-loan at SC Internacional in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

On the other side of town there is also a new face to look out for – this one on the sidelines after the shameless sacking of Eduardo Berizzo.

Berizzo, who was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, was disgracefully sacked three days before Christmas. He had successful surgery in November and returned to work in December only to be relieved of his duties a week later “on account of the team’s poor results,” despite the team being 5th in the table and in the last 16 of the Champions League. A cold, shameful act if you ask me.

In Berizzo’s place they have appointed former AC Milan head coach Vincenzo Montella who was sacked by the rossoneri at the end of November and will now face a baptism of fire for his first league game in charge. He will have home advantage of course but here’s hoping that wedge of beticos in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán will have something to cheer about.

The match kicks off at 19:45 GMT/20:45 CET and should definitely not be missed. 

Vamos Betis!

Espanyol vs Betis Preview – Monday evening trip to Catalonia

Next up in the sight-lines of the Betis steamroller are Espanyol, a team who haven’t set many pulses racing this season. Two players who have been particularly influential in the handing out of said steamrollering are Tonny Sanabria and Sergio Leon.

Summer signing Sergio Leon has slipped back in at Betis absolutely seamlessly, having learned his trade at the club as a youngster before being offloaded to Reus in 2011. For the last six years Leon has journeyed around several clubs without ever finding a permanent role, but his first few months back at the Benito Villamarin couldn’t have been much better and the 28 year old really does seem at home.

Aside from the early Betis history, Leon’s story has some very similar hallmarks to another journeyman striker who came to find a home a Betis in his last twenties and someone I have mentioned a few times on BlogBetis. Yes, you guessed it, one Ruben Castro. After 10 years of going from club to club, Castro came to Betis, settled down and found the back of the net 135 times to become Betis’ all-time top goalscorer. Ever.

Sergio Leon grabbed both of the goals in midweek Copa del Rey win against Cadiz where los verdiblancos ran out 2-1 winners., taking his tally to 6 for the campaign. His first was a superb, instinctive finish from the edge of the area, rocketing into the top right corner, very Ruben Castro-esque. Leon’s second was a powerful finish from 8 yards out sending the keeper the wrong way.

Leon’s partner in crime this season has been Tonny Sanabria. The 21 year old Paraguayan has already scored as many goals this year as he did the last one and he’s really starting to fulfill his potential. He always had this in him, but I think playing alongside Leon, and even Joaquin, has undoubtedly had a positive influence.

Betis the neutrals’ favourite this season

In more general terms, Betis have been great value this season for the neutrals; going forward with so much purpose that defending has been somewhat of an after-thought, at best.

Quique Setien’s Betis side have scored 15 goals in the last 5 games, but also conceded 11. However, Espanyol will prove difficult to break down at the RCDE Stadium, formally known as Estadi Cornella-El Prat, where Quique Sanchez Flores’ men have conceded 3 in 4 games. Espanyol aren’t exactly free-scoring though, with 5 in their last 5 games and 4 of those coming against Deportivo.

On to the team news and we should have nearly a full complement to choose from. Cristian Tello is out and so is central defender Zou Feddal who’s picked up a knee knock. Joel Campbell is in the squad but also a doubt after missing training this week. In better news, Javi Garcia has recovered from his injury and is back in the squad, giving Setien a few more options in the centre of midfield.

Espanyol have a few late drop outs in the way of Didac, Sergio Sanchez and former Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero. In Leo Baptistao, there’s a fairly familiar face for beticos, with the midfielder making a handful of appearances back in 2014.

Betis squad: Adán, Dani Giménez, Barragán, Rafa Navarro, Mandi, Jordi Amat, Tosca, Javi García, Guardado, Fabián, Camarasa, Narváez, Nahuel, Joaquín, Boudebouz, Campbell, Sanabria and Sergio León.

Espanyol squad: Pau López, Aarón, Víctor Sánchez, Naldo, Gerard Moreno, Sergio García, Jurado, Leo Baptistao, Diego López, Javi López, Hernán Pérez, Javi Fuego, Piatti, Diop, Hermoso, Darder and Álex Domíguez.

Kick off is 8pm GMT and is live on Sky Sports for you UK-based people.

Viva el Betis!

Betis vs Valencia preview – two teams reinvented

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!

A year in the making: the Benito Villamarin is ready for action!

Today is a special day. Not only do Betis play at home for the first time this season, but they play at a brand-spanking, green-and-white gleaming new stadium. It’s been a year in the making after playing the whole of last season without Gol Sur, the south stand, but tonight against Celta Vigo, the doors will be open for the first time and the place will be rocking.

Cleverly, the club have been filming every moment of the revamp and the results are incredible. The official video below shows a time-lapse from start to finish condensed down into two minutes. It’s definitely worth a watch if you want to psyche yourself up before the game tonight. The Benito Villamarin is now the Bonito Villamarin.

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