Connect with us

Opinions

The Rise of Real Betis

Ruben Castro

In the secluded setting of the Anoeta on Sunday evening, Real Sociedad and Real Betis played out a thrilling encounter as they both target Spain’s fourth Champions League qualification spot. 3-3 it finished after Betis had raced into a 2-0 lead before being pegged back to 3-2 down, which was cancelled out by Dorlan Pabon’s second goal of the game just after the hour mark. Betis stayed within a point of their Basque opponents and moved to within 3 of Malaga who currently occupy the coveted fourth spot.

It was a typical Betis performance founded on a willingness to defend on the edge of their own penalty area and strike venomously on the counter-attack, utilising the pace of Pabon and Jorge Molina, and the strong link-up play of Joel Campbell, the striker on loan from Arsenal. Sociedad registered 56% of possession in the topsy-turvy game and got their reward from a clinical second half, but the performance was enough from Pepe Mel’s side to suggest they could make a viable claim for European football in the latter stage of this season.

It will be the latest achievement in the dramatic recent resurgence of a club that suffered relegation to the Segunda in 2009 and were faced with the financial uncertainty of majority shareholder Ruiz De Lopera being charged with fraud. After attempting to sell off his shares for a reduced price, the courts froze his company, Lopera shareholdings, before a takeover could be completed and he was subsequently voted off the board in favour of Luis Oliver, the businessman who tried to purchase the club off Lopera.

Pepe Mel

Manager Pepe Mel played over 100 games for Real Betis [Photo: marca.com]

Gone are the days of mismanagement at board level at the expense of a club that constantly scraped the bottom of La Liga. Eventual relegation sparked mass protests to remove Lopera from a 15 year reign that had turned stale and 65,000 fans got their wish. Though they had to slide down from the top division, the green side of Andalusia promised a brighter future. Antonio Tapia was placed in charge for their first year in the Segunda but ultimately paid with his job after failing to direct Betis back to the Primera in his first year. They then turned to Mel, the ex-striker who had been sacked in the February of 2010 by Rayo Vallecano, and he has seemed to finally give stability to a club that had passed through 11 managers since the turn of the century.

The Verdiblancos stormed back to La Liga under Mel, finishing his first campaign in charge as champions of the second division, scoring a mammoth 85 goals in the process. 26 of them were scored by attacking midfielder Ruben Castro who went on to hit 16 as Betis achieved a respectable 13th placed finish in their first year back at the top in 2012. Now the upward curve is continuing and Castro, the 31 year old technician who can play right across the front, is at it again, he is the club’s top scorer with 12 goals.

Castro was missing on Sunday night as Mel moved to 4-4-2 with Campbell partnering Pabon up front. The manager has shifted between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 throughout the season and it is testament to the versatility of Castro, and the strength in depth available to the manager, that he can move fluidly between systems in attack which is based on a solid defence that has tallied 10 clean sheets so far this season.

A narrow 4-2-3-1 is the favoured system with Campbell and Juan Carlos offering directness and energy in the wide positions while Salva Sevilla, boasting an impressive pass completion record of 81% and a threat with incisive through-balls, shares the attacking midfield berth with Castro. Molina is the usual centre-forward and has 9 goals from that position, but it’s not set in stone, he started wide-right on Sunday as Mel chose the strength and energy of Pabon and Campbell in attack.

Ruben Castro

Ruben Castro has scored 12 goals so far this season in the La Liga, in 22 appearances. [Photo: sportinglife.com]

Though not the most potent of forward lines, Sunday’s front-line share just 7 goals this campaign, but their pace and intelligent movement is effective at producing room for others, it is not a coincidence that Betis’ top scorer is an attacking midfielder by trade and Sunday’s other scorer, Molina, got his goal running in from the right.

It is this vibrancy and fluidity in forward areas that gives Mel’s side, more comfortable drawing opponents into their half before striking on the break, its attacking thrust. One may notice the 20 goals hit away from home, the most in the league apart from Barcelona and Real Madrid, as being testament to their effectiveness on the break as opposed to when playing at home, where they have managed just 17 and the least out of the top 13, where opponents are likely to sit off and ask Betis to break them down.

The inter-changing front-line is given a platform by Spanish duo Canas and Benat, a combative pair of defensive midfielders who share 19 yellow cards for the season, indicating their fondness for a tackle. Canas is the anchor while Benat is left to spray passes around in the midfield, acting as Betis’ most creative player this year with 7 assists and an average of 2 chances created per-game.

There is still a lot of work for Mel to do though, only Valencia have conceded more than their 38 out of the top 7 and a creaky defence cost them all three points in Sociedad. While goals can also be a problem (they have a modest 37), last week’s 3-0 win over Malaga ended a run of four games without one. However, they sit 7th in La Liga, the highest they have been since the heady days of 2005 when they finished fourth.

A lot has passed through the green half of Seville in the last eight years including drastic upheaval of players and managers, financial controversy and a troublesome relegation. Yet with their 50 year old coach and a predominantly Spanish squad that contains just 8 non-natives, they look to have finally found the formula for success. That success this year, may be a Europa League place, a great achievement for Mel considering he took the reigns of a second division club just 2 and a half years ago. They also sit three places above bitter city rivals Sevilla, the good times seem to be back at the Villamarin.

Click here to read more articles on Spanish Football.

Head over to reddit.com and discuss the beautiful game with thousands of football enthusiasts at sub-reddit /r/football

Adam Gray

Adam Gray

I am a University graduate with a degree in English and a passion for football, covering the sport across Europe through Twitter and websites I write for, which has become a passionate hobby. I am a Crewe Alexandra fan, but mainly a football fan in general, boasting a strong knowledge of the game at all levels and an understanding of the need for debate.

I am not afraid of the exchange of views and broadening my knowledge by listening to others, so if you would like to comment or get in touch, my email is AdamGray15@hotmail.com.
Adam Gray

100 to Watch

Latest

Talent Radar12 months ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #6: Luka Jovic, Anthony Martial and Reiss Nelson feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Talent Radar1 year ago

Talent Radar: A-League’s 10 Young Players to Watch in 2018-19

Brian Bertie writes about the 10 young players to watch in this season’s A-League. Australia have made rapid strides forward...

Interviews1 year ago

Interview: Abneet Bharti on Indian footballers abroad

SU Sintrense defender, Abneet Bharti, the only Indian footballer to be plying his trade in Europe, talks to Kaustubh Pandey...

Talent Radar1 year ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #5: Matthias De Ligt & James Maddison feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Opinions1 year ago

Borja Fernandez: The underappreciated genius of ISL’s infancy

On the eve of the latest edition of the ISL, Arinjay Ghosh pays a tribute to Borja Fernandez, an ISL...

Opinions1 year ago

Tactical Philosophy: Domenico Tedesco

While this website has made its name focusing on the lesser known youth of this beautiful sport, and combined it...

Tactical Analysis1 year ago

Liverpool 3-2 PSG: Liverpool edge deserved victory against dysfunctional PSG

Siyang Xu writes a detailed tactical analysis about the UEFA Champions League match that ended Liverpool 3-2 PSG. Liverpool faced...

Talent Radar1 year ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #4: Matthias De Ligt & Ousmane Dembele feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Opinions1 year ago

UEFA Champions League: The 5 hipster sides to follow this season

Gear up with your organic ginger ale and mystical moustache oil, as Richard Pike briefs us about 5 off beat...

Talent Radar1 year ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #3: Maxi Gomez & Marco Asensio feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Opinions1 year ago

Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea: Tactical Approach & Key Players

Miles Olusina writes about Maurizio Sarri and the approach he is likely to take at Chelsea. Despite a successful 2016/17...

Talent Radar1 year ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #2: Joe Gomez & Bertrand Traore feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Talent Radar1 year ago

2018-19 U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Week #1: Joe Gomez & Kylian Mbappe feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Opinions1 year ago

Julen Lopetegui at Real Madrid: Tactical Approach & Key Players

Aamer Aslam writes about what we can expect from European Champions Real Madrid after the arrival of Julen Lopetegui On...

Opinions1 year ago

Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli: Tactical Approach & Key Players

Charles Onwuakpa writes about Carlo Ancelotti and the approach he is likely to take on at Napoli. After three intense...

Scout Report1 year ago

Scout Report: Gonçalo Paciência | Eintracht’s exquisite forward

Jose Miguel Saraiva writes a detailed scout report about Eintracht Frankfurt’s striker, Gonçalo Paciência. For those who have been attentively observing...

Talent Radar1 year ago

Talent Radar: Liga MX’s 10 Young Players to Watch in 2018-19

Thomas Harrison writes about the 10 players to watch out for in the Liga MX for this coming season. Mexico...

Talent Radar1 year ago

20 Key Young Players to Watch from 20 La Liga Teams

Tom Canton takes a look at they key young players to watch from each of the 20 La Liga teams....

Scout Report1 year ago

Scout Report: Alphonso Davies | Speedy Canadian winger

Griffin O’Neill writes a detailed scout report about Alphonso Davies, the Vancouver Whitecaps winger. While many still believe that the...

Scout Report1 year ago

Scout Report: Diogo Gonçalves | Benfica’s tricky winger

Jose Miguel Saraiva writes a detailed scout report about Benfica’s tricky winger, Diogo Goncalves Having been deprived of their biggest...

Talent Radar Award History

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

More on Outside of the Boot

Previous Next
Close
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this