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A SEASON OF UPS AND DOWNS FOR REAL BETIS
- Updated: 18 February, 2012
It has never been easy following Real Betis Balompié, and this season has proved no exception. A turbulent ride to say the least and one which is likely to get bumpier as the season nears it’s conlusion.
The campaign began in breath-taking fashion for Pepe Mel’s newly-promoted side as they won four of their opening five games to top the la liga table. Betis were peering down on the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla as the big boys were scrapping around for points. Not even the most fanatical of fanatic Béticos could have dreamt this start up – highlights of this little run include late winners in their first two games against Granada and Mallorca, and a 2-3 away win at Athletic Club de Bilbao.
Then came the fall from grace. Not just a little stumble, Betis were in fully fledged freefall. The pressures of an unexpected, top-topping start seemed to stun the players, leading to a truly miserable run of results. The team managed one point from the next 10 games, scoring just once during eight of those dismal displays.
Lowlights of the run include the spectacular strike from Iñigo Martínez, who scored from his own half for the second time in a month to snatch an injury-time winner for Real Sociedad at the Benito Villamarin. Betis seem to like dropping points in the final quarter of games, cue further losses against Rayo, Espanyol and Osasuna.
Since this epically bad run the form of Betis has been indifferent; four wins, three losses and a draw. They have also unceremoniously exited la copa del rey at the hands of second-tier Córdoba.
It has been a case of all or nothing for Betis this season; win or lose. From 22 games Betis have won eight, lost 12 and drawn two. This is the second least number of draws behind Real Madrid who have drawn only once. This gives a glimpse of the Betis psyche; the team thrives on confidence and belief but struggle when things aren’t going their way.
If Betis could have drawn a few of the games they ended up losing, then they may have been banging on the door of the Champions League instead of looking over their shoulder nervously, just three points above the drop zone. Despite this lowly position however, the gap to fourth place Levante is only six points, with the Valencian side having won just two of their last 13 matches. It is unbelievably tight in the middle of the league at the moment and it is almost impossible to predict what will happen next.
The lack of converting losses to draws is the reason why Betis are where they are. They need to overcome the mental block and start picking up the odd point away from home, where they have encountered two thirds of their losses, so they can climb up the league.
It is clear that Betis have a talented and fairly deep squad, barring a few problem positions, but the right formation and balance has not been found yet by Pepe Mel.
The last match against Athletic Club gave us a glimpse of what can be when they are on song. It was probably the most complete performance this season by Mel’s side – the 4-3-3 formation worked and so did the players. The team were confident and coherent and there was a balance right throughout the team that has rarely been seen this year.
Nevertheless, there are still some question marks hanging over some players and positions e.g. the inconsistent Jefferson Montero, Castro and lack of true wing men.
The priority for Betis is to first cement their place in La Liga before they can even consider any other challenge. However, this may prove difficult as there is little to separate many teams in and around Betis and the season is fast approaching the business end.
Either way, one thing we have learnt from Betis this season – they are bound to offer a few more ups and downs between now and the campaign’s finale in May.Follow @icentrocampista