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This Saturday at 9.00pm CEST, FC Barcelona face a tricky away trip to the side in fifth who have already beaten the Catalans once this season. Time to take a closer look at the green and white half of Seville.
WHERE ARE THEY FROM?
Betis (together with Sevilla) are one of two Liga teams from the fourth biggest city in Spain, Seville, where they share one the most famous rivalries in world football. The magnificent city is the capital of the most southernmost province on the European mainland, Andalusia. It is home to the world famous Alcázar palace, and very much typifies the ‘real’ Spain of flamenco, bullfighting and very hot temperatures.
Founded in 1907, ‘Betis’ was the name of the former Roman province, while ‘Balompié’ is a literal translation of the English term ‘football’. As Andalusian workers migrated around Spain looking for work in the 20th century, they took their love for Betis with them, and the club’s green and white emblems are still commonplace in neighbourhoods all around the country today.
Those colours are historically connected to Celtic, after striped fabric was brought back by a player who had been studying in Scotland – but Betis decided upon stripes rather than hoops.
Betis have spent most of their time in the first division, and when they have been relegated (most recently in 2014) they have usually been quick to bounce back up. They did win La Liga once, way back in 1935 under Irishman Patrick O’Connell, who also coached Barça. Although they often finish in the top half of the table, they’ve only made it into the Champions League once. They’ve also won the cup three times, in 1977, 2005 and once again this very season.
The recently expanded 60,720 capacity Estadio Benito Villamarín is now the fourth biggest stadium in Spain. It was originally opened in 1929 as the Estadio Heliópolis (named after the neighbourhood) but now bears the name of the man who was club president from 1955 to 1965.
HEAD TO HEAD
Barça have only lost twice to Betis once in their last 19 meetings, and surprisingly, both of those were at Camp Nou.
There was the shock 4-3 win for the Andalusians at Camp Nou in 2018, with Quique Setién managing the visitors against a team he would later coach himself, and also the 1-0 defeat at the same stadium earlier this season, when Juanmi netted the only goal of the game after 79 minutes.
In contrast, Barça have no lost away to Betis since a 3-1 defeat in the Copa del Rey in 2011 (which the Catalans turned around with a 5-0 win at Camp Nou), and have not lost a league game at the Benito Villamarin since a 3-2 loss in 2008.
Last five meetings (all in La Liga)
04/12/21 Barça 0 Betis 1
07/02/21 Betis 2 Barça 3 (Messi, OG, Trincao)
07/11/20 Barça 5 (Dembélé, Griezmann, Messi 2, Pedri) Betis 2
09/02/20 Betis 2 Barça 3 (De Jong, Busquets, Lenglet)
25/08/19 Barça 5 (Griezmann 2, Perez, Alba, Vidal) Betis 2
After a slow start, Betis climbed to third in the table after their win at Camp Nou and stayed there for a long time before dropping to their current position of fifth. They are still eying a Champions League spot, with just three points separating them from fourth placed Atlético Madrid, but to do that they are going to have to avoid upsets like their last home game, which they lost 1-0 to Elche.
Betis have very much been distracted by their Copa del Rey run. After seeing off local rivals Sevilla, they then knocked out Real Sociedad and Rayo Vallecano to earn a place in the final, where they beat Valencia on penalties to claim the trophy for the third time.
They’ve also been busy with their Europa League campaign. After nudging their way past Celtic to finish second in their group, they then beat Zenit St Petersburg before, like Barça, going out to Eintracht Frankfurt.
MOST CAPPED INTERNATIONALS
Andrés Guardado (Mexico, 171), Claudio Bravo (Chile, 139), William Carvalho (Portugal, 69), Joaquín (Spain, 51), Germán Pezzella (Argentina, 26), Nabil Fekir (France, 25), Youssouf Sabaly (Senegal, 21), Guido Rodríguez (Argentina, 20), Diego Lainez (Mexico, 14), Marc Bartra (Spain, 14), Sergio Canales (Spain, 10), Héctor Bellerín (Spain, 4)
Right back Martín Montoya is a La Masia graduate who played 45 games for Barça and whose most recent club was Brighton & Hove Albion before joining Betis at the start of this season, where he also played on loan from Barça in 2016.
Centre back Marc Bartra was another product of la Masia who spent six years in the first team without ever quite becoming a regular. He left for Borussia Dortmund in 2016 and joined Betis in 2018.
Centre back Víctor Ruiz was another Barça youth player, although he spent most of his development years at neighbouring RCD Espanyol. His other clubs have included Valencia, Villarreal and, last season, Beşiktaş.
Striker Cristian Tello was at Barça from 2010 to 2014, usually only playing when one of the famous 'trident' was unavailable. Following loan spells at Porto and Fiorentina, he joined Betis in 2017.
Left back Álex Moreno was at La Masia in the youth, but it was at Mallorca and then Rayo Vallecano where he made his professional breakthrough. He’s been at Betis since 2019.
Héctor Bellerín spent his youth at Barça, but left for Arsenal in 2011, for whom he’s played 183 games but is spending this season at Betis on a one-year loan deal.
Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo won two leagues and a Champions League at Barça before leaving for Manchester City in 2016. He joined Betis in 2020.
Left-back Juan Miranda (pictured below) started his youth career at Betis before moving to La Masia, eventually playing 30 games for Barça B, and even getting to play for the first team in the Champions League. He came to Betis on loan from Schalke 04 but has now been signed up permanently by the Andalusians.
TOP SCORERS 2021/22
Juanmi (14), Borja Iglesias (9), Willian José (7), Nabil Fekir (6)
MOST ASSISTS 2021/22
Nabil Fekir (7), Sergio Canales (5) Willian José (4)
Chilean Manuel Pelligrini was a one-club man as a footballer (Universidad de Chile), but is a much-travelled man as manager. He became known to European audience thanks to five wonderful seasons at Villarreal, and his posts after that have included Real Madrid and Manchester City, where he became the first non-European coach to win the Premier League. After being dismissed by West Ham two seasons ago, he replaced caretaker manager Alexis Trujillo at Betis.
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