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This Saturday at 9.00pm CEST, FC Barcelona will be back at Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys for a game against a side that has no fewer than six players who were previously at Barça. 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 vertical stripes rather than horizontal 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 in 2022.
HEAD TO HEAD
Barça have only lost twice to Betis in their last 23 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 in 2021, when Juanmi netted the only goal of the game after 79 minutes.
Last season Barça beat Betis both home and away, and also knocked them out of the Spanish Super Cup following a penalty shootout.
Last five meetings
29/04/23 (LIGA) Barça 4 (Christensen, Lewandowski, Raphinha, OG) Betis 0
01/02/23 (LIGA) Betis 1 Barça 2 (Raphinha, Lewandowski)
12/01/23 (SUPER CUP) Betis 2 Barça 2 (Lewandowski, Fati) (Barça won on pens)
07/05/22 (LIGA) Betis 1 Barça 2 (Fati, Alba)
04/12/21 Barça 0 Betis 1
Betis qualified for the Europa League last season, and will be sharing a group with Rangers, Sparts Prague and Aris Limassol of Cyprus.
Their 2023/24 Liga programme got off to a fine start with a 2-1 win away to Villarreal, but they followed that with a draw against Atlético Madrid and a loss to Athletic Club. Following victory over Rayo Vallecano, they spent the international break in seventh place.
MOST CAPPED INTERNATIONALS
Andrés Guardado (Mexico, 179), Claudio Bravo (Chile, 145), William Carvalho (Portugal, 80), Isco (Spain, 38), Germán Pezzella (Argentina, 38), Youssouf Sabaly (Senegal, 31), Nabil Fekir (France, 25), Guido Rodríguez (Argentina, 29), Diego Lainez (Mexico, 14), Marc Bartra (Spain, 14), Sergio Canales (Spain, 10), Ez Abde (Morocco, 7), Héctor Bellerín (Spain, 4)
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.
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.
Also in defence, Héctor Bellerín (pictured above) spent his youth at Barça, but made his name across several seasons at Arsenal in 2011 before going on loan to Betis. He returned to Barça in 2022/23 and got to feature in the first team before being sold to Sporting Lisbon and eventually ending up back at Betis.
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.
Two more ex-blaugrana players landed at Betis this summer. Moroccan winger Ez Abde started this season in the Barça squad but was sold to the green-and-whites just before the transfer deadline, and his compatriot Chadi Riad was also a Barça player until very recently, but after making his debut against Osasuna he ended up being loaned to Betis for the remainder of the campaign.
Two further players with a Barça past are midfielders Rodri, who spent one year of his development as a resident of La Masia, and Sergi Altimira, who was there for seven years.
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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