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This Sunday at 9.00 pm CET, Barça will be looking to continue their fabulous run of form both in the league and the cup as they visit the home of Real Betis. Let’s 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 heated 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’. In opposition to Sevilla FC, a highly exclusive middle class institution, Betis was open to members of all statuses and origin. As poor Andalusians 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 working class 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 will typically finish in the top half of the table, they’ve only made it into the Champions League once. They’ve also won the cup twice, in 1977 and 2005.
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 to Betis once in their last 17 meetings, a shock 4-3 win for the Andalusians at Camp Nou in 2018. The last two visits to the Villamarín have been big wins for Barça, 4-1 last season and 5-0 the year before that.
Last five meetings (all in La Liga)
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
17/03/19 Betis 1 Barça 4 (Messi 3, Suárez)
11/11/18 Barça 3 (Messi 2, Vidal) Betis 4
A run of eight defeats in ten games left Betis struggling by December, but there’s been a remarkable improvement since then. Just two losses in ten games have sent the Andalusians flying up to seventh, and they are undefeated in 2021. They did bow out of the Copa del Rey on Thursday, beaten on penalties by Athletic Club.
Last five games
Feb 4 (Copa): Betis 1 Athletic Club 1 (Athletic won on pens)
Feb 1 (Liga): Betis 1 Osasuna 0
Jan 26 (Copa): Betis 3 Real Sociedad 1
Jan 23 (Liga): Real Sociedad 2 Betis 2
Jan 20 (Liga): Betis 1 Celta 0
MOST CAPPED INTERNATIONALS
Andrés Guardado (Mexico, 164), Claudio Bravo (Chile, 125), William Carvalho (Portugal, 64), Joaquín (Spain, 51), Aïssa Mandi (Algeria, 59), Nabil Fekir (France, 25), Marc Bartra (Spain, 14), Guido Rodríguez (Argentina, 10), Sergio Canales (Spain, 8)
Right back Martin 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 Victor 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 (pictured below) 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.
Brazilian right back Emerson arrived in Europe in 2019 as part of a joint deal between Barça and Betis. He’s currently playing for Betis on a loan basis.
Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo won two leagues and a Champions League at Barça before leaving for Manchester City in 2016. He joined Betis last summer.
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 went on loan to Schalke 04 last season and now he’s at Betis on a similar deal.
TOP SCORERS 2020/21 (all competitions)
Sergio Canales (4), Cristian Tello (4), Aïssa Mandi (3), Antonio Sanabria (3)
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 last season, he replaced caretaker manager Alexis Trujillo at Betis.
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