Following a disappointing 2018-19 campaign in La Liga, Real Betis has taken steps to bounce back and will be a team soccer fans should keep a close eye on this season.
Under the leadership of manager Quique Setién, Real Betis managed to put together an impressive 2017-18 campaign that saw the team finish 6th in the La Liga standings. The club even managed to qualify for the Europa League group stage.
Despite an early exit from the tournament, Betis still had an all-around solid year. However, the following season proved to be much more difficult for Setién and his players. During the offseason, the team lost several key players to transfers and expired loans.
The club would go on to make significant moves in an attempt to reinforce the roster, spending big money to bring in Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho, Brazilian defender Sidnei and Mexican wunderkind Diego Lainez. Betis even managed to bring in Argentine midfielder Giovani Lo Celso on loan from PSG.
Despite the moves, Real Betis finished its 2018-19 campaign in 10th place in La Liga with a record of 14 wins, eight draws and 16 defeats. The team had issues with consistency on defense and was often criticized for playing too conservatively and sitting back.
The season proved to be a backward step for Betis, who also failed to qualify for the Europa League. Then in May, Quique Setién announced he would be leaving his position as manager of the club, a move that came as a bit of a surprise to many. The team later announced that former Spanish winger Rubi would be taking over as manager.
With a new coach at the helm and several key players including leading goalscorer Lo Celso, Sergio León, Junior Firpo and Pau Lopez leaving the club during the offseason, there were concerns over how Betis would move forward.
Those concerns were quickly dealt with following the stellar transfer window Betis had during the offseason. In addition to signing two proven forwards, Juanmi and Borja Iglesias, the club also managed to land French international star Nabil Fekir from Lyon. It was a huge signing for Betis, considering how many other top-flight teams wanted to pick up the Ligue 1 standout.
The move also reflects a competitive mindset for the team moving forward. While many clubs would bunker down and rebuild after losing a manager and key players, Betis has decided to continue spending big in the hopes of regaining the momentum it had in 2017-18.
Along with signing new stars, the team also entered an exclusive front-of-shirt sponsorship agreement with easyMarkets, a technology-based CFD broker. The partnership is for the next three seasons and couldn’t have come at a better time. With Fekir having joined the club and young talent like Lainez on the roster, Betis will have significantly more worldwide attention than in previous seasons.
This bodes well for easyMarkets, who are trying to gain exposure in the world soccer market. At the same time, a partnership like this also gives the impression that the team is doing well financially and will continue to push for the top spot in La Liga. So it’s a win for both parties.
While Betis picked up some big names in the offseason, it also retained several players who will play an important role this season. Midfielders Guardado, Carvalho, Joaquín and Sergio Canales, make up one of the most reliable midfielder corps in La Liga.
With potent scorers like Iglesias and Fekir having joined the club, Betis’ midfielders will have much less of a goal-scoring workload this year. This means the midfielders will be able to provide greater support to the defense, which was a weakness for the team last season.
Betis struggled to keep the ball out of their own net last season and often lost games by a single goal. With a more organized midfield and better goal-scorers, the club should be able to pick up more points than in its last campaign.
While traditional La Liga powerhouses Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid will be the ones dominating the headlines, soccer fans shouldn’t overlook Real Betis this year.
With Fekir, they have a new star player, a rising star in Lainez and a proven group of experienced midfielders and defenders. The team is poised to bounce back from last season and will have its eyes set on qualifying for the Europa League.
Freelance journalist who tweets too much about sports and music. University of Maryland Alum.