Hola! I hope you are ready for one last update from Betis, where I set out to investigate if this Real Betis squad is capable of winning La Liga. After a less than stellar start things really started motoring in the last update. Top of the table and still in two cups, what’s not to enjoy?
We pick up with 12 games to go and a 4 point lead.
Off we go to Bilbao for a tricky looking fixture, one that looks even worse when we go 1-0 down on 7 minutes. However a minute later we’re level and from there we seize the advantage. A comfortable win.
That’s followed up by the visit of Deportivo. Moulin and his strong heading stats make him a constant set piece threat and he gets us off and running. I’m able to rotate a few towards the end ahead of the Vizenca return game and the rarely seen Kowalczyk gets on the scoresheet amid a load of scrabble jokes.
Vicenza are one of the few teams to beat us so we know we’ve got a job on to overturn a 2-1 deficit. Thankfully Alfonso gets the first goal after a tense opening half hour and Martins bends in a free kick moments later. Semi finals here we come!
It’ll be Nice in the semis. Before that we don’t have a game at the weekend which is either very nice of the Spanish FA or there’s another reason. Either way we’re well rested for the visit to Gijon and the deadly duo both net early on before Moulin adds a third. What a lad.
The duo are back at it in France and a stubborn Nice side are eventually defeated. That gives us every chance of being in the final, which is lovely. Or nice.
Speaking of finals, Real Madrid are our opponents in the Copa del Rey semi final. It’s played over two legs but the first leg at home sees us dominate from start to finish. The clean sheet is as enjoyable as the win. Real are falling behind in all competitions.
Barcelona however, are not. We take the lead in the Nou Camp but they come roaring back to win. Our first league defeat in a long time. That cuts the gap to one point. That’s all it takes though…
Two days later and we take out our anger on Zaragoza. Oli nets a hat-trick and I’m able to rest a few early ahead of the Nice game. We’ve lost Fernando for the season so Cuellar can expect more game time.
Nice really won’t just lie down. Eventually they are knocked down and stay down but it was a bit of a battle. In good news, Stuttgart beat Chelsea in the other semi final.
Another International break follows but that means we are well rested for the trip to Madrid in the 2nd leg. Over 100,000 people are there to witness us book a place in the final. Espanyol knock out Barcelona in a derby clash and that will probably only help.
Racing Santander offer very little resistance to our charge. Future Spain goalkeeper Canizares helps out with an OG and we’re a step closer to the title. Barca keep winning though.
Celta Vigo are next and they go the same way as so many before them. We are scarily good.
Oddly, and I’ve noticed this bug before, the 2nd leg of the Lana del Rey always seems to be on the fixture list twice. Sumemrtime madness. The final is already on the fixture list so I have no idea what would happen if we lost this time…
Fortunately I don’t need to find out. Devestating attacking display.
Off to Tenerife, not for a holiday, and we’re below our recent high standards. Tenerife get a penalty after a handball from a corner (never a pen) and we’re grateful to Prats for saving it. Two minutes later Martins scores the decisive goal. When they make films about us in years to come, this game will be vital.
Stuttgart in the final and I’m delighted to be able to get Fernando back on the bench after he recovered quicker than I expected. Good man. We fall behind but Oli equalises and once Verlaat is sent off we should win. We can’t do it in 90 minutes but Fernando arrives from the bench to win it and save us the shootout. A trophy!
We’ve been on the piss for 2 days when I realise we’ve got a home game with Real Sociedad. We’re woeful. Two shots in the whole game and we lose our captain for a week. A bad loss but Barcelona also lose and we’ve got away with it.
By the time we shrug off Atletico Madrid we’re down to just two games to go
A one point lead to hold on to. A two horse race now.
We fall behind early on to Merida and you can almost hear the roar from Barcelona. Oli sorts that out though, he passes 40 goals for the season and we’re on the brink.
Oddly our last game of the season is on the Sunday whereas everyone else plays on the Saturday. Barcelona win but we know what we have to do.
Compostela are bottom of the table and relegated. Any nerves are soon dispelled as we go 3-0 up inside 31 minutes before being pegged back to 4-2 at half time. It’s a second half party and the job is done.
Having seemingly learned nothing from the Cup Winners Cup booze up we do the same thing before the Copa del Rey final. We are below our best but do manage to take the lead, only to be pegged back 7 minutes later. Penalties.
Curses. I can’t be upset though, what a season it has been. A quick look at the figures backs that up.
Moulin really split opinion on Twitter but he’s been excellent. I didn’t expect Oli to outscore Alfonso so comprehensively and Cuellar has been a bit of a relevation as a backup. Martins did a good job in central midfield. Jarni won’t sign a new contract and frankly I don’t care. I’ll never see these lads again. Finidi though, what a man. Ipswich should be disappointed.
There we have it then, it is possible for Betis to win La Liga with their incredible array of attacking talent. It’s amazing what happens when they don’t sell them all at the first sign of interest.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this short story, I’ll be back with the Academy on Sunday.