The evolution experienced by Betis since the beginning of the season, both at a collective level and in the understanding of the style of play established by Quique Setién on the part of the players, has placed the Verdiblanco team in a privileged position to face with the maximum expectations the last quarter of the championship.
The European positions are within shooting range and the Thirteen Barras team will fight them to the end. A success that finds explanation in several aspects. One of them, without a doubt, is the enormous offensive power of the Verdiblancos. The Betis de Setién, with 49 goals in the first 29 days, is the third most-accomplished in the history of the club at this stage of the championship.
To find a higher goal figure after 29 matches, we have to go back to the 1996-97 season, with Serra Ferrer on the bench and Alfonso Pérez Muñoz as an offensive reference. That course, in which Betis ended up qualifying for the Recopa, had 64 goals by this time. The season finished in fourth position, with 81 goals scored (in a League of 22 teams, with 42 games).
Before, only in the 1958-59 season, with Antonio Barros leading, he had scored so much. That team, which finished the championship in sixth position, added 54 goals in its first 29 games (the same as at the end of the year, in a League of 30 days). With this offensive arsenal and the long-awaited balance found in recent weeks, those of Setién dream big and look at Europe.
Having the ball for longer than the rival is no guarantee of success for Eibar. Rather the complete opposite. The azulgrana set suffers to take the games forward when it clearly exceeds in possession to the opposite that is opposite. The statistics do not deceive and so indicate it. The men of José Luis Mendilibar have not been able to add the three points in the five meetings this season in which they have had more than 60% control of the ball.
The defeat of the Ciutat de València was a new staging of how much it costs Eibar to win when the opponent gives the ball. The Armada squad left empty of Valencian lands in spite of being the possessor of the ball during 66% of the match. Something very similar to what happened four months ago in the duel of the first round in Ipurua, where the azulgrana team reached 70% of possession and even then was only able to draw.
The encounters against Atlético, Málaga and Deportivo are other obvious signs that Eibar does not enjoy when it has to take the initiative. Having the ball for 66% of the time did not prevent the colchonero team from taking the victory. The bottom scorer took a point from Ipurua despite the fact that the armored team signed the highest possession percentage since it was in Primera (71%) and in Riazor it went up to 70% to tie against an opponent that was with one less player during one hour of play.
It is clear that Eibar is not a team designed to attack in positional and have control of the ball during long phases. The game in static chokes. The direct football is one of the hallmarks of Mendilibar’s libretto, but when the rivals are locked back there is no other way to move the ball with patience and in those contexts you can see the seams of Eibar, as it becomes a team foreseeable, it is not capable of speeding the circulations and abuses the horizontal passes.
Mendilibar’s discourse on possession is practical. He does not want to have the ball in inconsequential areas. He wants it to get to the rival area. And the fewer touches you need to do it, the better. It is still symptomatic that in the two goals this season against Betis and Sevilla, 5-0 and 5-1 respectively, Eibar has not passed 45% of possession. There is little chance in that. Nor is there in the five meetings in which he has not won despite being the owner of the ball.
The president of UD Las Palmas, Miguel Ángel Ramírez, blows 49 candles today in a complicated sporting context for the club. Antepenultimate classified, to 6 points of salvation and, with 9 days to play, the next opponent who will visit the island is Real Madrid. “My intention is to continue at the bottom of the canyon and not leave the club while I believe I can help in the future,” says the highest shareholder.
Ramírez showed his usual optimism, he does not want to draw guidelines that do not go through the highest category. Of course, he admits that “depending on what happens, knowing that we can keep up or down, we will make decisions, but at this moment, I do not contemplate the descent.” However, he emphasizes that “the difference of this UD with that of previous years is that before, when you went down, there was always talk of the danger of the disappearance of the club.
Anger of the hobby
“The players are the first to be convinced that they are going to do it, with that breath they work every day.” This was so forceful in the face of criticism focused on footballers. He is a regular at training and defends that “within the reality, that we would like it to be better, they know that by desire and commitment it will not be lacking”.
The image offered by the Estadio de Gran Canaria is, for many, improvable. It is one of the issues that have generated most controversy in the hobby and many of them blame it on the high price of tickets and passes. The president, in this sense, treats the problem as something global that does not affect only his team and states that “in the UD we have lowered the prices considerably, the subscriber has been allowed to come with guests … And it is not possible to raise the level of attendees. Against Barca, without going any further, we put some prices and did not achieve. “