Betis Back to Grim Reality After Europe

Nobody would ever have predicted that Real Betis would beat Sevilla - least of all our Tim Stannard. They're still destined for relegation, mind. But who will join them?

Last Updated: 14/03/14 at 14:51 Post Comment

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It really is a waste of time making predictions in football. Might as well just pack up now. The result of the Seville derby in Thursday's Europa League clash should have been a foregone conclusion. Whilst hosts Sevilla are no great shakes this season - and over the past five years, sadly - Betis are a disaster of an outfit.

They are currently on their third manager of the campaign and rock bottom of La Primera with just 18 points and only four wins from 27 league games. Yet somehow Betis are on the brink of the quarter-finals of the Europa League after a 2-0 win over their city rivals in the Sánchez Pizjuán. The victory is a hard one to fathom. Either the Europa League is really, really bad, La Liga is really, really good or Sevilla put on one of the worst home performances of all time. It really is head-scratching stuff.

Despite the declaration that predictions are indeed quite pointless, Betis still look very likely to be heading to La Segunda, which is a great shame. They are currently eight points from safety and will probably need another 22 points from a possible 33 to stay up. It's an already tough challenge made even harder with two of those upcoming clashes being against Atlético Madrid and Barcelona. "When I came to the club it was in the emergency room," admitted Betis boss Gabriel Calderón, who took over in January, "and I came to help get it out of there."

The success for Betis in Europe probably isn't going to help in terms of their smattering of survival chances with at least three more midweek games on the horizon and in the legs of the footballers, including next Thursday's re-match against Seville, a testing clash that is wedged in between an away trip to Elche and a visit by a title-chasing Atlético.

There is a heck of a battle going on above Betis to avoid following the Andalusian side into La Segunda. Poor Rayo looked destined for this fate, but remarkable back-to-back wins against Valencia and Real Sociedad have put the Madrid side on the same number of points as Almería and Real Valladolid, two teams that could go down without too many people in Spain noticing, unlike the vacuums left by fine clubs such as Betis and Rayo.

A season-long policy of throwing bodies forward and leaving pretty much no-one of any quality at the back has begun to pay dividends for Rayo, whose manager praised the 'iron spirit' of his footballers during the victory in San Sebastian. Rayo will be back in their three-sided stadium on Saturday, going for a La Liga treble against Almería whilst Valladolid head to Sevilla, to play in front of a crowd that are going to be absolutely hopping mad about Thursday's European-themed disaster.

Just one point above that cluster of clubs lie Getafe, a team famous for not being that famous and not doing that much in front of not many people. However, this week the club almost made the headlines - about two-thirds of the way down Marc''s website - by firing Luís García and appointing former player Cosmin Contra. "The idea is to go out there and kill," growled the former defender. "The guys need to get used to this idea or they won't play," said Contra on a squad that is talented but completely without anything resembling motivation for 97% of games.

As well as all the fun stuff at the bottom of the table, there are also a few curious tussles going on the top. League leaders Real Madrid head to Málaga, in what should be a winnable game against former coach Bernd Schuster, who has now become a caricature of himself in terms of morose grumpiness. Atlético Madrid host Primera party-killers Espanyol at the Vicente Calderón, a stadium that still whiffs of happiness after the slaying of Milan. Barcelona have a less interesting tie at home to Osasuna in a match that will be a fairly flat 3-0 win to set up the small matter of a league Clásico next weekend.

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