Karim Benzema says he 'feels sorry' for pundits after Gary Lineker criticism

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has hit out at football pundits, telling Les Inrockuptibles he feels "sorry for them," following recent criticism from Gary Lineker.

After Benzema had missed three chances in Madrid's 1-1 Champions League draw against Tottenham last month, ex-Spurs and Barcelona star Lineker wrote on Twitter that the striker is "a tad overrated," calling him "decent not great."

Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane said Lineker's criticism was "embarrassing" coming from someone within the game, and Benzema seemed to agree with his coach.

"What I have more of a problem accepting is the criticism of former players-turned-journalists, who -- some of them -- spread their hate," he said. "They have gone through the same difficulties, but they have no solidarity. I feel sorry for them, really."

Benzema, meanwhile, remains hopeful he will feature for France at next summer's World Cup despite Didier Deschamps continuing to ignore the Madrid man's form.

Deschamps signed a two-year contract extension on Tuesday, meaning he is likely to remain in charge of France until 2020 barring a disastrous tournament next summer.

Deschamps has not selected Benzema since October 2015 following the emergence of his alleged involvement in attempted extortion on his international teammate Mathieu Valbuena. Though the police inquiry remains ongoing, Deschamps has said he has not definitively ruled Benzema out of his plans. 

Karim Benzema has not played for France since October 2015.

"Of course I want to get back into the France team," Benzema said. "Which footballer doesn't dream of playing a World Cup? I still have hope of going to Russia. But the main thing is to give myself every chance of doing that. I try to play as well as possible for my club, and we'll see where things stand at the end."

He added: "For me, there is no longer just that that counts. There's no point in talking about it anymore and it could be interpreted badly. I don't talk any more, I say nothing any more. I try to perform well and win trophies."

Benzema's former Madrid teammate Mesut Ozil feels the striker, who moved to seventh on the La Liga club's all-time scorers' list last month, should be welcomed back into the France fold.

"There are things that happened that I'm not really informed about," the Arsenal midfielder told SFR Sport. "But as a player, Benzema is one of the best strikers in the world. I think it's a shame he doesn't play for France."

Benzema's chances of pulling on the France shirt again would likely be increased if his Madrid boss and former France captain Zidane was appointed as Deschamps' successor.

The announcement of Deschamps' contract extension prior to next summer's World Cup has been met with surprise by some, and former France international Eric Abidal, who won his last senior cap under the 49-year-old in 2013, suggested the decision had been by default.

"Because Zizou wasn't available..." the ex-Barcelona and Monaco defender tweeted.

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

Source: http://www.espnfc.com/real-madrid/story/3253845/karim-benzema-says-he-feels-sorry-for-pundits-following-gary-lineker-criticism

Federico Valverde hopes to stay at Deportivo La Coruna from Real Madrid

With just two goals in eight games for Real Madrid this season, the FC guys debate whether or not Karim Benzema is overrated.

Zinedine Zidane remains optimistic about Real Madrid's form at the Santiago Bernabeu after their draw with Spurs.

Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde wants to extend his stay at Deportivo La Coruna after his loan spell finishes at the end of the season.

The Uruguay international joined Depor on a season-long loan deal in June, with the club not holding an option to buy him.

Valverde, in his first La Liga campaign, has made six league appearances for Depor, including four starts.

"The step I've taken to come to Depor is a big one," the 19-year-old told La Voz de Galicia. "This is no ordinary club. I want to make the most of this opportunity. Although it's early on, if given the chance and Madrid accepts, I would like to stay here for more years.

"I'm very happy, I've adapted well."

Federico Valverde will spend the season playing for Deportivo La Coruna.

Valverde scored three goals in 30 appearances for Real's Castilla team last season, helping them finish 11th in Spain's third division, and is delighted to be playing in La Liga.

"It's been an enormous change, from playing in Segunda B to the top flight," he said. "But I know I have to remain humble because if I don't, I will lose my spot in the team."

Real paid Uruguayan club Penarol a reported €5 million for Valverde in May 2015, and he has a contract at the Bernabeu until June 2021.

Valverde knows breaking into Real's first team is not realistic right now.

"Real Madrid have the best players in the world," he said. "They are winning everything with them and as a Real Madrid player, I'm happy about that although I'm also aware that it makes it more difficult [for young players to get playing time]. Things take time."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

Source: http://www.espnfc.com/story/3236003/federico-valverde-hopes-to-stay-at-deportivo-la-coruna-from-real-madrid

Messi scores his 100th European goal, Pique sent off as Barca cruise

Barcelona strolled to within striking distance of the last 16 of the Champions League by easily beating a woefully mismatched Olympiakos 3-1 even after having Gerard Pique sent off before the end of the first half.

Lionel Messi's 100th goal in European competitions, a trademark curling free kick, got the biggest cheer on a flat night at Camp Nou conditioned by the torrential rain in the Catalan capital and opponents who barely showed up.

Barca benefitted from an own goal for the fifth time this season as they took the lead when 19-year-old visiting defender Dimitris Nikolaou diverted Gerard Deulofeu's cross into his own net.

Lucas Digne struck his first Champions League goal for the club to stretch Barca's lead, while Nikolaou had the final say by scoring a consolation goal for the hapless visitors.

Positives

Barca are on the brink of the latter stages of the competition and barely had to break stride here. Digne looked confident and for the first time in a while and took advantage of his place in the starting lineup, while another record for Messi can do the free-scoring Argentine no harm.

Negatives

Barca lost their perfect defensive record in Europe when Nikolaou struck late, while Pique's lacklustre displays are a cause for concern. The Spain international is suspended for the return game in Athens, but on this evidence, Olympiakos are still unlikely to trouble Barca without him.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- Ernesto Valverde showed little mercy toward his beloved former club, only resting Ivan Rakitic and Nelson Semedo, with Jordi Alba forced out with injury. He switched formation from the 4-4-2 he has used recently to give Deulofeu an opportunity, although his hands were tied by Pique's untimely red card, and he naturally prioritised plugging the hole in defence, to the misfortune of the former Everton forward.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 6 -- Was a passenger for most of the game as the shy visitors offered almost no threat in attack, and there was little he could do about Nikolaou's bullet header at the end.

DF Sergi Roberto, 6 -- Linked up well with Deulofeu down the right-hand side in the first half but was forced to be more conservative in the second half with his team down to 10 men.

DF Gerard Pique, 3 -- His clumsy display got him sent off for the fifth time in his career, the first in the Champions League and for the first time in five seasons. He angrily protested referee Willie Collum giving him a second yellow card for slapping the ball into the net, but really, there was little case for his defence. Fortunately for Barca, Olympiakos were in no position to take advantage despite having the entire second half with an extra man.

DF Samuel Umtiti, 7 -- As calm in possession as ever, and he was easily able to snuff out any whiff of danger on the very rare occasion the Greeks came forward.

DF Lucas Digne, 7 -- Made only his second start of the season but looked far more confident than usual, perhaps lifted by playing 180 minutes earlier in the month with France. Took his goal superbly with a thumping low finish.

MF Paulinho, 7 -- The Brazilian talked before the game of his joy at working his socks off for the benefit of Messi, and he could certainly not be accused of conserving energy tonight, although he should have done better with his header which struck the bar.

Messi celeb 100th Barca goal 171018

Lionel Messi's free kick gave him 100 European goals, making him the first to score a century in Europe with one club.

MF Sergio Busquets, 7 -- Exerted his usual control, which was barely under threat even with 10 men.

MF Andres Iniesta, 7 -- Barely had to go beyond walking pace due to the weakness of the opposition but still dictated the pace of the game.

FW Gerard Deulofeu, 7 -- Made his first start in a month and was one of Barca's liveliest players in the first half, putting in a remarkable 11 crosses, more than the record by any Barca player over 90 minutes. One of those crosses was too much for Nikolaou, but despite helping break the deadlock, the Catalan was the first to be sacrificed after Pique had been sent off.

FW Luis Suarez, 5 -- His crucial late equaliser at Atletico unfortunately didn't have the desired effect on his confidence, and he still lacked sharpness, although he made up for it in effort and battling for every ball.

FW Lionel Messi, 7 -- The Argentine reached another milestone in racking up 100 European goals, but the flatness of the occasion meant he didn't need to raise his game. Still, he got a dormant crowd to their feet with his awesome free kick and delighted them again by dancing his way through the visiting defence to tee up Digne.

Substitutes

DF Javier Mascherano (for Pique), 6 -- Would not have expected to play 45 minutes after starting on the bench but had a very comfortable evening.

MF Ivan Rakitic (for Iniesta), 6 -- Played in a deeper role than usual as Barca took their foot off the gas when he came on after Digne had put the result beyond doubt.

MF Andre Gomes (for Busquets), NR -- The Portuguese was one of the most criticized players against Atletico but had a far easier ride here as he helped see out a game that was already settled.

Source: http://www.espnfc.com/club/barcelona/83/blog/post/3234771/lionel-messi-scores-his-100th-european-goal-gerard-pique-sent-off-as-barcelona-cruise

Real Madrid will sink or swim with Zinedine Zidane's rotation policy

There were five changes to Real Madrid's starting lineup for the match against Levante. The Bernabeu was treated to seven for the visit of APOEL. There were four for Alaves, and five for Tottenham.

Zinedine Zidane has positioned himself as a staunch advocate of squad rotation so far in his fledgling managerial career. Since taking the job in January 2016, the French coach has generally been credited with hauling Real Madrid out from the stodginess of Rafael Benitez's tenure. It is ironic, therefore, that Benitez is one of the most important proponents of the approach that Zidane has used to deliver an unprecedented four titles in 2016-17: the rotation policy.

Benitez made an average of 3.69 changes per game to his Valencia team in 2001-02, as Los Che rotated their way to the La Liga title. According to Benitez, the chop-and-change approach was fundamental to Valencia's winning the league for the first time in 31 years.

"In January [2002] we were eight points behind Real Madrid and we finished six or seven points ahead. Why? Because we were fresh at the end of the season," Benitez explained in his 2012 book "Champions League Dreams".

Benitez's rotation policy was treated with suspicion in England after he joined Liverpool in 2004. Sceptics say that it breeds instability and prevents players forming intuitive connections on the pitch. Traditionalists point to Ron Saunders' Aston Villa side of 1980-81, which won the English First Division with 14 players. Or to Bill Shankly's Liverpool, which achieved the same feat in 1965-66.

But the physical demands placed on modern players, coupled with the number of matches that elite clubs play, render such comparisons irrelevant. Football is not axiomatic and managers cannot rely on received wisdom in an environment that constantly develops around them. Rotation is a form of evolution, and Benitez and Zidane have both embraced that change rather than resisting it.

Paco de Miguel -- a fitness coach who has worked with Benitez at various clubs -- explains the logic of squad rotation in three points. Firstly, rotation prevents players from increasing their risk of injury by playing an excessive number of matches. Secondly, physical performance decreases when players play two or three matches in a week. Thirdly, it creates competition within the squad.

The final point is particularly applicable to Real Madrid's title win in 2016-17. Rotation created an atmosphere whereby every player -- with the possible exception of poor Fabio Coentrao -- knew that they would play, that they could contribute, and that the glory was partly due to them.

Zidane used the full depth of his squad in the spring of 2017, allowing Madrid to compete for both La Liga and the Champions League. Throughout the season, 20 players played 1,000 minutes or more in La Liga, and back-up goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was only 10 minutes away from that figure too.

Crucially, Madrid were able to rotate the starting lineup against middling teams without sacrificing momentum. Barcelona slipped up against Alaves, Celta Vigo, Deportivo La Coruna and Malaga, while Real Madrid brushed them aside.

Rotation has become normal, particularly for clubs that play up to 60 matches in a season due to European and domestic commitments. It would be misleading to present Benitez and Zidane as its only disciples. Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United won the Premier League and the Champions League in 2007-08 without naming the same lineup in consecutive matches. Pep Guardiola deployed a similar approach with his all-conquering Barcelona side of 2008-09.

But Zidane further developed the method. He took Benitez's template and fed it a diet of steak and steroids. The 45-year-old rotated his squad to the extent that two distinct, but ostensibly equal teams emerged: Real Madrid "A", and Real Madrid "B", as the Spanish media dubbed them. It was unprecedented.

"It's harder to beat Real Madrid 'B' than Real Madrid 'A'," rued Deportivo manager Pepe Mel, after Madrid romped to a 6-2 victory at Riazor, having made nine changes to the team that lost to Barcelona a few days earlier.

Zidane has continued to rotate his squad this season, but the football has been disjointed. The defeat to Real Betis and the draw with Levante demonstrate that. Even victories at Alaves and Getafe have been met with the collective diagnosis that "something is not quite clicking".

That is natural. James Rodriguez, Alvaro Morata, and to a lesser extent Danilo, were essential to the viability of Real Madrid "B" last season. They have all left the club, and their replacements are weaker. The arrival of Theo Hernandez provides support in a previously-vulnerable area of the pitch, but the Real Madrid squad does not boast the same depth that it did just six months ago. Cristiano Ronaldo's suspension, and injuries to Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Dani Carvajal, and Marcelo have exacerbated the issue. Ultimately, the success of a rotation policy is dependent on the quality of the squad that it is applied to.

"I'm not going to change. ... I believe in what I'm doing," Zidane has stated, and reiterated.

Judgement will arrive at the end of the season, and it will probably be extreme. Fans and sections of the media will herald Zidane as a genius and identify rotation as his defining principle if Madrid recover from their current deficit to retain La Liga. On the flip side, rotation will be deemed a catastrophic misjudgement if they fall short. But in truth, Zidane has little choice. Rotation is a necessary product of Real Madrid's unquenchable thirst for success on all fronts.

Source: http://www.espnfc.com/club/real-madrid/86/blog/post/3233713/real-madrid-will-sink-or-swim-with-zinedine-zidanes-rotation-policy

La Liga cancels award ceremony for 2016-17 in order to launch new format

The Spanish Football League (LFP) has cancelled its annual Gala Awards Ceremony that honours the top players and coaches in Spain and will instead create a new format that ensures better attendance.

The 2015-16 awards winners Lionel Messi (best striker) and Luis Suarez (best world player) of Barcelona as well as Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann (best player of the year) did not attend the ceremony that was held in October 2016 in Valencia.

A La Liga statement to ESPN FC said: "With the aim of defining a new format and adapting it to the La Liga new strategy, we have taken the decision not to celebrate the Gala Awards for the 2016-17 campaign.

"La Liga will focus all its efforts to end 2017 with a great football party that will coincide with Round 17 of La Liga Santander and Round 20 of the LaLiga 1|2|3.

"During this time in which football will have a starring role, we will celebrate great events and it will be essential the involvement of the clubs and members of La Liga."

The top game of the 17th round of La Liga fixtures will be the first league Clasico of the season with Real Madrid hosting Barcelona on Saturday, Dec. 23, at 1 p.m. CET.

La Liga's awards were established in the 2008-09 campaign and rewards the best coach and player in each position -- goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward -- from Spain's top two divisions.

The players are chosen based on the voting of the captains of each club while the best player and best world player are selected via public voting.

Source: http://www.espnfc.com

Malaga winger Javi Ontiveros sent on “indefinite period of reflection”

Malaga winger Javi Ontiveros has been sent on an “indefinite period of reflection” after an accumulation of disciplinary issues, according to Diario SUR.

Sources close to the camp say that the 20-year-old has recently broken the internal code of conduct but that the decision to exclude him from the group is not as a direct result of the latest infraction.

With his side in a delicate situation with just one point from six games, head coach Míchel is showing that a lack of discipline cannot be tolerated – as Ontiveros has discovered to his cost.

Ontiveros will train seperately from the main group for a period of time that has not yet been confirmed, but is expected to last weeks rather than days. However, he can use this time to continue his recovery from an injury to the the pubic area which has limited him to just four substitute appearances so far this campaign.Throughout his fledgling career, as he came up through the youth ranks, Ontiveros has been considered something of a rebel, but this summer he finally graduated from the youth set-up, signing a first-team contract.

This year he has inherited the number 17 shirt from former club captain and legend Duda, and is expected to be part of the club’s long-term plans having established himself in the second half of last season -after Míchel took the reins from Marcelo Romero- seeing off competition from former Eibar winger Keko.

Playing predominantly from the right-hand side, Ontiveros is known for his pace and direct running. Last season, the youngster racked up two goals and three assists and is the latest prodigy from the illustrious Malaga academy which has in recent years produced the likes of Pablo Fornals, Samu Castillejo and Sergi Darder – all of whom have been sold for large fees.

Source: La Liga News

The Catalan independence referendum and what it means for Catalan clubs

On Sunday evening, the Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was interviewed by Jordi Évole as part of a Spanish investigative journalism show called Salvados. At the end of what was often a fairly tense hour of questions about the upcoming Catalan independence referendum, the conversation shifted to football.

“What do you think the score will be between Barça and Girona tomorrow?” Asked Evole. (The interview was filmed last Friday before the game.)

Puigdemont, a native of Girona, appeared somewhat worn out by the final ten minutes of the interview. He laughed nervously for a few seconds, before deciding not to predict the score.

“I try not to predict the future.” He said.

Football and politics

In Catalonia right now, there are lots of people trying to predict the future. Specifically what will happen this Sunday, 1st October. Will the vote on independence take place? Will the government in Madrid forcibly stop it from taking place? And if it does take place and there is a majority for si, what then? Will there then be a new country in Europe next week?

It might seem trivial to mix politics with football, but the truth is that such practice is commonplace in Spain. If you go to watch Barça play at Camp Nou, it’s hard to escape the politics. In recent years, especially in big games such as the one against Juventus a couple of weeks ago, huge banners are often displayed for the TV cameras. “Catalonia is not Spain.” “Welcome to the Republic of Catalonia.” These are the kind of messages on display.

And in each half of every game, when the clock ticks past 17 minutes and 14 seconds, a cry erupts around the steep stands of the stadium calling for independence. Everywhere you look at that time there is a sea of Catalan flags. Why the 17th minute and the 14th second? 1714 was the year that Barcelona fell in the War of the Spanish Succession and Catalonia lost its autonomy. So yes – politics and football tend to go hand-in-hand in Spain.

A protest in tweets

And the tension has been building. On Wednesday 20th September, the Guardia Civil arrested 12 senior Catalan Government officials and confiscated papers with a view to impede the referendum planned for this Sunday. That evening tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Barcelona to protest against the arrests.

There were also official denouncements from institutions in Barcelona. Primavera Sound, the famous music festival held every year in the city in June tweeted their disapproval of the actions of the Spanish government.

So did Barça.

In an official club statement, the club said they were supporting democracy and the freedom of expression. The implication being that the Spanish government had infringed on both. Girona FC made a pretty similar statement via Twitter.

The fact that Espanyol’s Twitter feed that day was focused more on commemorating their old stadium in Sarrià didn’t go unnoticed. It led to familiar accusations about the club being “less Catalan” than Barça, which is a bit of a generalisation.

La Lliga Catalana?

The fact that there are now three teams in La Liga from Catalonia was something that was celebrated before the season began. Compared to the Basque Country, it has been somewhat under-represented given the influence of the region. But is there a chance that after Sunday the Catalan teams will be getting to know each other a lot more? Could it be that if Catalonia gains its independence, the Catalan teams will no longer be allowed to play in La Liga?

Around the time of the last referendum (albeit a non-binding one) in Catalonia nearly three years ago, Sid Lowe wrote about the possibility of it happening for The Guardian. Not much has changed since his analysis. The league only allows for non-Spanish teams from Andorra to compete. No other state. But could that law be changed?

One thing is for sure – as Lowe mentions in his piece – if there were to be repercussions after independence in terms of the Spanish teams being kicked out, the size of Barça means they would undoubtedly cope better than Espanyol or Girona.

Renewed hostility

The other consideration is the amount of hostility that the Catalan teams (but mainly Barça) will receive on their travels in the wake of the referendum on Sunday. Whatever the result. The club is already often on the receiving end of hundreds of Spanish flags being waved in their direction and chants about Barcelona being part of Spain whether they like it or not.

A lot of people in the rest of Spain are hurt at the Catalans attempting to leave. This was demonstrated by the people lining the streets in Andalusia to wave off policemen heading to Catalonia to try to stop the vote from taking place. Even if the vote doesn’t take place or the result isn’t for independence, the ill feeling is sure to intensify.

Until Sunday, it’s hard to imagine what is going to happen. By the time Barça kick-off against Las Palmas at 4.15pm at Camp Nou, we’ll have a much better idea. At least we’ll know whether people have been allowed to vote or not. If they haven’t, then the chants for independence on the 17th minute and the 14th second are unlikely to stop.

They’ll just get louder.

Source: La Liga News

Alaves consider Gus Poyet for managerial role

Alaves have made an initial contact with former Chelsea midfielder Gus Poyet over the vacant managerial role at the club.

Heading into the game against Villarreal at the weekend, Alaves had failed to score a single goal and they were hopeless in front of goal once more as the away side scored three with no reply.

The club’s fourth straight defeat with no goals scored came after losses to Leganes, Barcelona and Celta Vigo, thus costing Argentine boss Luis Zubeldia his job, just months after taking over.

Javier Cabello has now taken over as interim manager, with the search for a permanent option already underway.

Failed attempts for former Espanyol boss Javier Aguirre and Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka have led the club to look at former Spanish internationals Abelardo and Ruben Baraja.

Whilst initial contact has been made for Poyet, who left his position at Shanghai Shenhua earlier this month, following four straight defeats in the Chinese Super League.

The former Brighton and Sunderland boss had a spell with Real Betis in May 2016 but was sacked after six months following player arguments and bad results.

Alaves lost 1-0 to Deportivo on Wednesday evening to further put their early season struggles into question.

Source: La Liga News

Gaku Shibasaki facing six weeks out injured

Getafe midfielder Gaku Shibasaki is facing six weeks out injured after hurting his foot during the league defeat to Barcelona on Saturday.

The home side may have lost the game 2-1 to the current La Liga table toppers, but Shibasaki’s superb first half effort was much talked about.

The Japanese international arrived at the Madrid based club this summer after spending time with Kashima Antlers and enjoying a six month loan spell with Tenerife.

The 25-year-old became the first player from Japan to score against both Barca and Real Madrid on Saturday but was forced off due to injury just before the hour mark.

And, tests have now confirmed that he will miss six weeks of action.

Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele was also injured in the game, which has led both boss Ernesto Valverde and keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to bemoan the state of the pitch at Coliseum Alfonso Perez.

However, Getafe president Angel Torres has hit back at that criticism, saying the pitch was in ‘perfect condition’.

“Our pitch was in perfect condition and was in line with the parameters of which La Liga demands,” Torres told Onda Cero on Monday night.

“People have complained about our pitch but there is no justification for these words – the league has even congratulated us on the state of our pitch!

“The measurement of the grass? Ours was 29mm and the league stipulates the grass must be between 20-30mm so we were within that range.

“Barcelona’s Coach was right in saying there was nothing else to say about the pitch, of course we are sad Dembele got injured and we wish him a quick recovery to action.”

Getafe face Celta Vigo on Thursday night at the Balaidos as they seek to get their second win of the new season, whilst Barcelona host Eibar at the Camp Nou on Tuesday evening, looking to make it five wins out of five games.

Related Post

Source: La Liga News

Real Betis 110 Year Anniversary: A Review

This week saw Real Betis celebrate their 110 year anniversary. With that, we at LaLigaNews.co.uk decide to mark the occasion by looking back on the past 110 years and attempt to condense an amazing history into a short article.

This will briefly cover; the origins of the club, why the green and white strips, their main successes and some other standout points.

Football was first introduced to the Andalusian city of Seville by the large British expatriate population in the city. The locals were quick to pick up on this new sport and created the club Sevilla FC in 1905, where they naturally played mainly against the British ex-pats in the area.

2 years later – due to the growing popularity of the sport – the club Sevilla Balompié was founded by a group of students where they initially played in blue shirts with white shorts.

In 1909, Sevilla FC suffered some internal conflict and a third team was created, when one of the members founded Betis FC. They became Real Betis FC in August of 1914 once royal patronage was granted by King Alfonso VIII.

In December of that year, Real Betis FC joined forces with Sevilla Balompie. The ‘Sevilla’ was dropped from the team name and thus, the modern name and team of Real Betis Balompie was formed.

Today’s club clearly recognise the students’ founding of ‘Sevilla Balompié’ in 1907 as the day of the clubs commencement, due to the celebrations of the 110 year anniversary this week.

As mentioned, the team initially played in blue shirts with white shorts. This was changed to green and black vertical stripes until 1920 when they permanently changed to the green and white stripes the Verdiblancos are now renowned for.

The main reason behind this change was down to another club synonymous with green and white kits; Celtic. The Glasgow team donated one of their kits to one of the founders of Real Betis. In order to have their own stamp on the kit, Betis changed from hoops back to their vertical stripes, but maintained the colours.

Real Betis grew in popularity in the proceeding years and entered into La Liga for the first time in the 1932/33 season. In 1935, they won their first and only La Liga title where they overcame Real Madrid to the title on the final day of the season.

This league champion’s team was headed by Barcelona legend Patrick O’Connell, better known in footballing circles as Paddy Don Patricio. Having had the distinction of being the first player from Ireland to play for Man United, O’Connell also moved into management which lead him to Real Betis. There, he won their first and only league title. After that, he became manager of Barcelona and was partially responsible for saving the club, as his side toured Mexico, thus raising enough funds to eradicate the clubs debt.

The years proceeding O’Connell’s time in Seville were marred with the Spanish Civil War, which resulted in the mass reduction of club members due to the fighting between the republicans and nationalists.

After the Civil War had subsided, Betis sought to re-join La Liga. Other clubs were either not willing, or not able to so, as a result Betis were immediately relegated to La Segunda. The Andalusian club struggled for years and endured a period of going up and down. They even ended up spending 7 years in the 3rd division at one stage. Upon promotion, Real Betis became the first club to win the title in Spain’s top 3 divisions.

Following this promotion, Manuel Ruiz Rodriguez, the club president at the time, stepped down and allowed Benito Villamarin to take his place. His name is familiar to a lot of people due to Real Betis’ stadium now being named after him. Villamarin bought the existing ground (Estadio Heliopolis) Betis were using in 1961 and is seen as a key point in the clubs history.

The period of the next 30 years from 1961-1991 saw the club achieve stability and even ended up winning Copa del Rey in 1977 after beating Athletic Bilbao in the final. It took 21 penalties following a 2-2 draw to win but each Betico packed into the Vicente Calderon was delighted.

Come 1992, the club endured a tumultuous time where financial tensions were at their peak for the club. The club decided to convert themselves into a Public Limited Sports Company in 1991, it was horrific timing as they suffered relegation at the end of the season.

Due to new league rules and regulations, the club was forced to raise 1,200 million pesetas. This is roughly converting into €7.2 million today, which is roughly the outlay paid for Ryad Boudebouz this summer; but in 1992, this was an alarming matter for the club and was twice the fee required of all other first and second division clubs.

The supporters of Real Betis pooled together and accumulated 1/3 of the fee required. The club also raised a further 100 million pesetas. The then vice president, Manuel Ruiz de Lopera obtained control of the majority of the stock with 680 million pesetas remaining to be paid. In doing so, he had to provide an economic guarantee and became the majority shareholder of the club.

Since then, the club has had its ups and downs, with the ‘ups’ ending with the club qualifying for European football and the downs resulting in the club being relegated to La Segunda.

One of these ‘ups’ came about in the 2004/05 season where Betis claimed their second Copa del Rey. Back in Madrid and the Vicente Calderon for the final, this time Real Betis put away their opponents Osasuna in extra time with youth graduate, Dani scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory.

Looking to today, Real Betis has accumulated one of their best squads in years and certainly appear to be on the cusp of another ‘up’. Below, are some standout stats of players over the 110 years of Real Betis Balompíe:

Most Appearances: José Ramón Esnaola, 456 games

Most Goals: Ruben Castro, 147 goals in 280 games

Biggest Transfer In: Denilson from Sao Paulo in 1998 €31.5 million

Biggest Transfer Out: Joaquin to Valencia in 2006 for €25 million

Source: La Liga News