La Liga 2020/21 preview: Real Betis

Summer Transfer Business

There haven’t really been many headline arrivals at the Benito Villamarín this summer and the squad which starts the campaign will be more or less the same as the one which finished last season.

Claudio Bravo became a bit of a punchline in England but he’s got a good track record in La Liga with Real Sociedad and Barcelona and should represent an upgrade on Joel Robles between the sticks. Meanwhile Martin Montoya and Victor Ruiz will be trusted with adding a bit more defensive stability – only relegated Mallorca conceded more goals in La Liga than Betis last season. 

The Manager

Manuel Pellegrini has a great track record in La Liga, having worked wonders at Villarreal and Málaga and taken both clubs into the latter stages of the Champions League. Even his sole season at Real Madrid, trophyless as it was, saw him set what was then a club record points total in the league, only to finish second behind Guardiola’s Barcelona. 

But since he finished his maiden season in England by guiding Manchester City to the Premier League and League Cup, things have been decidedly mixed. He only added a further League Cup in the rest of his spell at the Etihad Stadium, had an unremarkable two-year spell in China and was sacked by West Ham last December with the club battling relegation. The Betis job comes at a good time for him, both he and the club are in desperate need of fresh starts.

Key Player

Nabil Fekir was a rare shining light in an otherwise miserable season for Betis. The former Lyon captain scored seven goals and made seven assists in his debut season in La Liga after his €19.75m move to Andalucia but like many of his teammates, his form tailed off badly towards the end of the campaign. If Betis are to be competitive this season, they need his quality to shine through.

One for the Future

It’s a big season for Emerson, currently half-owned by both Betis and Barcelona, with the latter having the option of signing him permanently next summer. Given the Catalan side’s struggles in trying to replace his compatriot Dani Alves on the right side of their defence, it feels like a good season from the former Atlético Mineiro player could see him return and claim that spot as his own. He was a regular starter for Betis last season, chipping in with three goals and six assists, but also accumulated 11 yellow cards. The addition of Montoya could see him face more competition this time around too.

Final Position

A club of Betis’ size should be aiming for the European positions but there’s little in their transfer business so far that suggests they have improved enough to close the gap on the teams above them but they will surely aim to improve on last season’s 15th place finish. Pellegrini will need Borja Iglesias to reproduce the form that persuaded Betis to spend €28m on him last summer – last season he only managed three goals in all competitions after his move, the same as he scored in three Europa League games for Espanyol during the summer. 

Andrew Gillan

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