Los Verdiblancos headed into the international break in high spirits after their surprise victory over Barcelona at Camp Nou. The seven-goal thriller demonstrated the joys Quique Setien’s men could have in the final third when afforded the kind of space they were in Catalonia.
Junior Firpo’s opener was the kind of cutting-edge Betis have lacked so far this season; a clinical strike that sent Marc-Andre ter Stegen the wrong way. And so often in La Liga this season, the Andalusians have created opportunities in front of goal but, more often than not, fluffed their lines.
The positive is that they are creating chances. Betis average 13.7 shots per game, mainly attack through the middle and have a tendency to try their luck from range, scoring an average of one goal per game.
Despite the 4-3 triumph, Betis remain in the bottom half of the table, currently occupying 12th place – six places below where they finished at the end of last season. There is no doubt that when Betis are having a good day, they can outplay any side. Setien must be commended for the style he has brought to the Benito Villamarín.
Indeed, keeping hold of the ball has become their forte. Averaging 61.8 percent possession so far this season, Betis can often be found playing the ball short, but typically the ball ventures side to side rather than positively forward.
Betis are great to watch and score some very attractive goals, which is the main reason why Setien has previously been profiled as an ideal replacement for Ernesto Valverde at Camp Nou.
The problem Betis have, however, is that when you set aside the possession-based style and look past the quick short passes, they lack purpose and as a result can find it difficult to find an efficient ball out.
This could potentially be the reason why they have experienced several goalless draws and failed to score in six of their 12 games in La Liga this season. Aissa Mandi’s passing statistics are some of the best across Europe’s five biggest Leagues with a 93.6% passing accuracy, but the ball spends too much time at the back instead of the front.
At times, Betis are too slow to break the lines and get the ball forward, and sometimes sloppy play gives high-pressing opponents opportunities to exploit.
As previously mentioned, on their day Betis can outplay the best, but at times this season it has been style over substance, when Los Verdiblancos have passed for the sake of keeping possession instead of picking their heads up and looking for a forward option.
You can’t help but feel that if Setien’s side can continue to deliver style and add a touch of substance and quality to their game across 90 minutes consistently, there is no reason why they can’t finish in a European place come May.
After the international break Betis travel to La Ceramica to face a Villarreal side who have struggled so far this season and are just two places above the relegation zone. If the Andalusians add substance, they should be able to play the Yellow Submarine off the park and start to climb the table.