Season in review: Isco or bust for Real Betis in tired season

Position: 7th – 57 points

Grade: C

Record: 14-15-9
Goals Scored: 48
Goals Conceded: 45


Top Scorer: Willian Jose – 14

Top Assister: Isco – 9


Story of the season

The season of Isco, in many ways. Making the move across from Sevilla last season, Isco found his spark, and his flame burned brightly, making Betis a must-watch through spells purely for him. A horrible fixture list left them with just two wins from eight games, and they were always playing catch up from there.

Even with Isco’s magic, some nice work from Marc Roca, a good Willian Jose, an excellent Chadi Riad, and an exciting Assane Diao, it was tough sledding throughout much of the campaign. After Manuel Pellegrini saw his star centre-back Luiz Felipe sold without a replacement in September, it seemed he felt betrayed, and unsatisfied by the resources given to him.

That was evident with the major rotations and subsequent exits in Europe at the hands of Rangers, Dinamo Zagreb and Alaves in the cup competitions. Isco continued to drive Betis towards a European finish, but until a late run from Ayoze Perez, only he and Willian Jose were producing goals.

The fading of Diao, the meek recovery of Nabil Fekir, and the underwhelming debut season from Ez Abde lowered their ceiling. Injuries to Guido Rodriguez, Bartra and Isco prevented them from hoping for anything more than the last European spot, even if they were in it until the end.


Grade Explanation

Betis left Pellegrini very short in terms of squad depth for three competitions, and that showed, but equally the Chilean could not extract the best from the likes of Abde, Luiz Henrique and William Carvalho did not aid their cause.

Betis in some ways did the bare minimum, qualifying for Europe, but that consistenty is valuable too, particularly for finances. The lack of effort in the cup competitions, and the singular win over another top half team in their last 12 games spoke to a season in which they were a bit more of a distance from La Real. Not a bad season, just not a good one.


Standout moment: 2-1 win over Valencia. Final stretches of the season, a late comeback with a winner from Ayoze Perez 14 minutes from time.

Key player: Isco – how coud it be anyone else. Full of magic and invention, a joy to watch.

Surprise of the season: Already on the move to Crystal Palace, Chadi Riad showed his quality from almost minute one, and the highlight came in an excellent performance at the Benito Villamarin against Real Madrid.


Glass half full

Betis should surely have a more balanced and deeper squad next season. That is the key issue. If Abde can settle better, and Diao can resume progress, they have some good attacking options. They could not have dreamed Isco would be this good, Johnny Cardoso has adapted seamlessly and is set for next season. There are pieces there, Betis just need to extract their best, and give Pellegrini some options.

Glass half empty

Fekir continues to look below par, Abde doesn’t appear to have earned Pellegrini’s affections, and they will likely lose Rodriguez too. Pellegrini might just explode if Betis do not give him a strong squad, and an already tight side will face absences. Betis need to open the windows and freshen things up, but there are no signs that will necessarily happen.

Tags Isco Manuel Pellegrini Real Betis
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