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[FM17] Rewriting history: Betis, from Summer 2016


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Guys, this is just an experiment. I've not been sticking to any careers recently, so I won't promise I'll stick with this.

But let's try something different. After toying with FM18 recently (see the career in Uzbekistan and a very shortlived youth challenge in the Netherlands), I've rewound the clock further, and downloaded...

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And decided to go manage...

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Real Betis Balompié, most commonly known as Betis, from Seville, Spain. One of my favourite clubs in our neighbour country.

The goal? Do better than what they did in real life. I take over in Summer 2016 and in real life since they've gone...

2016-2017: 15th place in La Liga
2017-2018: 6th
2018-2019: 10th
2019-2020: currently 13th

I think I can do a little better, and more importantly enjoy a game I have found memories of. It plays out on the pitch quite considerably different to other recent FM versions and I've enjoyed pre-season so far. The next post should show a little of the squad and what I am working on tactically at the moment.

Edited by noikeee
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FM17 was famous for rewarding teams that overloaded the center of the pitch (even more so strikerless sides, though I've not gone down that route - yet), so I am unashamedly going for a Xmas Tree formation (narrow 4-3-2-1) as a starting point:

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Very much a work in progress, pre-season has been good but not super convincing:

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Our short passing game is good at creating space, but can be a bit one-dimensional focused on exploiting the central through ball game, late runners into the box and little else - I would like a more complete striker who could head the ball as well. We don't shoot a lot, so far have won most of these matches by a single goal. Another issue is the team can be unbalanced at times defensively, and I certainly would want an alternate formation to stabilize things at the back against attacking opponents. Nevertheless it feels like a positive starting point game plan.

Onto the squad:

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(as a sidenote how good the game looks eh! I'm using a skin but how much better the game is at certain things compared to later versions is bizarre)

I'm not gonna go through every single player, but let's look at some potential important cogs in the machine:
 

Strikers

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The young Paraguayan striker hasn't quite fulfilled his potential in real life and is having a disappointing season on loan at Genoa, but back in 2016 here he is represented with pretty high potential in-game and as such it makes sense to build my forward line around him. He is deadly but lacks aerial ability and is pace is only just okay. I see a future in which I hire a better pacey striker to lead the line and adapt him to shadow striker AMC.

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The veteran Castro is a better all round forward at the moment but is already 35 years old. As such it makes sense to withdraw him and play him as shadow striker rather than fielding upfront when his pace will be soon tanking.

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Our 3rd choice striker is completely different, not a great player but pretty good in the air. I imagine an alternate plan with 2 strikers (potentially a 4-3-1-2) that tries to make use of this, particularly for matches that are hard to unlock.

Midfielders

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Onto midfielders, and the standout name in the whole squad is this guy who we know for being on loan from Real Madrid to Arsenal in 2020, after terrorising the Under 21 Euros. Branded as a "wonderkid" he is an excellent choice for trequartista, he should only get better and better.

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I am spoiled with excellent depth of midfielders, and it's hard to even know who to screenshot as we have several excellent players. Chilean international Gutierrez stands out as a player that can pretty much do anything. I have him down for DLP at the moment but expect him to play several different roles in different circumstances.

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Frenchman Jonas Martin is another great all-rounder. I have him as CM/A for now and he scored twice in pre-season already.

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Brazilian Petros is the destroyer, I am currently using him as a central BWM/D but I'm not entirely certain this is sensible as this means we essentially have no holding player, and the BWM is getting a lot of cards. It's a work in progress......

Defenders

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Onto the defensive line, and in a narrow system fullbacks are crucial. Geraldes is my only signing so far, for a mere 375K from Sporting. He is not outstanding but I need fullbacks that can attack.

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On the left Durmisi feels good enough to hold down a CWB/A role. He is very quick, a very good dribbler for a fullback, and will get better with potential.

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I'm not gonna screenshot all my CBs but on paper this is my better guy. In reality they're all very similar level to each other and I'm not so sure I'm a huge fan of this guy because he's technically limited and slow whilst I'm trying to play from the back and press a little bit. He's an excellent defender though.

The odd men out - wingers

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Onto players that might be a little neglected by my system. Joaquin is a Betis legend but since we don't use wingers he'll need to fit somewhere else. I've been experimenting with him as alternative to both Trequartista and Shadow Striker as AMC. He works better as trequartista IMO, as playing as SS he drifts too much to his preferred right wing.

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Another talented winger is this teenager. Since he's just on loan for the season I can't build my side around him neither, however I see him as a very nice alternative to play upfront as striker thanks to his pace and decent finishing. Could also conceivably be a very good shadow striker.

Edited by noikeee
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Almost all of my previous careers have followed a very formulaic posting style: ex a post after every month, or every 3 months etc. For this one I'm gonna experiment with a looser format although I plan to generally do a more in-depth match-per-match report and talk about what I'm doing tactically.

Edited by noikeee
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Two special kids I have on my books... one made it to Barcelona, the other to the Spanish national team and became one of Serie A's best midfielders by 2020:

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Sadly neither of them appear to have particularly brilliant potential in-game here. :( 

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Swapping right-backs

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Piccini was unsettled due to being wanted by Valencia, I didn't particularly rate him anyway (well he's better in FM than in real life in which he was utterly unremarkable for Sporting :lol: ), and had a strong alternative in Geraldes so it was easy to let him for a fairly good bid.

I had to replace him though, so the 2nd signing of this transfer window is again a rightback. Zaldua is slightly better than Piccini in right about anything except aerial play, which might be a weakness in certain matches. The other downside is I have to pay him pretty big wages, he's gonna make more cash than anyone else apart from Joaquin, however that's the usual price to pay to bring in quality.

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Rest of the pre-season

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We've looked better in these final 3 friendlies, despite not being up against much of an opposition. We're scoring more freely, largely thanks to some venomous low crosses coming in from both flanks from the fullbacks. It's all looking pretty promising and I think it's due to the players getting better gelled with the tactic now, but we'll see what happens when the real matches start.

Speaking of which, this is our initial calendar:

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I wouldn't say this is an easy calendar as the first teams we face at home (Athletic and Valencia) are pretty competitive, so there's no slam dunk easy 3 points to bank in any fixture here, but we should be getting a few points before we face our first really supertough test against Real.

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An unlikely deal

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Our 3rd and possible final signing of the transfer window, is a loan of Irish youngster Liam Kelly from Reading in the Championship. This is a bit unusual, I'm not entirely sure we need yet more attacking midfielders but I sense with an injury crisis we'd be struggling, and Kelly brings some stuff we didn't have, such as a decent long shot. I negotiated an optional future 10M€ fee, if he impresses during the season and we can raise the money, it could possibly be worth it to pay this to grab a talented player with potential - although right now he has no interest in joining us permanently.

Edited by noikeee
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A lukewarm start

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A bit of a disappointing beginning of the season, as we get a goalless draw with Alavés. Their high pressing game and fullbacks bombing forward in a 4-2-3-1 unsettled us, but we adapted in the 2nd half, dropping the shorter passing instruction (to try to get us to break past their lines more quickly on the break) and telling players to dribble less to keep the ball moving. In truth both teams should've had goals as there were clear chances - a 1-1 draw would've been a more representative description of what happened on the pitch.

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Sanabria saves the day: Betis 1-1 Athletic

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A match that played out much like the inaugural away day to Alavés, we again were harassed by an aggressive team and had to concede the initiative of the game to the opposition somewhat - I had to use a defensive trick I use for narrow formations which is to manmark the opposition fullbacks (I used my duo of AMCs for this); and drop to counter mentality.

The difference here is they scored first... thankfully just after the break Sanabria scored a wonder solo goal on the counter from a defensive corner and saved us from defeat. Not a great start to the season but we haven't lost a match yet neither.

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Eibar 1-5 Betis: Sanabria, Castro, Martin shine in counter-attacking masterclass

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Woof, what a different match. Although I very much used an alternate plan through most of the match, the main difference was Eibar setting out in an open 4-4-2 which plays into our hands, conceding the middle in which we are so strong. Antonio Sanabria (2 goals, 1 assist), Ruben Castro (1 goal, 2 assists) and Jonas Martin (1 goal, 1 assist) were all absolutely unplayable and although Sanabria went off injured, he'll only be out for a week.

The differences in instructions:

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And the 2 AMCs marking the opposition fullbacks, I think I'm gonna make this permanent (though it forces me to keep a close eye if the AI changes tactics or players, so that they don't suddenly start marking somewhere else):

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I'm also toying with set piece instructions, we haven't scored from corners yet and we should.

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Betis 0-2 Valencia: Talented Valencia forwards make the difference

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Sanabria started on the bench due to not being fit enough after the injury, but this is a cheap excuse. Valencia were largely superior throughout the match, and all it took was their wingers Rodrigo and Nani to beat our fullbacks in 1v1s to create space for Munir to finish both chances. We looked a little better after a late switch to a 4-3-1-2, but it was too late.

Left-back Durmisi picked up an injury and will miss the next month - bad timing as there's a very packed calendar right now.

The league table looks like this:

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Las Palmas 0-1 Betis: Goal against the run of play bails us in the Canaries

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With this match being played just 3 days after the defeat to Valencia, I had to rotate many players. Once again the opposition looked superior through the match, but Sanabria mugged a ball off a defender, put it into the back of the net, and got us 3 points.

2 new tactical systems were tried in this match, and I plan to use the deeper 4-1-3-2 against Real in the next fixture, which doesn't look like an easy match at all!

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Betis 0-3 Real Madrid: Poor showing against world class side

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The 4-1-3-2 unfortunately didn't work at all to contain the bags of talent from Real. We hardly ever threatened on the counter too, and eventually through attrition they went a couple of goals up.

A late switch to a 3-6-1 variant (3-3-2-1-1 with AMC and ST offset) looked much, much better, and we actually should've scored at least one as we had a few crystal clear chances. But it was far too late.

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We're looking like a unremarkable midtable side for now, but I think I'm still on the tactics board and there's lots of performance to squeeze in from this lot yet.

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La Liga round 7
Real Sociedad 1-1 Betis: Another new system shows promise

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Although the 3-6-1 variant had done well in the final minutes against Real Madrid, I felt this was too defensive a plan to use for matches like this one against Sociedad, and it also meant squandering one of our attacking midfielders, notably Ceballos. With Ceballos also largely unimpressive so far as trequartista, I felt a little reshuffle bringing him deeper would be benefitial:

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(there was a little mistake here, Petros should've been the BWM with Gutierrez behind him!)

This looked good on the first half, Ceballos looked much more involved as RPM with the game in front of him, than he had been before as trequartista. We went a goal up through the inevitable Sanabria, however as the match progressed Sociedad equalised and gained control of it. Our fullbacks were largely taken out of the game by their wingers and this was a problem as it made our game a bit too funneled - something to think about in coming weeks, but I think I'll toy with this system more.

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Goal spread has definitely been a big problem so far this season, we basically only score through Sanabria which is very concerning:

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I would've expected Castro as shadow striker to add a few, instead he's been assisting Sanabria over and over again as pretty much our main and only path to goal - something to think about...

League table:

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Copa del Rey draw

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I don't think we're good enough yet to challenge for the cup this year, but this together with the quarter, semis draw (all done in the same day) was pretty good, essentially if we keep on progressing we can only face Real/Barça in the final which is very fortunate. Levante are a divison below us, too, so not bad opponents to kick off our cup run.

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La Liga round 8
Betis 1-1 Granada: Late equalizer ruins what had been a good game

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We went into this with another slight tweak, giving more freedom to attack to the RB than the LB this time. The reasoning being, to give more passing options in front of the RPM (Martin this time, not Ceballos who was unfit here), who felt a bit blinkered and hogging the ball too much at times in the previous game. I also told us to dribble less.

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It wasn't bad. For the first time in quite a while we dominated the game - albeit against poor opposition. But we struggled to create much from open play, largely playing in front of their defence. Bizarrely Liam Kelly missed a penalty kick, only to score his first Betis goal from a FK minutes later.

We were holding on to this lead fairly well in an uninspiring 2nd half, only to suddenly concede in the dying minutes once they switched to a desperate 4-2-4. Disappointing.

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La Liga round 9
Betis 2-0 Málaga: Flowing performance rewarded with win despite red card

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Yet another match, yet another system, back closer to the initial Xmas tree formation if not quite the same. The idea here is the CF/SS duo upfront just isn't enough to drag defenses around, so we'd introduce an extra decoy in the shape of an enganche. The sacrificed player is the CM/A, albeit Kelly had done well in this position the previous match (but largely playing far from goal rather than showing up late to kill moves, which is what I want from a CM/A).

I also dropped shorter passing - should happen naturally anyway with all these central playmakers.

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It made for great football. Our first half was one of the best of the season so far, and we comfortably went 2 goals up. Unfortunately Petros saw a red just before half-time, which put us in the back foot the rest of the match. But we survived their onslaught as they switched to an attacking 3-4-3, and we could've added more on the counter. A good performance and result.

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Injury to Ceballos

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He's had a very disappointing, largely uninfluential season so far, but never good news to see a wonderkid stop for 2 months due to injury. He'll miss the Barcelona away match at the Camp Nou which comes right next.

His poor stats:

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La Liga round 10
Barcelona 4-2 Betis: Clinical Barça finishing inflates scoreline

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For such a tough match there was no serious alternative other than reverting to our most defensive plan - the 3-3-2-1-1 we had debuted in the last 20 minutes against Real Madrid.

We were a goal down after 5 minutes, but you'd be mistaken to think this'd be a sign of complete domination from the home side, which wasn't the case. We fought back with dangerous counters, and twice Castro assisted Sanabria (predictably), as we twice pulled goals back. But ultimately we were undone by 3 crosses (!) from fullbacks Alba and Roberto, and a Suarez freekick. A brave performance from my players, but the gulf in quality was too much.

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La Liga round 11
Betis 0-0 Deportivo: Dull display bores fans

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I can't keep ****ing quiet on the tactics front, so of course I had to tweak things again.

The idea is to make us more diverse in our scoring patterns - a CM/A is re-introduced to bring more firepower from deep, whilst Sanabria is made a CF/S instead of a CF/A - a dangerous thing to do, since he's been so effective as CF/A, but I'm trusting the team to become better overall and less one-dimensional.

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Unfortunately, it didn't work. We were toothless all game long and the game fizzled out to a dull 0-0 against a deep defensive Deportivo side - instead of adding more firepower we did the inverse by removing Sanabria from the danger zone. Back to the drawing board.

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La Liga round 12
Celta 1-2 Betis: Early red card plays into our hands

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Of course there's a new tactic, it's a tradition for every single match here with Betis. How about returning to what we had with Sanabria as CF/A... but have the central decoy as a striker instead of a AMC? In comes a false nine.

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I got what I wanted. We won, scored twice, and neither of the goals coming from Sanabria. That being said, we were very helped by an early red card to a Celta player - but on the 2nd half, after a few touches to the team instructions we looked inspired and free flowing. There's some promising signs here - and it was a great result.

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La Liga round 13
Leganés 1-1 Betis: Set pieces decide the match

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After the good result in Vigo, I repeated the tactics and the front trio of Joaquin-Kelly-Sanabria, with Castro and Ceballos injured.

It worked well again as we were flowing and had the better chances, but it wasn't a totally one-sided match. The goals would come from set pieces - we got ours first from a corner, then on a wide indirect freekick our keeper Adán came out hotheaded and was beaten to the ball for the equalizer. We probably deserved the 3 points, but with the team playing well and starting to gel around a tactic, I can't be too displeased.

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The league table represents our recent improvements in form, as we get closer to European places. I am optimistic we can at least hold on to this 8th place, and probably improve it. We've not had a super impressive season, but it's worth noting the only teams that managed to beat us yet were Real, Barça and Valencia:

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Edited by noikeee
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La Liga round 14
Betis 1-1 Osasuna: Pretty football fails to break down parked bus

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For the 3rd consecutive match I went in with the same tactics and with Joaquin-Kelly-Sanabria upfront. I had reasons to be optimistic.

We looked free flowing on the pitch, but struggled to create chances whilst Osasuna held on in a very defensive 5-4-1 formation. The minutes kept ticking and shockingly near the end, they took the lead.

I inovated and for the first time this season introduced a wide forward, taking off the shadow striker for a inside forward. It wasn't a direct factor in the equaliser we scored almost immediately later, but we looked better in this shape - one to keep in the arsenal.

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Copa del Rey 4th round leg 1
Levante 1-1 Betis: The backups fail to impress in the cup

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Facing a Liga 2 side, this was an obvious opportunity to rotate. Many players which hardly ever play got their chance here.

They disappointed as we hardly looked like the 1st tier team here, and Levante had the better chances. We looked better after I switched to the tactic with the wide IF after half-time, and took the lead through a deflected Liam Kelly FK, but they drew soon after. Underwhelming, but not a bad result to take to the 2nd leg.

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Funds for the winter transfer window

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Woah, the transfer budget suddenly shot up, I'm almost certain we DIDN'T have 7M to spend previously. Good stuff. I might just activate Liam Kelly's release clause and spend the entire budget on it, but we do need a bit more quality or depth in certain positions. Will investigate.

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La Liga round 15
Betis 1-0 Atletico: Performance of the season so far, as Atlético is shocked in Seville

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We returned to the deep, counter-attacking 3-3-2-1-1 we had faced Real and Barça with, now slightly fine-tuned after the lessons of those matches - we upped the defensive line, told the central CB to play as cover, the wider CBs to mark tighter, and the shadow striker was reduced to a normal AM/A so he wouldn't dribble all the time and squander possession. 

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It worked beautifully for the most rewarding match of the season so far. Atlético had chances, but we were even more dangerous on the counter and it eventually paid off. Sensationally, we had a penalty kick to make it 2-0 but Ruben Castro was having a shocker as he squandered it and again a clear chance minutes later. It didn't matter as we held on to the 1-0 win.

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Also pleasing is the fact we just leapt ahead of our local rivals in the table - one week before facing them in the first derby of the season.

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La Liga round 16
Betis 1-0 Sevilla: Inspired Leiva helps us to derby win

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Into the derby I decided to use the 4-1-2-1-2 with a IF - teenager Nahuel Leiva on the right wing.

It made not just for a very entertaining match as it also proved to be an inspired decision. He had a wonderful game being by far the most lively player on the pitch, and eventually scored the match's only goal after a brilliant chipped through ball by Rubén Pardo.

Afterwards the match changed shaped considerably as Sevilla went all with an attacking 3-4-3, whilst I reverted to the defensive 3-at-the-back formation I used against Atlético - Leiva as AM and then upfront as I took off Sanabria. We had more chances, even more so after Rami saw a red card so they were down to 10. It somehow ended only 1-0, but that's more than good enough for me.

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We're now on a 6 match unbeaten run in the league, and into European places. I wish we'd score more goals rather than nick 1-0 wins, but I'm quite enjoying this now.

Edited by noikeee
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La Liga round 17
Sporting Gijón 0-3 Betis: Young loanee forwards combine to devastating effect

(Gómez og 27, Kelly 37, 75)

For the past couple of weeks we have built a solid tactical foundation, so here came more of the same as we repeated the lineup and formation as against Sevilla - to revert later to the 3-at-the-back setup once we took a lead and Gijón opened up. Our two young forwards on loan stole the show. Kelly's deflected freekick - registered as OG - opened the scoresheet, whilst he was assisted twice later by Leiva in devastating runs from deep. We appear to be on top of our game now.
 

Copa del Rey 4th round leg 2
Betis 2-1 Levante (3-2 agg): Scrappy win fails to convince

(Alegría 33, Campaña og 47; Campaña 28)

This was pretty poor, the backups I picked for this match largely showing why they're backups. We should've beaten Levante comfortably, yet went a goal down and only a rare flash of inspiration from 3rd choice striker Alex Alegria, then a rebound after a freekick, put us in the next round of the cup.
 

La Liga round 18
Villarreal 2-0 Betis: Beaten by attrition in ugly match

(Cheryshev 8, Bruno 72)

We end the calendar year with a defeat as we failed in our test against a team in the Champions League places. This was an ugly, boring match with goals coming through unfashionable ways - their first through a mishit cross, and their second through a corner. In between Liam Kelly missed a penalty for us and we had more shots on target, but Villarreal deserved the win. Our 7 matches without defeat run comes to an end.

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We head into 2017 just outside the European places, as Málaga overtook us this round - incidentally Málaga are the next team we play against, in the next round of the cup.

Edited by noikeee
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A bit bizarre that I started this career just to chill not wanted to be locked in to any format, and have now ended up writting in depth about every single match. :D Doesn't seem to be a very popular format around, but I am enjoying writing this, bit of a break from my usual generic "oh we won most matches this month" etc.

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I don't mind it. It's nice to read about the games because just seeing a 1-0 anything could have happened. Of course I do the same on my thread so I'm not biased in the slightest :ackter:

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Copa del Rey 5th round leg 1
Málaga 2-0 Betis: Lapses of concentration put us halfway out of the cup

(Sandro 27, Keko 90)

This Andalusian derby played out very similarly to the recent defeat away to Villarreal - on our 3-at-the-back formation, we pretty much played as well as the opponents if not in a particularly inspired way, but they got the goals. 2 possession losses at the back created the 2 Málaga goals, and this is looking hard to overturn for the 2nd leg. The only positive is Dani Ceballos returned from injury.
 

La Liga round 19
Betis 3-1 Espanyol: Liam Kelly finds space between the lines

(Kelly 9, Sanabria 34, 85; Léo Baptistão 48)

A positive return to form after 2 defeats. We love facing sides that play 4-4-2 and Espanyol fit the profile, specially as they played most of the match on an "attacking" version of it - which is the kind that gives us most space. Liam Kelly thrived in it as false 9, showing up free on a low cross from Leiva to open the score, and then assisting Sanabria for the 2nd. Still, we wobbled a bit at the beginning of the 2nd half as they upped the aggression and got a goal in a corner, but as the 2nd half went on we regained control, and Sanabria scored a 2nd in a corner for us as well - registered as yet another Liam Kelly assist.
 

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We're back to an European slot, but it's incredibly tight from 5th to 8th and you'd expect Atlético, who are having a shocker of a season, to overtake us. Bielsa arrived with a bang to Sevilla as well, they're on 3 consecutive wins including one over Barça!

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Copa del Rey 5th round leg 2
Betis 4-0 Málaga (4-2 agg): Ceballos justifies "wonderkid" tag in big cup turnaround

(Ceballos 34, 56, Muñoz og 48, Castro 69)

Málaga came to Seville to sit on their 2 goal led and defend on a deep defensive 4-4-2 with 2 DMs. It did not go well for them. We struggled to get going, but after a little tactical adjustment - mirroring the tactic left-to-right to accomodate Joaquin better (who was playing for Leiva to rest), introducing a IWB, a CM/A, and making Jonas Martin a regista in the enormous space they gave us at the base of midfield - we seriously got going. Dani Ceballos finally proved why he's any good and opened the scoreline with a banger from outside the area, later he'd get a 2nd with a late run. We totally dominated and deserved to turn it all around.

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Espanyol are our quarter-final opponents and the winner of Atlético-Valencia in the semi-finals afterwards, if we go through.

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A low-key signing. And a not so low-key one.

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We begin the January transfer window with a nice, sensible, measured signing, poaching Sociedad's Gaztañaga for just 675K€. 

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He's a player that can do the job as BWM in either DM or MC positions (we use a BWM in our current main tactic as MC, and as DM in the plan B 3-at-the-back), and also covers for CB. He's not particularly any better than our #1 choice for BWM Petros, neither our CBs as he's a bit weak physically, but certainly adds depth for these position which we needed a little, specially since Ryan Donk's loan contract ends in 6 months (he's our 2nd choice BWM).
 

So of course I'd continue on this measured, sensible trend and... spend the rest of my entire transfer budget in one go, also giving this new player the highest wages in the team. And he's not even accomplished in any positions we're using in any tactic. What?

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My point in getting Cheryshev? He's bloody good and you don't pass on quality when you can afford it. He's also super versatile, which I love. I might not be using a left-winger right now, but can certainly imagine him doing even better than Leiva as IF on the right wing which is a position I had no cover for. And potentially as false 9 for next year, if I fail to extend Liam Kelly's loan. He can even fit in as a very attacking LWB/LB, which is what I imagine he could be playing 3, 4 seasons from now if we keep on improving our side more and more and get more attacking options. Beyond all that, he still adds depth to AMC. All hail the Russian.

Edited by noikeee
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La Liga round 20
Betis 3-0 Alavés: Uninspired performance results in comfortable win anyway

(Sanabria 9, Kelly 84, Bruno 90)

Unlike our recent free flowing showings, our players largely struggled to break down the opposition with any level of consistency in this match. We just kept on shooting from long, and were fortunate than one of those went in very early (Sanabria's 13th league goal of the season), giving us a lead that lasted for the whole match. Very late we finally found some room for some runs into space with a trademark Liam Kelly late arrival to the box resulting in the 2nd goal, and centerback Bruno added a 3rd in a corner as we headed into injury time. Unfortunately we lost left-back Riza Durmisi to injury, he will stop for 3 months.

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Is that Champions League places we see just ahead of us?

I mean.. we've been great at home but crap away from home. Still have to play Barça, Real and Atlético, 2 of those away from home, even. So, you'd think quite probably not, buuuuuuuut....?

Edited by noikeee
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21 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Good first half of the season.

Just dawned on me that it doesn't matter how good the season goes - there's no way I can improve on beat real life Betis without signing William Carvalho.

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Copa del Rey quarter final leg 1
Espanyol 1-0 Betis: Penalty puts us on the backfoot

(Piatti pen 68)

Yet again it was a fairly underwhelming first leg on the cup. We just about had more chances than Espanyol, but they put a little more aggressive pressure on the 2nd half and eventually this resulted in a goal, although the penalty seemed to come out of thin air, a Ryan Donk foul as he played on the backline under a CBs injury crisis. We have work to do in the 2nd leg.

 

La Liga round 21
Betis 2-2 Eibar: Early 2 goal lead squandered through insipid showing

(Kelly 13, 15; Lasso 26, Kike 82)

I wouldn't have expected our recent strong form in the league (5 wins in the last 6 matches) to be followed by a draw at home to last placed Eibar, but it did. We started great with 2 Liam Kelly goals out of sheer insistence after Sanabria created them by drifting out wide. Eibar got one back through a great long range goal, but we looked in control if not quite at our best. However as the 2nd half went on and we failed to kill the game, there was always a danger something could happen and it did - a cross out of nowhere, and bam, 2-2. Disappointing way to lose points.
 

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There's a mini Andalusian league building up from 6th to 8th, incredibly tight with 3 points separating the 3 of us, and we want to be the winners of that.

Edited by noikeee
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Copa del Rey quarter final leg 2
Betis 3-0 Espanyol (aet) (3-1 agg): Castro's extra-time goals puts us in semi-finals

(Sanabria 43, Castro 112, 119)

We walked onto the pitch pretty uninspired with a turgid first half hour with barely any shots. I tweaked things around and added a 4th central midfielder removing the IF - one player away from Espanyol's very well covered wings - and this worked, Sanabria tying the aggregate score on a cross by Cheryshev (who did fantastic as makeshift LB). However we then struggled to get the 2nd goal and it took us all of 112 minutes to pull it off. Veteran striker Rubén Castro shone off the bench and got 2 goals in the 2nd half of extra-time, one from a long through ball by Kelly and the other from a cross by Geraldes.

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La Liga round 22
Athletic 0-2 Betis: Solid defensive performance rewarded with excellent away win

(Castro pen 68, 81)

I wouldn't have expected a tired, rotated side after a 120 minute cup epic days earlier, to go away to a team 3rd in the league, and nick a win in quite possibly our best away from home performance all season. Somehow a trio of half-fit centerbacks kept them at bay - a little tweak to their marking settings might've helped, we've struggled recently against 4-2-3-1s and I tried to adapt -, and we looked fairly good on the counter. It paid off big time in the 2nd half, again that old man Rubén Castro with a brace, one from a penalty kick and the 2nd from open play on a Kelly assist.

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Next up: first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals against Atlético, the day the transfer window shuts. We might be in trouble in terms of squad planning for next season, I spent every single last cent on Cheryshev, and now there's no funds to bring in a forward on a free transfer deal that I quite want. Nevermind the 10M€ I wanted to splash on Liam Kelly's release clause. Maybe if we make the European competitions and the board is very very generous?

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The fans will hate me for this

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Joaquin's return to his beloved club ends in a fairly bitter way. I've been playing him less and less as his pace diminishes and he doesn't really fit any of the systems I want to play, though if I was arsed I would've found a way to use him, but why build my plans around him when he's only really an option on the short term. He's still gonna be here until the end of the season but then it's off back to Italy on a free, for what I believe will be his final season.

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Copa del Rey semi final leg 1
Betis 2-0 Atlético: Dream 2nd half puts us within touching distance of the final

(Castro 63, Sanabria 75)

Another cup match at home, another wonderful performance in the 2nd half. I knew we had a chance here as we had beat them in the league (and they play 4-4-2 which suits us), and we kept it tight at the back before half-time. Just about good enough, as then we delivered the punches after it. Sanabria was unplayable here, assisting Castro for the first (the veteran's on a great scoring streak), then scoring from a tight angle in the 2nd goal. By then we were up against 10 men after Savic saw a red card, and we did all we could to take the most advantage possible to Madrid.

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Hey look, a deadline day deal

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We get rid of our worst first team midfielder, who had barely played. Important because uh, we'd ran out of squad registration slots. And because we need any cash please so I can start moving in the market at all.

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La Liga round 23
Valencia 0-0 Betis: Attack-minded sides fail to produce chances

Playing away to a very talented Valencia side that has been underachieving badly in the league, I decided to go with my most attacking plan A (the 4-3-3 with 1 striker 1 false nine and 1 IF). It turned out to be a strange match with both teams playing to win yet not wanting to disposition themselves too much at the back, so neither team produced any real clear chances throughout the entire match, although there was always a sense that a goal could happen at either end. But it didn't - even if both Valencia and Betis met the woodwork.
 

Copa del Rey semi final leg 2
Atlético 4-1 Betis (4-3 agg): Better Atlético finishing keeps us out of cup final

(Torres 28, Correa 43, Partey 67, Griezmann 75; Castro 53)

Diego Simeone set out here in a very bold attacking 4-2-4 approach, and I thought it would play out into our hands, as we'd capitalize on the counter. Indeed, we were dangerous when we went upfront, the issue is Atlético, whilst ramming our defence through unsophisticated pure attack, took their chances. They had overcome the 2 goal defficit by half-time, then just after the break we looked better, kept more of the ball, and scored a wonderful just-out-of-the-area missile through Ruben Castro. I thought that was it, the away goal had sealed it, but then they took 2 goals in corner kicks and suddenly had the upper hand in the tie. Dani Ceballos still showed up well clear in front of Moya, but missed. By the end the 4-1 result was harsh on us, but reflected that the Atlético forwards had had a better day. We come just short of the cup final.
 

La Liga round 24
Betis 1-0 Las Palmas: Result hides bad day in which we were outplayed

(Martin 73)

Might look on paper like a nice routine 1-0 win over a side we should beat, but we were awful. Las Palmas outplayed us badly from minute 1, and we only got back into the match somewhat after a lot of tactical tweaking - they just kept walking the ball onto our half, and looking very dangerous through attacking fullbacks and runners from the midfield. A Nahuel Leiva low cross into a Jonas Martin run gave us the goal, and soon after a red card to a Las Palmas defender further opened up the match for us, which was frantic in the final minutes. Still, even with 10 men Las Palmas could've and should've scored - our goalie Antonio Adán was named man of the match which says it all.
 

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As you can see our last few matches have been a bit unconvincing, but we remain on an European places position. And now that we're out of the cup, although that was a big disappointment given the 2 goal lead we had over Atlético after the 1st leg, we can play a fully fit side more often in the league from now on. The downside is the calendar looks difficult - we're yet to play Real, Barça, Atlético away again, and Sevilla away.

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La Liga round 25
Betis 4-0 Real Sociedad: Open match gives Sanabria platform to shine

(Sanabria 17, 64, 86, Martin 46)

A fun afternoon at the Benito Villamarin saw Antonio Sanabria return to form with an impeccable hat-trick - he started the match as false 9 playing just off Ruben Castro and scored his first in that role, responding to a Geraldes cross; and later added a 2nd and 3rd as the most advanced forward, with a wonder long range missile and then through a Ceballos cross. Jonas Martin, another player on form scored the remaining goal. We were fun and free flowing although Sociedad looked very dangerous on the counter as well, but I kept the match going on like this anyway as it was working for us upfront.
 

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I wanted to post the league table to show off the fact that we've made the Champions League slots! And now without relying on any other team having games in hand over us. However this should be temporary as next week we're going to the Bernabéu...

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