Admission to the Europa League is often seen as a both blessing and a curse. With the lofty league finish comes the opportunity to face off against some of Europe’s best.
But with such a privilege usually comes the sacrifice of league form. Few teams are able to balance the two successfully, and Real Betis are no exception.
Only year ago, fans had to be peeled off the ceiling after a seventh-place finish having only recently been promoted. But, 12 months on, the Andalusia side will compete again in the Liga Adalente.
Betis finished rock bottom of La Liga and were relegated in April. Two managerial sacking in as many months didn’t do much to help matters. First Pepe Mel, who guided Betis to their top 7 finish left and was subsequently recruited by West Bromwich Albion. He paid the price of overachieving, with the club only returning to La Liga in 2011.
However, the loss of Pepe Mel was the first bump on a long fall down the league ladder. Less than 50 days later, Juan Carlos Garrido met his untimely demise. Even Gabriel Calderon, the man who has seen out the past few months of Betis’ season has left, meaning a search for their fourth manager in six months.
Whilst their league for suffered, they flourished in Europe. But their European glory in lieu of La Liga security saw them pay the ultimate price. Having advanced from the qualifying stages, they finished second in their group and advanced to the round of 32.
They bested Rubin Kazan, however they went on to encounter cross city rivals Sevilla. A narrow loss on penalties saw them exit to competition to the eventual winners. Watching cross-city rivals endure similar circumstances and emerge eventual winners must have been difficult; however it is a prime example of how to balance domestic and European football.
For a clubs such as Sevilla, the balance is easier due to their squad’s size and quality. For Betis, a club that have been yo-yoing in and out of La Liga, their squad is much thinner, especially with the loss of key players such as Benat, Joel Campbell and Jose Canas.
By this point, they had already played 10 games in the Europa League and 29 in La Liga, where they remained firmly rooted to the bottom of the table.
In fact, Betis never finished a game week higher than 11th and spent 26 weeks at the bottom of the table. They went on a 14-game winless streak which saw them handcuffed to the bottom.
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