The game started out as expected with Real Betis controlling the majority of possession, particularly in the middle third circulating the ball between Guardado, Boudebouz and Fabian. Leganes throughout the game, put Betis under immense pressure but they were able to comfortably play around them. The hero of the night was returning club record goalscorer Ruben Castro in his first appearance since his time in China.
Real Betis broke the deadlock in the 20th minute. Mauro dos Santos failed to control a back pass, which allowed Sergio Leon to take full advantage. The Spanish striker went through on goal and saw his shot to the left-hand bottom corner saved by Ivan Cuellar. Luckily for Betis, Christian Tello was on hand to turn the ball into the net and continue his recent good form. Real Betis 1-0 Leganes
Betis’ control of the ball in their own half was made easier by the fact Javi Garcia, a defensive midfielder was playing centre back. The composure of the Betis players on the ball was certainly something to be admired. When in possession in the defensive third, Garcia and Amat played as a two. The full backs pushed high and wide while one midfielder – usually Guardado – dropped to create an out-ball option. Often starting attacks with a 2-4-3-1 formation, Betis created a number of opportunities from such situations.
In the opening half, Leganes posed very little threat to the home side. Any potential attacks they created were intensely suffocated by Betis players swarming around the ball. The home side pressed up high on Leganes when coming out of defence. In doing this however, once Leganes got passed the first phase, there were great opportunities for counter attacks. A reoccurring problem for Real Betis all season.
Nordin Amrabat clearly felt he had the beating of Francis, having shot wide from a good opportunity on 14 minutes. The Moroccan could be seen encouraging his teammates to give him the ball more as a result. This really didn’t turn out to be the case as Francis certainly got the upper hand on the winger overall.
With all of the possession-based football played by Real Betis, their second goal was anything but. 36 year old Joaquin raced onto a long ball down the field by goalkeeper Antonio Adan. The Spaniard then ran through on goal and finished passed Cuellar’s floppy left hand. Real Betis 2-0 Leganes
An unexpected goal form Leganes came just before the break. Gumbau casually picked up the ball 25-30 yards from goal following rare ball retention in Betis’s third. Leganes’ No. 6 then let fly with his left boot. Adan was helpless in goal as the ball crashed in off the post. Real Betis 2-1 Leganes
There were shouts for handball against Fabian inside his own box after 50 minutes. Truly sticking to Quique Setien’s philosophy, Guardado won the ball back, did a Cruyff turn and lobbed it across his own box to Fabian. The Spanish under 21 star, with the assistance of video evidence – clearly hit the ball with his arm – but Betis got away unscathed.
Sergio Leon latched onto an inch-perfect lobbed-pass over the top of Leganes’ defence on the 56th minute. He controlled with one touch but showed too much of the ball to the goalkeeper. An incredible pass from Guardado however and well worth reviewing. Vividly disappointed with himself, Leon should have made more of the opportunity.
Victor Camarasa came on for Ryad Boudebouz on the 65th minute. The Algerian didn’t have his best game for Betis and looks somewhat lost in the middle of the park at times. Setien for some reason, prefers to see his No. 10 in the middle; a contrast from his time as a winger in France. His stats with Montpellier suggest Setien should revisit this idea however.
Betis lack of defensive shape often leads to them facing 3v3 or even 2v2 situations at times. It was from one of these situations that saw Leganes steal a second goal on the 70th minute. Nordin Amrabat held the ball up as he faced Betis’ two centre backs coming towards him and slipped in Javi Eraso. The 27 year old Spaniard then carried the ball through, shot, collected the rebound off Adan and tucked it away. Real Betis 2-2 Leganes
In an effort to go on and win the game, Setien brought on club record goalscorer Ruben Castro for Sergio Leon after 75 minutes. Just a few minutes later, the fan favourite had the opportunity to raise the Villamarin. Following an extended period of possession from Real Betis, Fabian’s cross from the right hit the extended arm of Amrabat. The referee gave a resulting penalty. Following a return to Seville from his time in China, Castro calmly side footed the penalty into the bottom right hand corner. Real Betis 3-2 Leganes
Leganes nearly drew level once more in the 87th minute following a free kick form Raul Garcia. Joseba Zaldua met the floating cross but was unable to get enough power behind his header. Adan was more than comfortable picking up the ball inside his own six yard box.
Following on from the Seville derby win, Betis are now 7th in the table and continue winning ways. With a genuine chance of qualifying for Europe still on the cards, Betis will need to assess their defensive frailties. Their transition from defence to attack is second to none. Going from attack to defence is abysmal at times however. With Setien seemingly unwilling/unable to coach his team to transition smoothly from attack to defence, a very competent deep defensive midfielder may be required. The performance of cantera product Francis was very promising for Betis and should really push Barragan for a regular starting position. Ruben Castro received a hero’s welcome and the Beticos will be hoping he extends his record as the clubs top goalscorer. Up next is the intriguing visit of unbeaten Barcelona at home in La Liga for Real Betis on Sunday.
Having been down 2-0 away from home against a team dominating the ball, Leganes will be satisfied with how they fought their way back into the game. They continually pressed Betis and tried to allow them as little room as possible. The two penalty decisions will be a frustration for the visiting side however. One not given (Fabian’s handball) and the other given (Amrabat’s handball). Leganes face a difficult task in their next game also as they entertain Real Madrid in Copa del Rey on Thursday.