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01/20/2014
 

Gabriel Humberto Calderon has been appointed the new manager of La Liga's bottom side Real Betis after the club announced the sacking of Juan Carlos Garrido on Sunday.


The 53-year-old Argentine played for Betis between 1983 and 1987 and arrives having most recently taken charge of the Bahrain national team.


"Humberto Calderon is the new coach of Real Betis Balompie," said a statement on the club's website.


"The coach, who arrived in Seville this evening, has already signed a contract for the rest of the season and an extra season should the club stay up."


Garrido was sacked after winning just twice in 10 games in charge during his two-month long spell in charge.


However, both victories came in the Copa del Rey and after being eliminated in that competition by Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, their 5-0 thrashing at home to Real Madrid on Saturday was the final straw as it left Los Verdiblancos eight points off safety.


It is the second time this season that Betis have sacked their coach after also dismissing recently appointed West Bromwich Albion manager Pepe Mel in December.

 
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01/18/2014
 
Real Madrid moved level on points with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga with a 5-0 hammering of bottom-placed Real Betis on Saturday. Cristiano Ronaldo continued his fantastic week after lifting the Ballon d'Or on Monday with a thumping long-range drive to open the scoring before Gareth Bale silenced his recent critics with a trademark free-kick to make it 2-0.

Karim Benzema then notched his 100th goal for Madrid in first-half stoppage time as he blasted home after classy play from Luka Modric. Angel di Maria made it four just after the hour mark with another stunning effort from distance and Alvaro Morata rounded off the scoring in stoppage time. All three leading clubs are now tied on 50 points, but Barca and Atletico can move back in front when then face Levante and Sevilla respectively on Sunday.


Bale had struggled since his return from a calf injury at the beginning of the year with coach Carlo Ancelotti even admitting on Friday that the Welshman could do better. The former Spurs man started brightly on the right side of the Madrid attack, but it was once again Ronaldo who stole the show as he opened the scoring 10 minutes in with a thunderous drive from 25 yards out that flew into the top left-hand corner of Stephan Andersen's net.


Ronaldo nearly had another memorable goal to add to his collection 10 minutes later as he skipped past two Betis defenders before firing across the face of the goal. The visitors didn't have to wait long to double their advantage, though, as Bale did make his mark with a dipping free-kick on 25 minutes that beat the stationary Andersen, although the Danish keeper should have done better.


Ruben Castro missed a wonderful opportunity to pull a goal back for the hosts when he failed to connect with Leo Baptistao's fine low cross six minutes before half-time. Instead, it was Madrid who struck again before the break as Modric continued his fantastic form of late with a wonderful piece of composed play inside the box to tee up Benzema to fire home at the near post.


Andersen redeemed himself somewhat at the start of the second period as he made a fine low save to his right to prevent Ronaldo doubling his tally and also turned away a fiercely struck effort from Benzema. However, there was nothing the Betis keeper could do to prevent Di Maria making it four as he arrowed a low left-footed drive from 30 yards into the bottom corner. And Betis's afternoon was summed up in stoppage time when Morata nipped in to prod past Andersen as the home defense appealed in vain for offside.

 
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01/13/2014
 
Hope was the prevailing mood in the stands of the Benito Villamarín prior to kickoff. The first home league match of the new year would surely see Real Betis spring into action and begin their rise from the bottom of the table. Sí, se puede!" (Yes, we can!) read the message on the new electronic screen above Gol Sur. This was to be the home side’s day.

And then Osasuna opened the scoring in the second minute.

It was a simple goal, born from three defensive errors. Marc Bertran was given all the time in the world to measure a cross into the box from the right, goalkeeper Stephan Andersen stayed rooted to his line when he surely should have claimed and Juanfran was inattentive at the far post, allowing Roberto Torres to get in front of him to head home from close range.

It was the sort of goal that knocks the stuffing out of a team and a stadium.

The response was decent, with new loan signing Leo Baptistao twice forcing Osasuna goalkeeper Andres Fernandez to tip over, but that brightness soon petered out. Betis were slow and unimaginative in possession, with little movement in the final third. Osasuna were comfortably able to repel their attacks.

The situation was even worse at the other end of the pitch. Betis were woefully passive and disorganized out of possession, with Osasuna given time and space to plan and execute their attacks. When Osasuna broke quickly, the home side’s two central midfielders were left, undermanned, to defend a huge area of the pitch and both were booked for necessary fouls. It came as no surprise when Nono was dismissed, albeit very harshly, for a second bookable offense before the interval.

The horror show continued after half time, with substitute Jordi Figueras producing one of the worst fifteen minutes of football in memory. Booked two minutes into the half, he then put through his own net to double the away side’s lead and could easily have conceded a penalty moments later when he appeared to drag down an Osasuna forward.

Betis were offered a reprieve when Ruben Castro was brought down inside the area by Fernandez just past the hour mark, leading to the dismissal of the Osasuna goalkeeper. But on a day when everything that possibly could have gone wrong for the Verdiblancos did, it was no surprise to see the resulting penalty bounce off the crossbar and away to safety.

Betis created a few chances thereafter and pulled one back with a well-worked move finished by Jorge Molina, but there could be no hiding from a poor performance and a result that leaves them even further adrift at the bottom of the table.

As the match wore on, the hope of the crowd turned into frustration, then anger. The players were roundly abused at full time, told to “get off” and “go away,” among other less publishable utterances. But as they funnelled out of the stadium the anger had mainly subsided into acceptance of the club’s position and their likely plight: relegation.

The decision to sack the popular and, until this season at least, successful Pepe Mel (now of West Bromwich Albion) and replace him with former Villarreal coach Juan Carlos Garrido looks, on early evidence, a poor decision. Garrido was tactically outmanoeuvred by his Osasuna counterpart Javi Gracia on Sunday and Betis have now lost, at home, to fellow relegation candidates in two of his first three league matches in charge.

Over the past 15 seasons, 10 of the teams who have occupied last place in the table at the midway point of the season have gone on to be relegated. Betis’ current tally of 11 points is the fourth lowest in the period and none of the three teams with lower tallies went on to survive. Some optimism could, however, be gleaned from the case of Real Zaragoza, who beat the drop in the 2011-12 season despite accumulating just a point more than Betis in the first half of the campaign.

The points total required for survival over the same 15-season period fell between 37 and 44 points. Based on this, Betis would need to accumulate points at a rate of somewhere between 1.37 and 1.74 per match over the remaining 19 matches of the season in order to survive. The latter is top four form if extrapolated over an entire season, which seems a tall order for a team lacking confidence or direction.

“Technically, tactically and physically, the team is a mess,” wrote Javier Merida in a scathing report for El Diario de Sevilla. Real Madrid are the next visitors to the Benito Villamarín and although Betis gave them a good game away in Madrid on the first day of the season and triumphed in the equivalent fixture last season, there was little of the vitality of those performances evident on Sunday afternoon. As Merida puts it: “This Betis lacks Betis: a soul.”
 
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