Recently relegated Real Betis face Albion for the first time on 17th July. They finished bottom of La Liga on 26 points last season, leaving them 11 points adrift from any other team and 15 points from safety.
Having led Betis to Europa League qualification six months earlier, Pepe Mel [who went on to coach West Bromwich Albion] was sacked in December following a dismal run of results, with Gabriel Calderon filling the hotseat. The season which had started positively, taking the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid on the opening day of the season, only to succumb to defeat five minutes from time via an Isco goal.
Then, they breezed through their Europa League qualifier with an 8-1 aggregate demolition of Czech side Jablonec. They then picked up their first league win of the campaign with a 3-1 defeat of Valencia. A draw against Lyon meant they got their Europa
League group phase of to a decent start, and won again in La Liga on 29th September, the opposition being Villarreal – who Albion faced last pre-season.
However, the disastrous dip in form resulted in them not winning another league game until February. In fact, they only managed to pick up three points during that spell, with draws against Levante, Rayo Vallecano and Real Valladolid. Although a run to the last 16 in Europe, only to fall on penalties to eventual winners Sevilla, provided a distraction, an early exit in the Copa Del Rey did not do much help.
Unfortunately, form failed to pick up significantly after the dreadful run ended, and Betis only managed three league wins from then on. They ended the season by losing seven of their final eight games. After Calderon’s resignation at the end of the season, 32-year-old Julio Velazquez has been handed the reins.
There is not much transfer news to speak about for Betis, other than Juanfran recently turning down the chance to play in England with Middlesbrough, where he would have linked up with Aitor Karenka, who he knew from his time at Real Madrid.
The Andalusian side, however, have lost former Wigan centre-back Antonio Amaya. The 31-year-old had spent three years with Betis before returning to former club Rayo Vallecano.