Things might have gone a bit pear-shaped in Madrid this season, but for the Real of Seville, Betis, this truly has been a La Liga campaign to cherish so far.
Coach Pepe Mel readily admits a tally of 25 points from the club’s first 14 matches of the season was beyond their wildest dreams in the summer.
Betis sit in fourth in their second season back in the top flight thanks to an entertaining 3-2 win at Deportivo La Coruna to follow last weekend’s shock 1-0 victory over Real Madrid.
The latest victory saw Real Betis’ odds of finishing in the top four slashed to 9/2 from 9/1 and given that no team outside of Barcelona and the two Madrid powers has established any real rhythm this season, that still seems a fair price.
Anyone joining bwin.com today can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on Betis to finish in the top four would return £110 if successful.
The key to the Betis success story so far has been a penchant for confident, counter-attacking football.
Striker Ruben Castro is a dependable goal threat – his eight goals this season place him among the leading goalscorers from the mere mortals of La Liga – namely those who aren’t Radamel Falcao, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.
The young talent of Joel Campbell personified the hint of flair in the Betis attack at the weekend, as the Costa Rican, on loan from Arsenal, struck a beautiful late winner from outside the penalty area.
Their attacking swagger has overcome some defensive worries, but if Los Verdiblancos are to mount a serous challenge for the top four then things will surely have to tighten up at the back. The 24 goals that Mel’s team have conceded are more than basement club Espanyol.
Any punters interested in backing the club for Champions League qualification won’t have to wait long for a real glimpse of how good they are, as Barcelona are the visitors to the Benito Villamarin this weekend.
The Catalans demolished Athletic Bilbao 5-1 at the weekend and are now a mere 3/25 to win the La Liga title in May, with Real Madrid still 11 points adrift of their unbeaten rivals despite a 2-0 win over second-placed Atletico Madrid at the Bernabeu.