There's something particularly depressing about watching your football team when you really don't believe they're ever going to score. Tonight Betis had plenty of possession - at least in the first hour - but didn't move the ball with enough speed or imagination to stretch the Espanyol defence. So, once ex-Bético Sergio Garcia had scored with a lucky volley that went through Paulao's legs and off a post in the 7th minute - a goal which, by the way, he celebrated like he'd just won free shampoo for life - the game became a real uphill struggle for the visitors. And they got worse as anxiety set in, so all in all it wasn't a great evening.
You can see Pepe Mel's dilemma. If he plays three in the centre of midfield, he leaves Jorge Molina on his own upfront, which on current form is to diminish the team's goal threat significantly. But if he gives him a partner - which he did from an hour on, with Juan Carlos coming on to play left-wing and Pabón moving into the centre - that hands the midfield initiative to the opposition. Molina missed another clear chance today, when a lovely Nono chip landed at his feet and he whiffed the volley, but it's also true that he's not getting much help. Campbell and Pabón are miles away from him on the wings, and Beñat hasn't looked comfortable in the advanced midfield role either. We miss Rubén Castro, obviously, but Salva Sevilla too. The team simply isn't working properly now.
Espanyol were nothing special themselves, and apart from a couple of decent penalty shouts for either side, not a lot happened after the opening few salvos.But Betis did look particularly poor after the substitutions started, giving the ball away with alarming frequency and singularly failing to put the home goal under pressure. Unlike last Monday, when Joel Campbell was outstanding, tonight no players emerged with much credit. The shoddiness was pretty much shared around.
Pepe Mel is reportedly taking the whole squad away for a two-day training camp on Thursday - but on this showing, a trip to Lourdes might be a better suggestion. It's not improvement we need right now, it's a cure.
Betis: Adrián; Chica, Amaya, Paulao (Perquis, m. 86), Nacho; Rubén Pérez, Beñat, Nono (Juan Carlos, m. 59); Pabón (Ángel, m. 83), Jorge Molina y Campbell.
Goal: 1-0, m. 7: Sergio García