8th September 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Ending last season in an unsatisfactory 15th place, having sacked both Gus Poyet and Victor Sanchez, while losing 19 and only winning 10 of their 38 La Liga matches, Real Betis knew drastic change was needed ahead of the 2017/2018 campaign. And plenty of change has been accordingly made, as the club's new direction is taking on a very exciting form.

Bringing in former Las Palmas manager, Quique Setien, was indeed a fine place to start, for he sets his team up to play a hugely exciting and entertaining brand of football using his positional play methodology. Then came the arrivals and departures with the club shipping out 20 players and signing 10, in order to rejuvenate the squad and refresh it for Setien's demands.

Highlighted by the captures of Victor Camarasa, Ryad Boudebouz, Cristian Tello, Javi Garcia, Sergio León, Andres Guardado, Joel Campbell and Antonio Barragan, expectations are high that the new look Betis side can achieve far greater things than last season. "We were convinced that we had to change the situation because there were many doubts and in football when you start to doubt, it's very difficult to get back on track", stated Betis vice-president, Lorenzo Serra Ferrer.

Ferrer then went onto add that while his new arrivals are excellent, he doesn't expect such a huge scale exodus in personnel to be a regular occurrence, noting: "20 players left and 10 have arrived, all with a good and adequate profile. Hopefully, though, we will never have to let 20 players leave again."

Angel Haro, the club's chairman would later express his happiness at what's been a tremendous navigation of the transfer market. "I'm very satisfied with the squad we have this year. We have used all the money we had and I think we have a balanced team. There's a balance between national and foreign players. Most of them know what Betis is, and that's important so they don't have to spend much time adapting themselves," he said.

After such a busy window, the on-field signs have importantly been positive at this early stage. Despite losing their opening game to Barcelona 2-0, Setien's men put in a splendid showing in their second match of the campaign against Celta Vigo, where there were many aspects of his tactical philosophy present, particularly on the attacking end.

Instructing his side to pass out from the back in customarily ambitious fashion, the two centre backs would split and make room for holding midfielder, Javi Garcia, to drop deep and form a three chain vs Celta's front two. However, with Juan Carlos Unzue's defensive man orientations, Garcia often had to move smartly to draw a press and then use wall passes to play around the pressure. With the fullbacks providing width and more advanced central midfielders in Camarasa and Guardado performing rotations with wingers, Francis Guerrero and Joaquin, Betis did a nice job of manipulating the Galicians' defensive structure.

Moreover, possessing a strong central presence, usually created by an infield drifting winger and an advancing central midfielder, plus with the help of striker Leon, gave them a tidy platform to slickly combine in dangerous central attacking areas. Indeed, they often formed something resembling a mix between a 4-1-2-2-1/3-4-2-1, and other permutations, when building out from the back, which in combination with their ideal spacing for ball progression, saw them look very impressive in this phase of the game. Extra elements Setien would have enjoyed came from the use of the overload to isolate principle, the centre backs dribbling forward to draw an opposing midfielder out of slot and the way they used depth runs to stretch the defence.

The fact Real Betis ran out eventual 2-1 victors would've filled the buzzing crowd inside the Estadio Benito Villamarin with much optimism for the crusade ahead, as would've the way they were already moving the ball with such conviction and purpose, with a keen eye towards penetration.

Numbers stating the Andalusian outfit have sold roughly 50,000 season tickets, which is believed to be a club record, duly illustrates how captivated and supportive the fans are of this new project.

Bedding in a new system usually always has its challenges and setbacks to begin with, but it's been impressive to see how well the former Las Palmas boss has his team playing at this early stage.

Let's just hope he can keep it up, for, as we've seen in the past, it doesn't take long for the pressure to mount at Betis when things start to go wrong.

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