"Ernesto Valverde is a great coach," said Manuel Pellegrini, Betis coach, in the preview of the clash against Athletic at the Benito Villamarín (DAZN, 19.15).
The break for the World Cup in Qatar is already history and the sixth classified, Betis, face off against the fourth, Athletic.
Both, with 24 points and in the middle of the fight for the Champions League at this point in the League.
Both, moreover, led by two coaches with great potential, Manuel Pellegrini and Ernesto Valverde, who meet again in LaLiga almost a decade after the last time.
It was April 20, 2013 and then Pellegrini was at Málaga and Valverde at Valencia.
Valverde's team won 5-1 with a Valencia where Canales, Víctor Ruiz and Guardado played, all three now at Betis.
Joaquín, the eternal Bético captain, lined up at Málaga.
The match symbolizes, therefore, the validity and vitality of two coaches whose proposal is still latent beyond passing through some of the biggest teams in European football.
In the case of Pellegrini, Madrid or Manchester City, while Valverde was the coach of the last great Barcelona.
The two have shown that there is life beyond the greats.
The consensus in Seville is absolute regarding the essential role of Pellegrini in the transformation of the Verdiblanco team.
Ranked 15th in the 2019-20 season, Betis has been linked to two qualifications for the Europa League (sixth and fifth place), and is also the current Copa del Rey champion.
Last year he fought until the end for a place in the Champions League with Sevilla.
In this course, Pellegrini has continued to make a team competitive that overcame the important injuries to Juanma and Fekir and a problem with the registration of their signings to go first in the group in the Europa League and be on the lookout for the positions of the Champions League.
By Txetxu Rojo
With a contract until 2025, Pellegrini's impact has been very important: he is the coach with the highest percentage of First Division victories in the entity's history and the only coach who has classified him twice in a row for a European competition, also winning a title .
Besides, Betis is a team that plays almost by heart.
He combines pressure in the opposite field with waiting for the rival behind and the idea is always to keep possession of the ball to look for the attack.
Betis arrives with many players in the rival camp and their system is a fairly flexible 4-2-3-1.
Above, Borja Iglesias is the top scorer with 8 goals out of the 17 the team has scored in the League.
Wanted by Atlético de Madrid, Pellegrini referred yesterday to the mattress interest in his player: “It's all speculation and rumours.
He is focused on what he has to do here.
At the moment he is in charge of doing his work here.
We'll see in the future."
The Verdiblanco team faces a tough return to competition, in which they will alternate between the League, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup as current Cup champions.
Valverde replaced the Chilean in 2009 at Villarreal.
Since then, he has directed Olympiacos, Valencia, Athletic (second stage) and Barcelona.
He was the last great coach of the Catalan giant, with whom he won two Leagues (2018 and 2019) and a Cup (2018).
Sentenced for not winning the Champions League, Barça has not found stability since their goodbye.
Valverde's Athletic is having a great season.
What most attracts the attention of this team is their great forward pressing, which allows them to steal very high and be close to the rival area.
Athletic, with 24 goals, is the third top scorer in the First Division after Barcelona and Madrid (both with 33).
A very versatile Athletic who changes his tactical drawing depending on the game and who is not as rigid as Marcelino, the previous coach, with his immovable 4-4-2.
With Guruzeta now starting as a forward, escorted by the Williams brothers and World Cup players, Athletic wants to dedicate the victory against Betis to Txetxu Rojo, who died on December 23.
"There are many reasons to win against a very technical and talented Betis," admitted Valverde.
Pellegrini and Valverde have met eight times, with three wins each and two draws as background.
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