Football Travel: Real Betis

Real Betis from Seville’s southern suburbs offers a lively experience. I went down to the Benito Villamarín stadium to witness a club where optimism outstrips expectation.

A couple of miles south of Seville’s historical centre off a grey arterial road you will find the concrete hulk of the Estadio Benito Villamarín. It might not be the prettiest of grounds, but this horseshoe-shaped arena can hold 52,500. It gets pretty noisy, even when just two-thirds full, which it often is – this season’s average attendance is around 37,000. [Continues…]

Estadio Benito Villamarin

In the gods at the Estadio Benito Villamarín

Real Betis Balompié was formed in 1907 and has won just one La Liga trophy, way back in 1934-35, and the Copa del Rey twice. The name ‘Betis’ derives from the old Roman name for Seville’s river, the Guadalquivir. Balompié is the Spanish for ‘football’, although usually the simpler term fútbol is more widely used. Betis received its royal (hence ‘Real’) patronage from King Alfonso XIII just seven years into its existence, and the club’s green and white shirts reflect the colours of the Andalucian flag, the Spanish region of which Seville is capital.

In 1998, the club broke the world transfer record with the £21.5 million purchase of Brazilian winger Denilson, but has experienced fluctuating fortunes in the 21st Century. Meanwhile, cross-city rivals Sevilla FC has won four Europa Leagues in that time, plus a host of domestic silverware. [Continues…]

   

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The experience at Real Betis

The online ticketing facility wasn’t working for me the week before the match, so I queued at the stadium taquilla (ticket office) and paid €30 to sit high in the open Fondo area. You could sit wherever you pleased and there are some great views over the Seville skyline from the very top.

There is a Spanish saying that goes ‘La lluvia en Sevilla es una maravilla’ – the rain in Seville is a marvel. That is until you sit out in the cold drizzle of the Fondo at Real Betis.

Still, it made for a slick passing surface for Betis against Basque newcomers SD Eibar. I had the honour of sitting near the small pocket of Eibar fans who’d made their way down to Seville, which made for interesting viewing.

The crowd – initially vocal – were quickly silenced by two early Eibar goals. The whistling and sarcastic clapping continued as Betis floundered with a sluggish game.

Eibar played a compact game combined with slick counter attacking and ran out 4-0 winners, the fourth goal being particularly impressive.

How to get to Real Betis’ Estadio Benito Villamarín

Named after the president who purchased the ground, the Estadio Benito Villamarín is best accessed from the centre of town by walking or catching the bus down the Paseo de la Palmera.

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The nearest station is Virgen del Rocío, a 15-minute walk away, if coming from Seville’s main Santa Justa station.

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