Youngsters breathe life back into Real Betis

Real Betis Real Betis this season have won many friends with their daring brand of attacking, free-flowing football. The Seville-based club have been in a series of thrilling matches that have contained an entertainingly high level of chaos and end-to-end football. Yet while Quique Setien should be commended for his role since his summer appointment, his biggest success to date has been integrating youth team players into his side. The Betis B team play in Spain’s regionalised third tier and they have acted as a sterling production line for the first-team squad this season. Eight players have formed part of the matchday squad after being hand-picked by Setien, who has made monitoring youth teams and player development as a priority. It is a fitting approach for a club who are captained by the iconic Joaquin – the 36-year-old winger has been in fine form and remains one of the league’s most popular players. The most notable graduate has been the energetic central midfielder Fabian Ruiz, who has essentially replaced his predecessor Dani Ceballos in the side. Ceballos, another youth team graduate, was the rising star at the club but Real Madrid pipped a number of other leading European clubs to his signature last summer after a starring role in the European Under-21 Championships. Fabian – who spent last season on loan at Elche – has stepped into the box-to-box midfield role with aplomb and has attracted interest from other clubs, before committing his long-term future to the club in January. Dominican defender Junior Firpo and converted-winger Francis Guerrero have both occupied the full-back slots in recent weeks, chosen ahead of Riza Durmisi and Antonio Barragan respectively. Neither defender had shown particularly patchy form, yet due to rotational purposes both B team players were afforded their opportunity and have been persisted with since. Striker Loren Moron, 24, had netted 16 goals in 23 appearances for the B team this campaign and was handed his first-team debut against Villarreal in February. He netted both goals in a 2-1 victory, then scored the only goal a week later in a 1-0 win at Deportivo. Promising attacking midfielder Juanjo Narvaez, Julio Gracia and forward Aitor Ruibal have all been afforded game-time in La Liga too, with young shot-stopper Pedro Lopez, Cameroonian midfielder Wilfred Kaptoum – signed from Barcelona B – and defender Redru have all been named in league matchday squads. The philosophy of youth reinvigorates a squad, keeps first-team members on their toes and energised, while keeping young players motivated and with the sense of having something to prove. Setien’s policy is refreshing and has breathed life back into the Andalucian giants.

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