Setien and Sarabia – The men behind Betis’ crazy season

There has been a lot written recently about Real Betis and in particular their Coach Quique Setien.

The club from Seville have gained a reputation for being one of the most fun to watch in La Liga, having taken part in several goal-laden matches this term.

They also notched up a 0-1 win away to Real Madrid before falling 3-5 in the return fixture in February.

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In total, 12 of their league matches have featured four goals or more and they are currently the sixth highest scoring team in the league.

On the flip side, only two teams have let in more goals that Setien’s men, perhaps explaining why they are sat plum in the middle of La Liga in tenth place.

A growing group of admirers

Before taking the reins in Andalusia, the Cantabrian technician gained plenty of admirers by the way he revitalised Las Palmas, leading them to an 11th-place finish playing some scintillating football along the way.

He also led the Canary Islanders to their first top-flight win on the Spanish mainland since 2001 during his short spell at the club.

Their second season ended in a slump but by that time it was known that he was leaving.

During his six years at Lugo, he also gained a reputation for deploying a brand of football that was easy on the eye, and was in charge of the Galician side when they played out a 6-6 draw with Numancia.

He led the team, sometimes referred to as ‘Lugopool’ back to the second tier of Spanish football for only the second time in their history and kept them there despite the club being stung with huge admin charges, as league rules demanded they converted to SAD status.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Los Beticos have become a favourite team with football punters looking to back high goal counts in matches – although their reputation has caused prices to shorten little.

For example, on March 1, 2018 football betting site Betway was offering 7/5 that their home match against Real Sociedad would produce more than 3-5 goals.

The right-hand man

Since becoming a top-flight coach, Setien has kept the same man by his side.

His assistant, Eder Sarabia, is the son of former Athletic Bilbao legend Manu Sarabia, who just happened to be playing at Logrones at the same time as Setien in the late 1980s.

The two have been close friends ever since and, and as well as teaming up with his son in the dugout, Setien is also represented by Manu’s daughter, Oihane, off the field.

Eder never quite had his father’s talent and spent most of his playing career in the third division of Spanish football with Arenas de Getxo and Leio.

As a result, he focused his attention on coaching, first in Bilbao and later at Villarreal where he impressed in charge of the C and B teams.

He also enjoyed a spell coaching at one of Real Madrid’s academies in the Dominican Republic.

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A formidable duo

When the call from Quique Setien came following his appointment at Las Palmas, Sarabia wasted no time in heading off to the Canary Islands.

Since then the two have developed a reputation for wringing the best out of threadbare squads and modest resources while providing some great entertainment.

Meawhile, his 37-year-old Basque assistant looks all set to carve out a career of his own and it would be no surprise to see him given a chance at a top flight club in the near future.

Where that will be is unclear but he certainly left Villarreal and Las Palmas on good terms, suggesting that he understands the importance of leaving doors open in the fickle world of football.

Selected Real Betis results from the 2017/18 season
  • Real Madrid 0-1 Real Betis
  • Real Betis 4-0 Levante
  • Real Sociedad 4-4 Real Betis
  • Real Betis 3-6 Valencia
  • Real Betis 3-5 Cádiz
  • Sevilla 3-5 Real Betis
  • Real Betis 0-5 Barcelona
  • Real Betis 3-5 Real Madrid

Betis look all set to retain their La Liga status which has been their main objective each year since returning to the top flight in 2015.

But this year things are different, this time they are having fun under the guidance of two quintessentially Spanish coaches.

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