Saturday afternoon saw Swansea entertain La Liga newcomers Real Betis in their final pre-season game before making their Premier League bow against Man City next weekend. Having beaten three Welsh sides already this week Pepe Mel’s side should have been full of confidence going into the game.
After delivering a stand out performance at left back against Celtic, Alan Tate was moved into the heart of The Swans defence to partner Ashley Williams against Betis, due to the absence of Steven Caulker.
After coming off the bench to score Swansea’s second goal against Celtic in mid-week, Stephen Dobbie was deservedly amongst the starting XI on Saturday meaning Joe Allen had to settle for a place on the bench.
Having finalised his move to Swansea on Friday, Wayne Routledge was among the substitutes along with fellow new recruit Leroy Lita.
It took just two minutes for the home side to create their first chance of the game as Stephen Dobbie’s perfectly weighted ball forward found Scott Sinclair, and after making a surging run into the area the England Under 21 international forced a great save from Betis keeper Casto, who had to fully stretch to deny the winger of the opening goal.
Stephen Dobbie was involved in the majority of the home sides chances, with his instinctive balls forward as well as having a great eye for goal, Dobbie looked dangerous with each attack and it was The Scot who had Swansea’s next goal scoring opportunity. With a movement stemming from an inch perfect distribution from Ashley Williams out to Rangel, the right back combined with Dyer before picking out Dobbie inside the box. However the former Rangers forward failed to find the target from 12 yards out.
Swansea, who were enjoying the better spells in possession came close again with 15 minutes played, as Danny Graham did well to control, bring down the ball and find Dobbie who made a storming run into the box before playing the ball across the face of goal, and as Graham looked destined for a tap in Nacho intercepted to knock the ball out for a corner.
Portuguese keeper Jose Moreira looked far from impressive in the opening half as he fumbled a number of what should have been routine saves, one of which almost resulting in a Betis goal however he recovered in time to re-collect.
Swansea again came close with the last movement of the half as Alan Tate’s header from close range worked Casto who did well to tip the ball over the cross bar.
Despite struggling defensively with the pace of Momo getting the better of him on a number of occasions, Angel Rangel posed a real threat pushing forward, linking well with Dyer the two showed signs of the play we have become accustom to seeing on the right wing over recent months.
Swansea made three substitutions at the interval which saw the introduction of Joe Allen, German trialist Gerhard Tremmel and débutante Wayne Routledge.
After much speculation surrounding how Routledge would fit into The Swans side with both current wingers in peak form, he entered the game in a more central role which worked effectively as he combined with both Dyer and Sinclair as well as making some impressive solo runs. He demonstrated a great work ethic and determination with numerous well timed challenges. I feel he could play a big role in the forthcoming season.
Tremmel was tested early on in the second half and the German, who has looked promising so far during his time with Swansea, dealt with Castro’s dangerous cross well.
The deadlock was finally broken shortly after the hour mark and it was the home side that took the lead, following some neat work out wide, Angel Rangel picked out Danny Graham who showed great skill and physicality to hold off the challenge of Mario, before turning and chipping Casto for what proved to be the only goal of the game.
With 20 minutes remaining, Graham, Sinclair and Dyer were replaced by Gower, Moore and Lita. Having had an extended summer break due to International duties, Scott Sinclair put in a much improved performance on Saturday after the winger had looked rusty against Celtic.
Mark Gower delivered a solid performance, creating further head work for Brendan Rodgers ahead of their game at The Etihad Stadium as The Swans boast great strength in depth throughout their midfield options, all competing for their place in the side. Real Betis had chances late on through Ruben Castro and Ezequiel, however Swansea defended well to ensure they kept a clean sheet.
Next up is the one we’ve all been waiting for as The Swans kick off their Premier League campaign against Man City in just over a week!