Report: Celtic chances boosted with Betis likely to keep two key men home

By Euan Davidson

December 8, 2021

Celtic fans will remember Betis midfielder Juanmi from our ill-fated trip to Seville in September.

The winger, who has 11 goals in all competitions [Transfermarkt], netted a brace in Andalusia as Real Betis overcame a first-half Celtic onslaught. It was a frustrating night in the Spanish heat, with Juanmi central to Los Verdiblancos’ comeback.

Well, tomorrow night, Celtic may not have to worry about the Betis marksman, nor Willian José, who has 6 goals to his name for 21-22. Because according to Diario de Sevilla, the duo are unlikely to even travel to Glasgow today.

Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Juanmi was the one who snaffled an equaliser for Betis in the first half, before making it 3-2 early in the second. The former Malaga man, who spent a year at Southampton to minimal effect, has flourished under Manuel Pellegrini.

Willian José is a more interesting case, though. On loan at Real Betis, José made an interesting move from Real Sociedad, after also having a disappointing year in England. The Brazilian striker was at Wolves through the 20-21 campaign, but scored just once.

You could’ve easily forgotten he was there at all. But the duo are going great guns together at Betis. Without them, Celtic could have an easier time of it.

Andrés Iniesta poses with another Celtic target, as ridiculous Hearts whining continues

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Andrés Iniesta poses with another Celtic target, as ridiculous Hearts whining continues
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Celtic will need every possible advantage against Real Betis

Although the stakes are far reduced, there’s plenty of reasons why Celtic could use a result tomorrow night. Primarily, it’d provide a windfall for whoever wins, to the tune of half a million pounds.

As we know, though, Real Betis are a very decent team. They currently sit third in La Liga [Sky Sports], a single point behind neighbours and rivals Sevilla.

Even without Juanmi and Willian José, there’ll be plenty of names for the Celtic defence to know. Joaquin, Diego Lainez, Sergio Canales and Cristian Tello are all threats.

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

A win wouldn’t provide anything of substance in terms of the Europa League group, but it would be a significant lift for morale. And really, the Celtic players should need no motivation regardless. Fans will still turn up, it’s the players’ job to entertain them.

The absence of Juanmi and Willian José would certainly help, mind. Manuel Pellegrini, a constant tinkerer, has decisions to make.

Read more: The opportunity that motivated Celtic left-back Greg Taylor through injury woes