Real Betis are closing in on qualification for the Champions League for the first time since 2005, but midfielder William Carvalho has insisted they must play all the remaining matches of the season as a cup final.
Betis have enjoyed a renaissance this season and are currently third in LaLiga, six points behind local rivals Sevilla and ten behind leaders Real Madrid.
Under Manuel Pellegrini, Los Verdiblancos are hoping to once again play among Europe’s elite on the Champions League stage.
William Carvalho (in the photo) insisted that Real Betis must play every game as a cup final
But Portuguese midfielder Carvalho is not getting carried away just yet, as he insists there is still a long way to go.
“We have to think game by game because there is still a long way to go this season,” he said.
“I think that if we play well and continue to do things well, this will be a very good season for us.
“If the club can play in the Champions League, it will be great for the players and the club, since Betis hasn’t participated in a long time.”
The Portuguese midfielder insists that there is still a long way to go in the season
“I think we are going to continue to play well until the end of the season, but as I said, we are focused on this season game by game.
“We have to play game by game and play each game as if it were a final to do well at the end of the season.”
The Spanish team has not competed in the Champions League since the 2005-2006 season after they secured their place by beating Monaco in the qualifying round.
They faced then-champions Liverpool, Chelsea and Anderlecht in the group stage but ultimately failed to progress to the round of 16, despite posting a 1-0 win over the Blues and a 0-0 draw against the Reds in Anfield.
On Thursday they beat Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals and now have a return to the Champions League in their sights, but face a tough run of matches before crossing the finish line.
Betis beat Real Sociedad 4-0 on Thursday in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.
Starting with Villareal in seventh place on Sunday, they must face Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao in the league in the coming months, as well as Europa League ties with Zenit.
And Carvalho is fully aware of the importance of scoring points now to be in a good position for the final stretch of the season.
“The next matches are very important,” he said. “It will be important to win the next few games if we want to stay at the top of the table.”
Betis had finished 10th and 15th both seasons before Pellegrini’s arrival, but since the Chilean took over in 2020, they secured sixth place last year and a potential top-four finish is on the line.
Carvalho insisted that the team believed in the ideas of coach Manuel Pellegrini (pictured)
Carvalho owes this season’s success to the team’s commitment and trust in the coach.
‘This season has gone very well. We are working well as a team,’ he said. The Champions League places are very important to us and every member of the team has a high level of performance.
‘When the team is doing well, each individual player is doing well. The team believes in itself and we believe in the coach’s ideas.’
Carvalho only made 12 LaLiga starts last season, but he has managed in 20 of his team’s 22 LaLiga games this season and has nearly equaled last season’s tally with 11 starts.
“I’m playing a lot more because on an individual level I’m doing better,” explained Carvalho.
He worked hard and I will continue to work hard so that I can continue my performance.
The coach has talked to me a lot and trusts me a lot. I also believe in him a lot. He likes the way I play.
‘And with Guido (Rodriguez) and the other midfielders they worked very hard. With good quality players it makes things easier.
The 29-year-old also praised fellow midfielder Guido Rodríguez (left) for his hard work.
‘In previous seasons, I haven’t played very regularly, but now I really believe in the way I play and I think I can bring a lot to my team.
‘This season started very well. I have played very consistently because I am working very hard.
When asked what his career goal was, the Portuguese international replied simply: “To win, obviously.” That’s what every player wants.’
“And another goal for me is that when I finish playing here in LaLiga, I can play for my national team and play in the World Cup,” he added.
Carvalho hopes his success this season has impressed Portugal coach Fernando Santos with a view to representing the Selecao in Qatar.
Carvalho hopes that his success will allow him to participate more in the Portuguese national team.
“In the last call I didn’t play much with my national team,” he said.
“But I have always been called up and I think I have been doing things well for my club and I will continue to do things well.
“I am always delighted to represent my country and help the team.”
Portugal must face Turkey in the World Cup playoffs before potentially defeating Euro 2020 champions Italy to book their place in Qatar.
But Carvalho has no worries, he believes Portugal can rise to the challenge.
“Portugal are going to have some very difficult games to play,” he said. But first we have to think about Turkey.
But I think Portugal can win. We can beat Turkey and then Italy because we are a good quality team.
“Each one of the Portuguese players has had a great performance, so I hope that makes it a little easier for them to win.”