Serra: “Betis is the team that best plays football in Spain”

Serra: "El Betis es el equipo que mejor juega al fútbol en España"


Retired, but not retired, Lorenzo Serra Ferrer (La Puebla, 1953) refuses categorically to walk away from the passion of your life and from the sidelines he observes football news with the critical eye that experience gives him. the end of Cup of his Betis It’s a good alibi for this conversation.

—Football is past for you…

-Do not. It never will be. Football is my life, my illusion, my passion, I like it, it entertains me, but obviously now my priority is family, being with friends whom, for so many years, precisely because of my profession, I have seen less. Gone is my stage as coach, sports director, manager… That’s parked. One has to know how to retire on time.

—Were you very burned after your last experience at Betis?

-Do not. Precisely the experience is what in those complicated moments allows you to pause, look forward and answer your conscience. The perspective of time allows you to know if you have made a mistake, reflect, but no, I was not burned.

“The games in which they harass you, pressure you, are for talents like Sergio Canales, Don Sergio”

—The last Cup final that Betis won was with a certain Lorenzo Serra Ferrer on the bench…

—And in addition to winning the Cup, we finished fourth in the League, which qualified us to play in the Champions League for the first time in the history of Betis. I remember that in the semi-finals we had to beat Athletic with two goalless draws and finally we qualified on penalties. For me, that victory was special. He had just participated in two finals, the first with Mallorca against Atlético and the second with Betis against Barcelona and had lost both in extra time.

“I was beginning to think I was jinxed…

“As much as that, no, but he did have those thorns stuck in him.” In the 1997 final, we won 2-1 against Barça in the 88th minute. From the second final with Betis I always remember the crowd, the Beticismo thrown into the street during the journey from the hotel to the Vicente Calderón. He had experienced similar things, but nothing like that. I had never seen so much anxiety, so much passion, so much illusion. It was a responsibility, a pressure added to that of playing in the final.

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—And what do you remember about the game?

—We knew perfectly well the rival we had in front of us, their qualities. Osasuna was a strong, rocky, practical, direct team. All the plays were disputes. In the aerial game they looked for our back. It wasn’t as showy as the ’97 final. We had to back up the talent we had with Joaquín, Marcos Assunçao, Oliveira, Edú… with a strong, integrated defence. We went ahead, but he didn’t even give us time to put the necessary pause that would provoke anxiety in the adversary. They tied us quickly and it was back to start. The changes went well for us and with the second goal there was no time for much more.

“From the final against Osasuna, I remember Beticism through the streets on the way to the stadium. It was pressure”

—Does this final remind you a bit of the one against Osasuna? A team, Betis, who wants the ball, to be the protagonist against another, Valencia, more physical, who seeks more direct play, less elaborate…

—A priori, Betis, as the classification in the League justifies, has shown what football it proposes and has been superior, but in a final everything is different. What you do have to be clear about is that, if you’ve gotten there with a style of play, with certain criteria, you have to maintain and defend them. I don’t abuse my Betis passion if I say that today Betis is ahead, but I wouldn’t trust it because Valencia has a very competitive coach, who knows what he plays, what he likes and the players will surely accept him. Betis has footballers who unbalance through talent and these footballers in these games in which they harass you, pressure you, don’t let you think, are the ones who end up making the difference. For me, Sergio Canales is Don Sergio. You have to recognize the spectacular way he has had to grow as he has. We all saw him since he was little, but between the injuries and the lack of patience he couldn’t give before what he is giving now.

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—This Betis de Pellegrini communes with almost all the football concepts that you have always defended…

—Betis is the team that has played the best football so far this season, and if it’s not the best, it’s the second best. He has been brilliant on all fronts, including the Europa League, in which he was eliminated in the 121st minute. In the League he is brilliant, in the Cup he is brilliant. Bearing in mind that the other leading teams, due to their economic possibilities, may have more talent in their squads, the reality is that Betis have given brilliance to their victories with a well-coordinated, cohesive, well-intentioned game, with creativity at the center of the field, looking at the opposite goal from the front and with definition above.

Shield/Flag Betis

—And what is the other team that competes with Betis in that honorary title of playing football well?

-Various. At the start of the season, Real Sociedad was a brilliant team with their team play and also individually. In the first round, Rayo had some very good brushstrokes, worth taking into account and that speak well of the coach. Finally, the incorporation of Xavi has once again given Barcelona this hallmark of touching football, not only slow, but more vertical…

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—You forget about Real Madrid…

“No, I was with him now.” I cannot forget a team that goes first and has a midfield that is pure balance and is a fantastic creation machine… but the one that has been the most regular of all is Betis, the one that has prolonged its good game bet.

—After the Guardiola-Simeone battle, the war of styles is back in full force. A defender like you of the combinative game, of continuous attack, how do you now contemplate, as a simple fan, the other bets that propose not letting the opponent play, a more destructive game?

—As a coach, you understand and accept it. Each one chooses the ways to reach the goal he wants to achieve. Perhaps now, that I see it in a calmer plan, I can stand it less than before, but I also understand it. Each one has their circumstances and it is not easy to give an opinion from outside the locker room. I dare not say this is good or this is bad. I have my ideas of all life. There is no better recipe to win. There are many schools, different cultures, which have helped us see great stages throughout the history of football and we must always take into account the limitations that some teams may have. The characteristics of the players mark a lot. The artist is the footballer and I think that sometimes for some footballer it is a punishment to make impositions on him… If he does not have that virtue, maybe he has others. Forcing him to do one thing yes or yes, seems exaggerated to me. Let’s leave it there…

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