Real Betis are closing in on the Champions League qualification for the first since 2005 but midfielder William Carvalho insisted that they must play every remaining game of the season like a cup final.
Betis have enjoyed a renaissance this season to currently sit third in LaLiga, six points behind local rivals Sevilla and ten behind leaders Real Madrid.
Under Manuel Pellegrini, Los Verdiblancos have been given hope of returning to play among Europe’s elite on the Champions League stage.
William Carvalho (pictured) insisted Real Betis must play every game like a cup final
But Portuguese midfielder Carvalho is not allowing himself to get carried away just yet, as he insisted there is still a long way to go.
‘We have to think match by match because there’s still a long way to go this season,’ he said.
‘I think that if we play well and continue to do things properly, this will be a very good season for us.
‘If the club is able to play in the Champions League, that will be great for the players and the club as Betis hasn’t participated in it for a while.
The Portuguese midfielder insisted there is still a long way to go in the season
‘I think we’re going to continue playing well until the end of the season, but as I said we’re concentrating on this season match by match.
‘We’ve got to play match by match and play each game as if it were a final to do well at the end of the season.’
The Spanish side have not competed in the Champions League since the 2005-2006 season after they clinched their spot by beating Monaco in the qualifying round.
They faced then-reigning champions Liverpool, Chelsea and Anderlecht in the group stages but ultimately did not progress to the knockouts, despite pulling off a 1-0 win over the Blues and scraping a 0-0 draw against the Reds at Anfield.
They beat Real Sociedad in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey on Thursday and a return to the Champions League is now in their sights but they face a tough run of fixtures before they make it over the finishing line.
Betis beat Real Sociedad 4-0 in the Copa del Rey quarter-final on Thursday night
Starting with seventh-place Villareal on Sunday, they must tackle Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao in the league in the coming couple of months, as well as Europa League ties with Zenit.
And Carvalho is fully aware of the importance of securing points now to stand them in good stead for the home stretch of the season.
‘The next few matches are very important,’ he said. ‘It’s going to be important to win the next few matches if we want to stay at the top of the table.’
Betis had finished 10th and 15th the two seasons before Pellegrini’s arrival but since the Chilean took charge in 2020 they secured 6th place last term and a potential top four finish is on the cards.
Carvalho insisted that the team believed in manager Manuel Pellegrini’s (pictured) ideas
Carvalho owed this season’s success to the commitment commitment and faith in the manager.
‘This season has gone really well. We’re working well as a team, ‘he said. ‘The Champions League spots are really important for us and each team member has a high performance level.
‘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 starts in LaLiga last season but has featured in 20 of his side’s 22 LaLiga games this term and has almost equalized last season’s tally with 11 starts.
‘I’m playing a lot more because on an individual level I’m doing better,’ Carvalho explained.
‘I’ve done a lot of hard work and I’m going to continue to work hard so that I can continue my performance.
‘The coach has spoken to me a lot and he really trusts me. I also really believe in him too. He likes the way I’m playing.
‘And with Guido (Rodriguez) and the other midfielders we work very hard. With good quality players it makes things easier.
The 29-year-old also praised his fellow midfielder Guido Rodriguez (left) for his hard work
‘In previous seasons, I haven’t played very regularly but now I really believe in the way I’m playing and I think I can contribute a lot to my team.
‘This season I started really well. I’ve played very consistently because I’m working very hard. ‘
When asked what his career goal was, the Portugal international simply responded: ‘To win titles, obviously. That’s what every player wants. ‘
‘And another goal for me is 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 boss Fernando Santos with a view to representing A Selecao in Qatar.
Carvalho hopes his success will earn him more involvement with the Portuguese national team
‘In the last call up I did not play a lot for my national team,’ he said.
‘But I’ve always been called up and I think I’ve been doing things well for my club and I’m going to continue to do things well.
‘I’m always really delighted to represent my country and help the team.’
Portugal must face Turkey in the World Cup playoffs before potentially taking down Euro 2020 champions Italy to book their place in Qatar.
But Carvalho has no concerns, believing Portugal can overcome the challenge.
‘Portugal are going to have some very difficult matches to play,’ he said. ‘But we’ve got to think about Turkey first.
‘But I think Portugal can win. We can beat Turkey and then Italy because we’re a good quality squad.
‘Each one of the Portuguese players have got a great performance, so hopefully that makes winning a little bit easier.’