My, doesn't that clasificación look good. And don't believe anyone who says that it's early days, that two games in is too soon to get excited, that league tables don't mean anything until November - they're clearly just bitter. All we need now is the arrival of that asteroid I was talking about the other day, then a kind of Duckworth-Lewis method for the 2011/12 Liga BBVA season, and Real Betis can take their rightful place in the first post-apocalyptic Champions League. Is that too much to ask?
More thoughts on yesterday's game...
l My first and most important task is to send you all scurrying over to the awesome European Football Weekends website, where head honcho Danny Last has written about his day out in Heliópolis. I think we can all agree that he "gets" it. My only complaint is that Danny, lovely chap that he is, was foolish enough to visit more than 270 European football stadiums before he got to the most important.
l As you'll read, Danny was particularly taken with Palmerín, the approximately palm-tree-shaped mascot that leaps about the pitch beforehand and often joins in goal celebrations with the players. The referee was less than impressed, however. At one point shortly before the winning goal, when Mallorca were time-wasting for all they were worth, the mascot stuck out a cartoon boot to stop the ball running away and accidentally prevented it from completely crossing the touchline. The ref stopped play, called a stadium official over to admonish poor Palmerín, insisted on restarting play with a drop ball and then wrote up the whole incident in his match report. They are a special breed.
l After I watched the video clips on the Marca website (not available outside Spain, sadly), it struck me that Mallorca did have several good chances, most of them the result of Betis defensive mistakes (with Chechu Dorado, most uncharacteristically, the biggest culprit). So we should probably bear in mind that more clinical opposition might have provided a sterner test. Overall, though, everyone seems to agree that Betis were the better side.
l Alongside Dorado, Antonio Amaya made his debut in central defence after joining from Wigan in the summer. And I thought he had a very promising game, winning more than his fair share of crucial headers and making some well timed tackled. Pepe Mel will have a difficult decision to make on Sunday if, as expected, Mario is fit again for the next game at Athletic Bilbao.
l At the other end, Jorge Molina must still be re-playing that first-half miss in his head. "Nothing like that has ever happened to me before," he said afterwards, rather forlornly. To be fair, you can hardly say he did anything wrong. The ball came back off the post from Rubén Castro's clever shot, and he was alert enough to head it firmly down - as you're taught to - towards the empty net. How it then bounced up eight feet to smack against the crossbar is anyone's guess. Not that he was nursing his wounds - he was back up showing great agility to get anywhere near the second rebound. Just incredible, but I'm sure Patricia will get his head right for next weekend.
l Where would be without Rubén Castro? Coming back from another long trip to Numancia is the probable answer to that. Despite his goals for Betis, however - 34 in 51 games, we think - a thread on the Betisweb forum yesterday suggested that he might still be underappreciated by the verdiblanco faithful - for the simple reason that his name doesn't lend itself very well to being sung aloud. In Spanish, where you put the stress on a word is very important, so it's "RuBEN CAStro", which even Cole Porter would have trouble turning into a lyric. I hope he understands it's nothing personal and that we love him really.
l Vadillo or Ezequiel as a second-half substitute for Jefferson Montero? That's another debate raging among Béticos right now after, for the second game in a row, Álvaro Vadillo (who's 17 today, by the way) failed to show why scouts around Europe are so excited about him. He did OK, but it's hard to see why he wouldn't have been better off playing a full game for Betis B and letting Ezequiel - who's only three years older but has a lot more experience - continue his own development as a skilful, pacy winger.
l The club have vowed to announce official attendance figures for each home game as a way of demonstrating their commitment to modernisation, so I can tell you there were 35,125 at the Benito Villamarín yesterday - La Liga's third-highest attendance of the day, and not at all bad considering the conditions. As was the case throughout last year, the fans were amazingly supportive, even when it looked like it was going to be one of those days. A visit to Bilbao next week is no easy task, but one thing's for certain: Béticos have enormous faith in their players and their coach these days. ¡A por ellos!