A goalless draw with HNK Rijeka did little to cheer Chuli and Juanfran, who are now focusing on helping Real Betis Balompié off the foot of the Liga table before European competition resumes.
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For Real Betis Balompié's Juanfran and Chuli, a goalless home draw with UEFA Europa League Group I's bottom side HNK Rijeka did little to lift morale in the Verdiblancos camp.
Marooned at the foot of the Spanish Liga, Betis were already through to the round of 32 before this fixture against the Croatian club, whose defenders Niko Datković and Luka Marić said the "good point" was a fitting end to their first UEFA Europa League group stage campaign, despite Matjaž Kek's men failing to win a game.
Juanfran, Betis midfielder
We attacked a lot down the flanks, I had two shots saved by the keeper, Markus Steinhöfer had a chance and Chuli had a one-on-one. It wasn't for lack of trying [that we didn't score]. We're working hard, the team dominated and pressured high up the pitch, but we're not getting any luck at the moment. This group has turned out the way most people would have predicted. Olympique Lyonnais were the strongest team in the group, but we qualified for the next phase with a round to spare too and we can still dream.
We've got to take things step by step and let's see who we get in the round of 32, because I think the team will be doing better by then. But, whoever we get, we just have to go all out against them – at this stage, all the teams are good. I've been lucky enough to play under [new Betis] coach Juan Carlos Garrido before. I feel very comfortable with him, because his teams play high up the pitch and so I can move into space, which is what I like to do. We've now got to keep improving and start getting better results.
Niko Datković, Rijeka defender
It was a beautiful atmosphere and getting a point here is a big deal, as Betis are a great team. We all did our best and it's a deserved point. Maybe we could have taken all three, as we had some good chances, but they had some too – so it's a fair result. Playing in the Europa League is a very big experience for all of us, especially us younger guys, so I really hope to play in the competition and here in Spain again. I can't really pick one special moment, everything has been special. It's the first time for the club in [the group stage of] this competition and it really means a lot to the city, the fans, the players and everyone at the club.
Chuli, Betis forward
We went out looking to try and grab hold of the game and win every challenge, which is what we've tried to do in every other match. Things aren't going the way we'd like them too, but we have to find a way through this. At the start of the season, in the summer, we would taken being in this situation – qualifying from the group with a game to spare. But it's true that our league situation stops us enjoying this. We have to turn things around as soon as possible. I got a one-on-one with the goalkeeper and when I was about to shoot the ball gave a little bobble, but I'm sure I'll put away the next one.
Luka Marić, Rijeka defender
A point was good, we did our best for the whole game. We gave 100% and deserved to get a draw. We could also have won the game, but that's football, so we should be pleased with the point. For some of our players it was their first season in European competition. We gave our best in every game and have ended up with four points, which for us is a good total. For me, the highlight of this [European] season was the [second leg of the play-off tie against VfB Stuttgart], because that game [a 2-2 draw to qualify 4-3 on aggregate] was the biggest result in the history of the club.