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Bolton continue Spanish friendly tradition, announce match with Real Betis

Denis Doyle

For the fourth year running, Bolton Wanderers will play a preseason friendly against a Spanish side. The club has officially confirmed through their website that the Trotters will welcome Real Betis to the Reebok Stadium on 26 July. The match brings the senior side's friendly count to four matches this preseason, joining Rotherham United, Shrewsbury Town, and Carlisle United in the books.

Real Betis finished the 2012/13 La Liga campaign in seventh place, qualifying for Europa League play in the process. For the upcoming season, Spanish teams fought for four Champions League spots and three Europa League spots with fifth place into the competition and the other two spots forced to go through qualification. Malaga finished one point and one spot above Betis and in normal circumstances, a European spot would have been theirs. However, Malaga have been banned from European competition for the next four seasons due to overdue payables to other football clubs, staff, and tax authorities. Betis would have qualified in seventh place had Malaga not been banned but this would have left Sevilla, finishing in ninth, out of Europe. They earned the spot after Real Vallecano were also banned from playing in Europe next year.

Real Betis are the fourth Spanish team to play Bolton Wanderers in the last four years. In 2010, Osasuna came over and lost 2-0 at the Reebok thanks to goals from Johan Elmander and Chung-Yong Lee. The following year saw Bolton lose 0-1 to Levante, Vicente Iborra had the lone goal. Finally, last season had Bolton welcome Barcelona B to the Reebok with that match ending a 2-2 draw. A Sergi Gomez own goal leveled matters for Bolton after Cristian Lobato opened the scoring. Barcelona pulled ahead thanks to Ivan Balliu before Marvin Sordell scored to make it 2-2.