Spanish football continues ahead of pace as this weekend sees a tasty battle in Andalucía. The match sees on-form Real Betis and La Liga Champions Real Madrid clash this Saturday evening. (7 pm UK time)
Real Betis Host Real Madrid After Two Wins From Two
Early Promise from Real Betis
The Green and Whites have made an impressive start to this La Liga campaign with two wins from two against Alavés and Valladolid. The goals came from Cristian Tello in the 94th minute in their opening game and two goals from Nabil Fekir. This also includes an impressive volley from William Carvalho in matchday two.
In both games, Real Betis have kept a clean sheet; the team are showing much more solidity and organization than last season. Real Betis finished a lowly 15th with the expectation being on challenging for the Europa League places.
The Engineer Enhances Betis’ Power
Key to Betis’ revival has been the appointment of experienced coach Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean veteran is in his fourth spell in La Liga after notable success at Villarreal, Malaga and, to some degree, Real Madrid. His knowledge of Spanish football is already paying dividends on a squad which is finding the best version of itself thanks to the man known as the engineer.
His calm demeanour, effective man-management and tactical knowledge has forged a resurgent Betis, who won all three of their pre-season matches.
An important cog in the wheel has been goalkeeper Claudio Bravo arriving from Manchester City. His assuredness, strong communication and notable goalkeeping and shot shopping have lead to the second worse defence of La Liga last season improving markedly thanks to his leadership.
In essence, he has become Pellegrini’s eyes and ears on the pitch. And it is clear he has helped tighten up Betis’ porous defence so far – making a wonderful double save in his debut at Alavés. He, and his team, will have to be at their sparkling best come game time on Saturday.
Real Aiming to Find Their Groove
Due to Madrid’s European adventures, the Whites have only played one game so far. This was a tight 0-0 affair against Real Sociedad in San Sebastián. Coach Zinedine Zidane started former Sociedad player Martin Odegaard for his first start for The Whites since his move back. However, his appearance in Seville for Saturday’s game is in doubt due to testing positive for coronavirus. A further test will determine its validity. But the rest of his teammates and staff tested negative in a recent check.
The men from the capital are a lighter unit for this season due to the departures of James Rodríguez and Gareth Bale. This was highlighted by the lack of depth on their bench for their opening game of the season. Four youth academy players made up the remainder of the squad.
Tale of the Tape Real Betis Real Madrid
Always an absorbing and intriguing game when these two face each other, Real Betis managed to secure four points against Madrid last season despite their season woes. Firstly, there was a 0-0 draw on the road. This was followed by a 2-1 victory at their Benito Villamarín home last March before the lockdown commenced.
Cristian Tello scored the winning goal that night and his team have the distinction of being unbeaten in the last three trips to the Santiago Bernabéu. Last season’s draw preceding two further victories (0-1 three seasons ago followed by a 0-2 win two seasons ago). Betis are Madrid’s bogey side in recent times. However, historically, it is the current La Liga champions who have the better record head to head. Madrid have 62 wins to Betis’ 26 victories with 24 draws in 112 matches overall.
One’s to Watch Real Betis Real Madrid
Betis will look to their World Cup winner Nabil Fekir for inspiration to record a third straight La Liga game. The Frenchman bagged seven goals in 27 appearances last season. He was one of the teams shining lights in a dark campaign. His trickery, skill and vision could make the difference. However, his fiery temperament on big nights could probe costly. This was the case when he was sent off against Barcelona last March with his team in the ascendancy.
The Madrid striker continues to be the beacon of hope in terms of goals. Now, is in his 11th season, he will aim to add to his tally of 169 goals for the Champions. His potent ability in the box and year on year improvements saw him strike 21 times in the Spanish top-flight last time out. He and his team will be hoping for more this Saturday to secure their first league win of the new 2020/21 season.
It promises to be an entertaining match up as both Real clubs do battle. Will Manuel Pellegrini engineer a famous win or will Zinedine Zidane enjoy his first victory of the season?