After last week’s respectable 1-1 draw against Villarreal, Betis will face a far tougher test this weekend against Rafa Benítez’s Real Madrid.
If Betis didn’t know they had returned to La Liga standards, they certainly will be Saturday night. However, Betis shouldn’t be daunted. They have been here before not too long ago and manager Pepe Mel, who returns to his homeland, has managed Betis to over 100 games in the top flight.
Betis made several mistakes last week against the yellow submarine, but managed to get away with it. There shall be no such letting off against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and his chums.
By Madrid’s very high standards, they have made a slow start, albeit they have only played one game! However, that one game was against newly promoted Sporting Gijón, who Betis comfortably finished above last season. Madrid stuttered to a 0-0 draw away from home.
This weekend though could see the return of their famous BBC attack – Bale, Benzema and Cristiano. The Welshman and Frenchman have returned to training this week and will be sure to play a part this weekend. That coupled with the fact they will be in front of their home crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu means Betis will be facing a different beast to that faced by Gijón the week before.
Betis are likely to line up the same as last week. Perhaps the only change that might occur is Jorge Molina coming out for someone more defensive, for example a fit-again Didier Digard to make his competitive debut.
Dani Ceballos has trained ‘marvellously’ this week according to Pepe Mel, but his situation is no more clear. He’ll be on the bench again to come on as an impact player, although we could certainly do with having him on from the start.
Last time Betis journeyed to the Bernabeu two years ago, they narrowly lost 2-1. Only a late goal from Isco managed to get Madrid all 3 points. From that team in 2013, there is only one player that will make the squad this weekend – Jorge Molina.
From a bético perspective, let’s hope Saturday night’s game will be just as close, with perhaps Rubén Castro sneaking a winner in the 87th minute this time.
Kick off is 21:30 GMT.