Betis suffered a pretty comprehensive defeat last time out against Athletic Bilbao but can set things straight at home to Málaga this evening.
In the Basque Country, Betis were 3-0 down after 50 minutes and it was game over. A late goal by Rubén Castro (who else) made the scoreline look ever-so-slightly more respectable. Athletic were simply hungrier than Betis and wanted it much more. It brought Betis’ six game unbeaten streak to an end but it’s not the end of the world, to go up to the San Mamés and turn them over would have been one hell of a performance.
So onwards and upwards, which brings us to Málaga. A team stuck in mid-table obscurity, 9th in the table, two points better off than los verdiblancos but they haven’t really got too much about them in my view. Even Gary Neville’s Valencia beat them the other week!! This SHOULD be three points to Betis.
The difference between last week’s clash against Bilbao and this week’s against Málaga is that we are up against direct rivals this time. The players weren’t up for it last week but this evening they have no such excuse and it will be Juan Merino’s job to get them raring to go. The good news is that victories against Granada and Espanyol have restored a sense of tranquility at el Heliópolis and there aren’t many panicking by the threat of relegation, and they shouldn’t be in the near future either.
This is the last game before a two-week break so the players should be going hell to leather to get a result. There aren’t many changes to the squad, just the two: Molinero and Xavi Torres out, Kadir and Vargas in. Still no room in the match day squad for the likes of Van der Vaart, Van Wolfswinkel and former Málaga player Portillo. I’ve not seen much of new Brazilian signing Damiao but he will be on the bench tonight.
Kicks off tonight at 9:05pm (GMT) and 10:05pm elsewhere in Europe.