Estadio Benito Villamarín, Seville
Saturday, 24th November, 21:00 GMT
After securing passage to knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League on Matchday Five, Real Madrid must now shift focus to La Liga once again. The performance against Manchester City in midweek was not one that Jose Mourinho would have been proud of, especially as the occasion marked his 100th UEFA Champions League game as the youngest manager, with the midfield particularly wasteful and the fact they could not manage to grab the top spot. But he would take heart from the fact that he can once again concentrate all his faculties on plotting to take down eternal rivals Barcelona, with Matchday Six not but only a formality and that He has won the Champions League both times he finished second in the group stages.
Team News and Tactical Brief
After playing in Spain’s Segunda Division for a couple of years, Real Betis are looking to consolidate their position in the Primera Division. They finished in the 13th position last season and have proven themselves good value for money so far with the club sitting at the 6th place, three places below Real Madrid.
Betis Manager Pepe Mel will have midfielder Ruben Perez, on loan from Atletico Madrid, missing the game due to suspension (Red Card) in the 5-1 defeat against Sevilla FC on Mathcday 12. Polish defender Damien Perquis is only likely to make a return Mid- December, while Sergio Rodriguez remains unavailable too.
The manager will have an unenviable task of rousing his troops after suffering a humiliating defeat in the 114th Seville Derby, to take on an even more stronger opponent in Real Madrid, and he will look to Ruben Castro to lead the line and continue his sensational form that has seen him score six goals in La Liga so far. He might not opt to play him and Jorge Molina together, with restraint closing down of spaces likely to be a part of the game-plan, although he will be certain to come on late in the game if the need arises.
Juan Carlos and Joel Campbell, on loan from Arsenal, will play on the wings, with Salva Sevilla pulling the strings behind the front three. Beñat will take up a more reserved role as a holding midfielder alongside Cañas. The back four will comprise of Paulao and Mario in central defence, with Alex Martinez and Nelson as full backs. Adrian will keep the goal.
Real Betis have been good on counter attacks this season, and with a midfield the quality of Real Madrid are likely to proceed with more of the same. They will need to take advantage of the odd break, while looking to break up Madrid’s midfield play. Having been a little shaky in some of their last games, this game probably has not come at the right time for VerdiBlancos.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Adrian; Nelson, Mario, Paulao, Martinez; Cañas, Beñat; Campbell, Sevilla, Carlos; Ruben Castro
Jose Mourinho would welcome the return to full fitness of Sami Khedira and Fabio Coentrao, with both putting in a decent shift, even though Khedira seemed very interesting in squandering every possible chance. His industrious presence in the midfield was something that had been missing and He could not have returned at a better time for Los Blancos. There are no fresh injury concerns with Marcelo and Gonzalo Higuain being the only ones out injured.
At the front, Jose Callejon will be likely to replace Di Maria who did not have one of his better games against Manchester City, with the rest of front three being the same, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Benzema’s immediate return to form after injury has ensured that this department will not be left wanting against Betis.
Although he had a good game against City, Luka Modric might still sit this one out with Ozil likely to replace him, who had been rested for the Champions League fixture. Xabi Alonso and the newly returned Sami Khedira would take up their usual positions in front of the back four. The Back Four would be the same as the one that played against Manchester City with Sergio Ramos and Pepe in central defence and Coentrao and Arbeloa as full backs.
With Real Betis likely to be playing on the counter Real Madrid would rely on their midfield, reinvigorated by Khedira’s return, and Ronaldo’s skills on the ball. Counter Attacking, as usually is Madrid’s preferred style might not be the best of options. Being quite needless to say that Real Madrid cannot afford any more slip ups, and with Champions League qualification sealed and passage to next round of Copa Del Rey all but certain, they will want to continue to chase Barcelona, and for atleast the time being, cut the gap on League leaders to five points.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Casillas; Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao; Khedira, Alonso; Callejon, Özil, Ronaldo; Benzema
Player To Watch Out For
Sami Khedira (Real Madrid)
The tireless midfielder has come back into the scene at Real Madrid after a lengthy injury lay off. His Midfield presence is something that Madrid have been lacking for some time and his return will in all likelihood return the sense of calm in what has looked a slighly haggard midfield this season. His industrious role would come in handy against a Real Betis side looking to close things down for Madrid.
Real Betis 1-3 Real Madrid
On the current run of form and players returning, anything other than a victory for Real Madrid looks unlikely. Real Betis, however will be stunned at the loss in Seville Derby and their manager will be looking for a response.
Blast From The Past