Estadio Benito Villamarin, Seville
Saturday, January 17, 15:00 GMT
The second half of the La Liga begins this weekend, as Real Betis host Real Madrid at the Estadio Benito Villamarin. Real Madrid travel to Seville 3 points adrift the top of the table. Having won 4 and drawn 1 of their last 5 league games, Real Madrid will be confident of winning another 3 points in an attempt to equalise on points with league leaders Barca and Atleti. Though temporarily, 3 points will bring Los Blancos on level terms at the top of the table. On the other hand, the hosts Real Betis face an uphill task of avoiding relegation as they sit right at the bottom of the table 5 points behind Rayo. Having drawn 2 and lost 3 of their last 5 league games, the confidence will be low in the Betis camp. However, Real Betis will try their best to gain something from this home fixture in order to strengthen their chances of avoiding relegation.
The last time these two sides faced each other was for their opening game this season at the Bernabeu where Real Madrid won the game 2-1 thanks to a last minute headed goal from Isco.
Team News and Tactics:
Real Betis are currently placed at the bottom of the table and are having a clearly disastrous season. Betis have lost 3 of their last 5 league games including last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Osasuna. Betis come into this game after suffering a 2-0 defeat against Bilbao in midweek Copa Del Rey game. After being eliminated from the Copa Del Rey, Betis will try to resurrect their position in the league. Though a difficult fixture, Betis have the home advantage and the fact that the last time they faced Real Madrid, Los Blancos only managed to win the game courtesy a stoppage time goal from Isco.
Betis coach Juan Carlos Garrido will most likely play with the 4-3-3 formation. Midfielder Nono is facing suspension for the red card he received against Osasuna. The manager is expected to bring Anderson back between the sticks after the stopper was rested for the Copa Del Rey fixture. The back four will consist of Juanfran, Paulao, Amaya and Nacho. The trio of Verdu, Lolo and Salva will occupy the midfield. Vadillo will play the role of a centre-forward with Baptistao and Castro occupying the flanks.
Expected line-up (4-3-3): Andersen; Juanfran, Paulao, Amaya, Nacho; Verdu, Lolo, Salva; Baptistao, Vadillo, Castro;
Real Madrid go into this game looking to extend their unbeaten streak to 10 games. 3 points behind league leaders Barca and Atletico, Madrid will look to pressurise the two at the top by winning the 3 points and close the gap for the time being. With Barcelona and Atletico playing their games later in the weekend, Real Madrid have the chance to win this game and put the two teams under pressure before their fixtures. Having won 4 and drawn 1 of their last 5 league games, Real Madrid will be confident of winning this game. However, it will not be an easy task for the Blancos as They almost drew the last time they faced Betis in a home game. A last-minute header from Isco rescued Madrid and helped them seal the three points.
Carlo Ancelotti is still without Khedira and Varane as both haven’t yet fully recovered from their injuries. Fabio Coentrao made a comeback from injury in the midweek Cup game where he was sent off on a second bookable offence. Ancelotti is expected to recall Diego Lopez, Marcelo, Carvajal, Modric and Bale after they missed the Copa Del Rey victory against Osasuna. Ancelotti may stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation with Lopez occupying the goal, Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos and Marcelo comprising of the back four. Alonso will be accompanied by Modric deep in the midfield. Isco will play a central role in the attacking midfield position supported by Bale on the right flank and Ronaldo on the left. Benzema will occupy the no. 9 position.
Expected line-up (4-2-3-1): Lopez; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Alonso, Modric; Bale, Isco, Ronaldo; Benzema;
Player to Watch out for
The Balon D’or trophy must be locked safely by the winger and he will be looking to have another sensational year to challenge for the same next year. This game being Ronaldo’s first after winning the coveted Balon D’or for the second time, expect him to go full guns on attack against bottom placed Betis. Having scored 20 goals in the league already, we can expect a goal or two form the Portugeuse.
Real Betis 1-3 Real Madrid
Real Betis are the clear underdogs in this game and are not expected to gain anything from it. However, the Madrid backline has been weak and we can expect a goal from Betis. Real Madrid will try to win the game with a high level of attacking football.