Estadio Santiago de Bernabeu, Madrid
Saturday 29th Aug, 2015, 21:30 GMT
After a dour opening draw against Sporting Gijon, Rafael Benitez’ Real Madrid will look to bounce back against Real Betis at the Bernabeu. Benitez, who took over the Real hot seat from Carlo Ancelotti, blamed the draw against Gijon on their lack of shooting accuracy while insisting that his players did not lack attacking ambition. Newly promoted second division champions, Betis, will look to upset Los Blancos, after holding Villareal to a tense 1-1 draw on Match day 1.
Team News and Tactics
Rafa Benitez is known for rotating his players and it won’t be a surprise if Real’s squad changes from the one which faced Gijon on Match day 1. Keylor Navas is likely to hold his position between the sticks.
Benitez gave Danilo his first team debut against Gijon, with last years first choice right-back, Dani Carvajal, relegated to the bench. The Brazilian still looked rusty after coming back from an injury, leaving the door open for Carvajal to regain his place. Despite Pepe’s recent contract renewal, Benitez is unlikely to tinker with the current centre back pairing of Varane and Ramos, while Marcelo is likely to retain his spot at left-back.
In midfield, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Isco are all likely to retain their spot in the starting line-up as Rafa Benitez is yet to blood in Croatian international Matteo Kovacic.
Benitez turned many heads last week when he decided to start James Rodriguez on the bench, preferring Jes over the Colombian. The move turned out to be a bad one as Jes endured a dismal start to the season. While Karim Benzema has returned to training, Benitez is unlikely to risk the forward, leading to the possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo being deployed as a No. 9.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Navas, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Isco, James, Bale, Cristiano
Making their return to the top flight after a season’s absence, Betis announced themselves with a tense 1-1 draw against Villareal. While the performance was not a victorious one, manager Pepe Mel is unlikely to make any major changes.
Former Real Goalkeeper Antonio Adan will reprise his role as Betis’ number 1. Bruno Gonzales and Pezzella are likely to continue at the centre of Betis’ defence, with Piccinni and Jorge Vargas flanking them on the right and left respectively.
N’Daiye and Xavi Torres are expected to start at the the heart of Betis’ midfield with Portillo marshalling the left flank, and Sejudo the right.
Up front, goalscorer Rub n Castro is set to start alongside Jorge Molina, who plies in the hole, right behind the striker. Betis will have to be structurally tight, and not allow Real Madrid any space in the centre or on the wings.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Adan, B. Gonzales, Pezzella, Piccinni, Vargas, Portillo, N’Diaye, Xavi Torres, Cejudo, Castro, Molina
- Betis last beat Real Madrid in 2012, when they claimed a narrow 1-0 victory over the Los Blancos.
- Real Madrid have lost only twice in their last 19 meeting against Real Betis, winning 13.
- Real Madrid thumped 5 past Real Betis in their last encounter in 2013-14.
Player to watch out for:
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Any game that has Cristiano Ronaldo in it is bound to be dominated by the on field heroics of the Portuguese international. Ronaldo failed to find the net in the opening game of the season against Sporting de Gijon and would be looking to bring normalcy back to life by scoring against the promoted side. Lionel Messi also failed to score in the opening game of La Liga and this gives Ronaldo an opportunity to gain a slight advantage over his arch-rival in the race for the Pichichi.
The 30-year-old is expected to lead the line for Real Madrid and with the Bernabeu outfit expected to create a lot of chances, Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking to get his name on the score-sheet. The Portuguese was left frustrated by a lack of service in the opening game and even had a penalty shout waved off.
Real Madrid 4 – 0 Real Betis
Real Madrid would be looking to open their goal scoring account in the La Liga, having failed to score in their opening clash. The Los Blancos would also want to remain within touching distance of holders FC Barcelonain order to prevent the Catalan club from opening an unassailable lead at the top early on in the season. Betis would be hoping to cause an upset after narrowly missing out on a win in the opening day of the season.