Real Madrid will be looking to wrap up the 2018-19 season with a victory, when they welcome Real Betis to the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Curtains will be drawn on the 2018-19 edition of the La Liga on Sunday and Real Madrid will have an opportunity to end their season on a winning note, as they play hosts to Quique Setien’s Real Betis side.
It has been quite a disappointing campaign for Real Madrid as they are set to finish third in the La Liga behind arch-rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, while they made early exits from the Champions League and Copa del Rey as well. With nothing but pride left to play for on Sunday afternoon, Zinedine Zidane’s men will be looking to wrap things up with a victory.
The last time Los Blancos were in action, they were hammered 3-1 away from home by Real Sociedad. Real Madrid have picked up just two wins in their last six league outings (D2 L2).
Real Betis, after a highly impressive season last time out, have found it difficult to juggle participation in Europe, coupled with their semi-final run in Copa del Rey, all of which has had a bearing on their league form. Quique Setien’s side sit tenth in the table, having won only one of their last six league outings.
With the manager under the threat of losing his job after a disappointing run of results since the turn of the year, Los Verdiblancos will need a victory against their illustrious opponents this weekend, if they are to hand Setien a lifeline to hold on to his job ahead of next season.
The last time these two sides met, Real Madrid just about edged a 2-1 victory, with Dani Ceballos scoring a late winning goal. And ahead of their final encounter of the 2018-19 season, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both sets of teams.
Team News & Tactics
Club captain Sergio Ramos remains unavailable for Real Madrid, as does right-back Alvaro Odriozola. Jesus Vallejo is suspended for the tie after being sent off against Sociedad last week, while Casemiro too is out with a suspension for accumulation of cards.
Keylor Navas is back in the scheme of things after missing the last game and could be handed a start on Sunday, in what could very well prove to be his last appearance for Real Madrid, with a summer move away from the Santiago Bernabeu on the cards for the Costa Rican.
In defence, Raphael Varane is expected to replace the suspended Jesus Vallejo, with Nacho alongside him, while Dani Carvajal and Marcelo hold on to their spots as the full-backs. Casemiro’s absence opens up a space for Marcos Llorente to start as the defensive midfielder for Real, with Luka Modric in line for a return, along with Federico Valverde, who could start in place of Toni Kroos.
Brahim Diaz scored the only goal for Real Madrid last time out and should feature from the get-go on Sunday in attack. Top scorer Karim Benzema is also pretty much nailed down for a start. The third slot could see a switch though, as Gareth Bale could replace Marco Asensio, in what could be his farewell appearance for Real Madrid as well.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Nacho, Marcelo; Modric, Llorente, Valverde; Diaz, Benzema, Bale
The visitors will have to make do with the injury-enforced absence of Sergio Canales and Antonio Barragan, while Joaquin misses out with a suspension. Setien is unlikely to tinker with the 4-2-3-1 formation for his side’s visit to the Bernabeu on Sunday.
Joel Robles is likely to be kept a busy man between the sticks and will need all the protection he can get from his backline comprising of Francis Guerrero and Junior Firpo as the full-backs with Zouhair Feddal and former Barcelona man Marc Bartra operating at the heart of the defence.
Seasoned campaigner Andres Guardado will form a two-man midfield pivot with Wilfrid Kaptoum and look to stop Real Madrid in their tracks and help launch attacks from deep areas. Giovani Lo Celso should once again take up the playmaking duties, starting in the No. 10 role.
Former Real Madrid man Jese could get a look-in on the right flank, with Joaquin suspended, while the opposite wing would be continue to be manned by Cristian Tello. Leading the line for Setien’s side on Sunday will be Loren Moron.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Robles; Francis, Feddal, Bartra, Firpo; Kaptoum, Guardado; Jese, Lo Celso, Tello; Moron
- Real Madrid have only lost one of their last 10 La Liga matches against Real Betis (W8 D1), that defeat coming in their last meeting at Santiago Bernabeu (0-1 in September 2017).
- Real Betis’ 1-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu last season ended Real Madrid’s scoring run of 73 consecutive games in all competitions, the longest ever run of any side in the top five European leagues.
- Since Zinédine Zidane’s return, Real Madrid have only won 50% of their La Liga games (five from 10), all of them played at the Santiago Bernabeu.
- Real Betis have lost their last four La Liga away games – the last time they lost five or more away matches in a row in the competition with the same manager was under Pepe Mel in November 2013 (five).
- Real Madrid have only won 50% of their La Liga games (five from 10), all of them played at Santiago Bernabeu.
Player to Watch
Despite winning plenty of trophies during his time at Real Madrid, Gareth Bale has never quite been able to endear himself to the club faithful. Injuries and fitness problems have hampered him season by season and Sunday’s game could very well prove to be his final appearance for Los Blancos.
Ever since Zidane’s return at the helm of things in March, speculation has been rife that Bale could be offloaded come summer. And the manager has dropped subtle hints that it could indeed be the case. The 29-year-old, who has 102 goals in 231 appearances for Real Madrid, will be hoping to go out on a high if this game does end up being his last with the Spanish giants.
Real Madrid 2-1 Real Betis
Both the teams have been on a disappointing run of form of late and have struggled to rack up victories on consistent basis. Real Madrid were handed a beating last time out by Real Sociedad, but they have been unbeatable at home since Zidane’s return. Real Betis, on the other hand, have a poor record on the road, and that is why we are tipping Los Blancos to come out on top on Sunday.