Real Madrid are aiming to bounce back to winning ways as they take on Real Betis at Estadio Benito Villamarin on Saturday.

After playing out an entertaining 3-3 draw with Levante, Real Madrid will be desperate for all three points when they lock horns with Real Betis at Estadio Benito Villamarin on Saturday. This game serves as their third consecutive and final away game before they return to Santiago Bernabeu to play Celta Vigo, just after the international break.

Heading into the break on a positive note, though, could be critical as Real Madrid look to put early pressure on arch-rivals FC Barcelona and defending champions Atletico Madrid.

However, Saturday’s game comes at a time when the entire Madrid has been left preoccupied with the speculations surrounding the potential arrival of Kylian Mbappe, one that could have a lasting impact on the overall squad.

Nevertheless, Carlo Ancelotti must get his troops to focus on the pitch, knowing they simply cannot drop some points and lose valuable early ground over their rivals. In Real Betis, they already face a stern opposition, who had held Los Blancos to a goalless draw in April, a result that had a massive impact over the La Liga title race.

The visitors will be hoping for retribution this weekend, this time under the leadership of Ancelotti and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of their enticing match-up in Seville on Saturday.

Team News & Tactics

Real Betis

Marc Bartra remains a doubt for Real Betis heading into this contest. He is still lacking match fitness, so it won’t be surprising to see Manuel Pellegrini persisting with the central defensive duo of Edgar Gonzalez and Victor Ruiz.

Given the quality of the opposition, they are going to need all the support they can get and that is where full-backs Martin Montoya and Juan Miranda come into the fray. Montoya, in particular, should be given a more defensive role, providing additional support to the centre-backs, while the left-back Miranda might be given a bit more freedom going forward.

Pellegrini might make one or two changes elsewhere, with star player Guido Rodriguez tipped to replace Andres Guardado in central midfield. The Argentine should form the double-pivot alongside Sergio Canales, who will be tasked with the responsibility of offering the creative essence in the middle of the park.

Further creativity is expected from Betis’ three main chance creators in Rodri Sanchez, Juanmi and Nabil Fekir, though it won’t be surprising to see Pellegrini starting with either Loren Moron or Cristian Tello instead.

In either case, Fekir is going to be the creator-in-chief for Real Betis this weekend. The Frenchman’s ability to create chances, coupled with his set-piece prowess could go a long way in helping Borja Iglesias, the leader of the Betis frontline.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Silva; Montoya, Gonzalez, Ruiz, Miranda; Rodriguez, Canales; Sanchez, Fekir, Juanmi; Iglesias

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Real Madrid

Real Madrid are missing out on a few key players heading into this clash. Luka Modric had missed the Levante game due to a knock and he remains a doubt in this one, whereas Toni Kroos, Ferland Mendy and Dani Ceballos are sidelined.

Casemiro was one of the star performers in the last game, and in the absence of Modric and Kroos, will be asked to lead the Real Madrid midfield unit, comprising of him, Federico Valverde and Isco, who is a favourite to replace Modric after producing an impressive cameo against Levante.

Ancelotti, though, has committed Marco Asensio in a more central role so it won’t be surprising to see him start ahead of Isco either. But he is mainly an alternative for the wide attackers. Speaking of which, Gareth Bale may have to settle for the bench in this one, paving the way for in-form Vinicius Junior to return to the starting eleven.

The Brazilian should form the front three for Real Madrid, alongside Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard, who has a point to prove after a disappointing performance in the last game. These three offer a nice balance in the attacking third and could be devastating for Betis on the counter, potentially forcing Manuel Pellegrini’s men to defend deep.

Defensively, Dani Carvajal is in contention to start after appearing as a substitute against Levante. He should replace Lucas Vazquez at right-back while new signing David Alaba should continue on the opposite flank, in the absence of Mendy and Marcelo.

The central defensive duo should once again comprise Nacho Fernandez and Eder Militao as Real Madrid do not have too many alternatives. They will have to perform at the top of their game, though, having conceded three goals against Levante.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Carvajal, Nacho, Militao, Alaba; Valverde, Casemiro, Isco; Vinicius, Benzema, Hazard

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Key Stats

  • Real Betis have lost just one of their last five games against Real Madrid in La Liga: 2-3 at home in September 2020 after having lost four of the previous five.
  • Real Madrid have won on four of their last five visits to Real Betis in La Liga, with the only exception in this run being a 2-1 defeat in March 2020.
  • Real Madrid have won on their last five visits to Andalusian sides in Laliga, equally their longest away winning streak against such opposition. Should they win this match, it will be their longest away streak in Andalusia in the history of the competition (6).
  • Real Betis and Real Madrid are the teams with the current longest unbeaten runs in La Liga. Only Athletic Bilbao (12) have drawn more games in the competition in 2021 than Los Verdiblancos.
  • Real Madrid have scored seven goals in two La Liga games this season, their best scoring start after the first two games of a league campaign since 2011/12 under Jose Mourinho (10).

Player to Watch

Vinicius Junior

Vinicius Junior on his way out of Madrid? (Photo by Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images)

Vinicius Junior is on red hot form at the moment.(Photo by Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images)

Vinicius Junior is undoubtedly the most interesting player heading into this encounter, having had an excellent start to the campaign with three goals in two matches. But despite averaging a goal in every 18 minutes so far, he is yet to make a single start in the league under Ancelotti.

That could change this weekend as the Brazilian is tipped to replace either Bale or Hazard in the starting eleven. His pace, trickery and energy in the final third could certainly make a difference for Real Madrid attack that usually consists of experienced, technically astute stars, who know how to create chances or score goals.

In that respect, Vinicius offers a variety that Los Blancos so crave and with Mbappe likely to arrive at the Bernabeu, a solid performance against Real Betis could be essential as he looks to stay in the good books of Ancelotti.

Prediction

Real Betis 0-1 Real Madrid

Real Betis started the campaign without a single win in their two matches, but it won’t be surprising to see them remain strong defensively against Real Madrid, knowing a defeat could lead to pressure in September.

Los Blancos, though, have appeared quite prolific in attack in these first two games and might be good enough see through this game with all three points. However, we don’t expect the visitors to score too many goals in this contest, potentially playing out a cagey, low-scoring game.

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