Having endured a rocky start to their 2016-17 campaign, Real Betis are returning to action following the international break with a high-profile match against the reigning European Champions Real Madrid. Los Blancos have also struggled to find their footing of late and will be keen to get back to winning ways on Saturday night.
Poyet’s early struggles
Having been brought toward the end of last season, Gus Poyet had an entire preseason to get ready for the new La Liga season with Real Betis. The Uruguay tactician had spent the majority of his playing and managerial career in England and his first task was to implement “English mentality and intensity” in his new team. Poyet did not get off to a flying start and the early struggles he is experiencing with Los Beticos are proof that the 47-year-old will not have it easy in La Liga. The current season is a defining one for both the manager and the club and Real Betis will be urged to make an instant improvement to their early domestic records. Only two wins in first seven rounds are by no means the satisfactory result, more so knowing that Betis are lingering dangerously close to the relegation zone. Having lost at Real Sociedad prior to the international break, Real Betis need a swift recovery which is easier said than done considering they will welcome Real Madrid at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Antonio Sanabria and Rafa Navarro are close to full fitness and could be involved in the forthcoming clash. The same can’t be said for Aissa Mandi, Riza Durmisi and Jonas Martin who are all ruled out with injuries.
Zidane’s injury woes
Stating that Real Madrid are in the middle of a crisis might be a bit of an exaggeration, but Los Blancos are most definitely in not a good place right now after four consecutive stalemates that have put a serious dent in their title credentials. Zinedine Zidane’s men are yet to be defeated in the La Liga and that is the only positive thing amidst the poor patch that Los Blancos are hoping will be put to an end in the first match after the international break. Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is facing another great challenge at Estadio Benito Villamarin, which will have been made even more difficult given the current selection headaches the French legend is having prior to the trip to Seville. Things haven’t really changed much for Zidane since the turn of the season as the Frenchman is having plenty of problems choosing his line-up game in and game out. His options have been severely reduced due to a string of injuries to key players and that is something which can be of crucial significance in the Saturday’s match.
Club’s captain Sergio Ramos has picked up an injury at international duty which will keep him on the sidelines for the next six weeks. Key man in midfield Luka Modric is having knee problems, while Casemiro is yet to shake off his ankle injury. In-form James Rodriguez is struggling with a thigh injury while Marcelo’s calf problem will keep him out for about three weeks.
It’s been four years since Real Betis last defeated Real Madrid. They did it in the league, at their own turf and there is no doubt that home fans will be hoping for a similar outcome this time. Much has changed since them however and knowing that Los Blancos scored 16 goals in last five meetings with Real Betis will offer no reassurance to home side.
Top pick: Real Madrid/Real Madrid 2.00 (1/1) @Ladbrokes
Alternative pick 1: Real Madrid to win to Nil 2.63 (13/8) @Bet365
Alternative pick 2: Both teams to score – No 2.45 (29/20) @BetVictor