The long wait for Carlo Ancelotti’s first official game at the helm of Real Madrid is finally over as los Blancos look to avoid another slow start to the season that ended up costing them the La Liga title last term. As always, Real Betis arrive at Santiago Bernabeu looking to play their own game and try to surprise their more illustrious opponents, which should make for an enthralling encounter in Madrid.
Key season for Real
Having failed to take advantage of Barcelona’s struggles last term, missing out on all three major titles, Real Madrid have got to try and make things right this season. Club chiefs seems to have found a perfect replacement for Jose Mourinho, with Carlo Ancelotti likely to improve what was a really poor dressing room atmosphere, especially since players’ favourite Zinedine Zidane has been appointed his assistant. While their pursuit of Gareth Bale continues, los Blancos have done some great business in the summer transfer window, adding the likes of Isco, Illarramendi and Carvajal to their ranks, which clearly shows a U-turn in transfer strategy and attempt to increase the number of domestic players in the squad. The Italian manager seems to have quickly gotten to grips with his new job given that Real Madrid were pretty convincing in pre-season, and everything suggests their good scoring run is set to continue in the league. With Karim Benzema not really taking full advantage of Gonzalo Higuain’s departure, Ancelotti could decide to move Cristiano Ronaldo to centre forward position, which would certainly make his side even more lethal up front. However, the back line could experience all sorts of problems in this match as a number of defence-minded players misses out.
Xabi Alonso, Raphael Varane, Pepe and Asier Illarramendi are out injured, while Fabio Coentrao and Denis Cheryshev are doubtful.
Difficult campaign on the cards
Real Betis were clearly one of the surprise packages last season, having even managed to mount a serious top 4 bid, although they eventually had to settle for Europa League qualification. And while European distractions are likely to prevent los Verdiblancos from giving their best in the league, that could be the least of their problems. Boss Pepe Mel will have some rebuilding to do after key players Benat, Campbell, Canas, Adrian and Pabon all left this summer and twelve new footballers arrived at Estadio Benito Villamarin. Team’s pre-season performances and victories over Huddersfield, Bolton and Wolves would suggest scoring goals won’t be an issue this term, with much expected of new signings Joan Verdu and Juanfran. One thing’s for sure though, regardless of all the worries, Real Betis will continue to play attacking football both home and away, making sure they remain considered one of the most entertaining sides in the elite division. After scoring against both Barcelona and Real Madrid on the road last term, los Verdiblancos look they can repeat the feat this time out, especially taking into account the defensive headache the opposition is facing.
Important attacker Ruben Castro misses out through injury, but there are no other worries for boss Pepe Mel ahead of the trip to the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid may be the hot favourites to win this one, but while they can be trusted to continue their goalscoring run, defensive problems are probably going to prevent them from keeping a clean sheet. Real Betis look much weaker than last term, but they, nonetheless, have enough quality to score at Santiago Bernabeu.
Top pick: Both teams to score 1.91 (10/11) @ Coral
Alternative pick 1: Over 3.5 goals 1.80 (4/5) @ Sportingbet
Alternative pick 2: Real Madrid to score 4 goals or more 2.60 (8/5) @ Betfred
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