Real Madrid will be desperate to make amends for the goalless draw with Sporting Gijon when they host fellow newcomers Real Betis at their Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday night. Los Verdiblancos came from a goal behind to earn one point against Villarreal and they head into the clash in Madrid without any pressure.
Poor start for Benitez
Nobody knows what Real Madrid chiefs were thinking when they decided to get rid of Carlo Ancelotti and appoint Rafael Benitez in his place and this move could end up costing them dearly this season. Los Blancos have yet to make any big name signings apart from Mateo Kovacic, with David De Gea’s arrival at Santiago Bernabeu still in doubt. The team did not look too impressive in pre-season, failing to score against both Bayern Munich and Valerenga, and the lack of confidence proved to be a major issue in the first competitive match of the season. As expected, Real Madrid completely outclassed newcomers Sporting Gijon, but missed a host of clear-cut chances and eventually had to settle for a goalless draw. Real Madrid players will now be eager to show that they have plenty of room for improvement and we have absolutely no doubts that los Blancos will attack their less illustrious opponents from the off. This also means that Real Betis should have quite a few opportunities to hit the hosts on the break, so chances are we are going to see a highly entertaining encounter.
Karim Benzema and Pepe both return from injury, meaning Rafael Benitez will have fully fit squad to select from, although Asier Illarramendi and Lucas Silva have left the club.
Back to La Liga
Real Betis did well to return to the elite division after spending just one year in Segunda, and the club officials are determined to avoid another relegation to the second division. With the club still held in high regard in Europe, los Verdiblancos were able to attract some high-profile players to Estadio Benito Villamarin, with the likes of Rafael van der Vaart, Heiko Westerman, Juan Manuel Vargas and Didier Digard joining among others. Everybody at the club is hoping they will be able to add Real Betis icon Joaquin Sanchez to that list, with the winger refusing to train with Fiorentina as he hopes to return to Seville. And with coach Pepe Mel is waiting for the new signings to gel, his side did well to outplay very good Villarreal side, even if they ended up scoring a late goal to salvage one point. The team clearly has plenty of attacking potential and while they cannot be expected to shock Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, we do expect them to score at least one goal past Keylor Navas.
Former Real Madrid star Rafael van der Vaart misses a return to Santiago Bernabeu through an ankle problem, while fellow summer recruit Didier Digard is out as well.
Even if they failed to score in Gijon, Real Madrid created plenty of chances in that match and they can be trusted to turn on the style against Real Betis. Meanwhile, los Verdiblancos are more than capable of scoring at the Bernabeu, meaning we should see a high-scoring match.
Top pick: Both teams to score 2.10 (11/10) @ 888sport
Alternative pick 1: Home win + both teams to score 2.45 (29/20) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Real Betis +2.5 AH 1.92 (23/25) @ bet365