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Real Madrid went down 1-0 to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-finals on Thursday
Carlo Ancelotti’s side are chasing down Barcelona in the La Liga title race this term
Real Betis are targeting Champions League qualification, so this could be a close game
The odds for Real Betis vs Real Madrid are from the DraftKings sportsbook, which is giving out a deposit bonus worth up to $1000 right now.
This promises to be an entertaining match in La Liga, with goals at both ends likely.
Back both teams to score and over 2.5 goals when Real Betis host Real Madrid this weekend. (+120)
It has been a week of mixed emotions for Real Madrid. Last weekend, they were held to a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu by Atletico Madrid. That was a disappointing outcome - and not only because Atletico have struggled at the home of their cross-city rivals in recent years.
The visitors to the Bernabeu were reduced to 10 men in the 64th minute when Angel Correa was shown a red card. Yet Atletico still managed to score the first goal of the game and went on to pick up a point despite their numerical disadvantage.
The following day, though, that 1-1 draw suddenly looked like a decent result for Madrid. Barcelona suffered a shock 1-0 defeat by Almeria, which means the Blancos actually gained ground on their arch-rivals at the summit of the standings. Heading into this weekend, the gap between the pair stands at seven points.
On Thursday, the two contenders in the La Liga title race went head-to-head in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. An Eder Militao own goal was the difference between the two teams, giving Barcelona a 1-0 advantage ahead of the return fixture in April.
The result was a negative one for Madrid, but there was not much wrong with their performance. Ancelotti’s team were superior on the night, dominating chances and creating more chances than their opponents. In truth, it was something of a smash-and-grab from Barcelona.
Performances are important, of course, but results will be king for Madrid from now until the conclusion of the campaign in June. They cannot afford to drop many more points in La Liga, such is the deficit to Barcelona. Anything less than a win this weekend could potentially leave them with too much ground to make up.
Real Betis’ hopes of a top-four finish were dented after a run of three defeats in four matches in January and February. The last of those losses, a chaotic 4-3 reverse at the hands of Celta Vigo, saw Betis slip to seventh in the standings.
They have bounced back well since then, though, winning three games on the bounce to re-enter the conversation for Champions League qualification. Manuel Pellegrini’s men are up to fifth, just two points behind Atletico Madrid in fourth.
Betis narrowly missed out on the top four last season. They ultimately missed out by five points, but a Copa del Rey triumph softened the blow. Regardless, finishing behind Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid would have constituted an overachievement, and the same would be true this year too.
But make no mistake: Betis are right in the mix. They are only three points adrift of third-placed Real Sociedad, who could falter as we approach the business end of the campaign.
Pellegrini’s side could do with a big result against a team above them in the table, not just to pick up three points but to make a statement of intent. They lost to Barcelona, Madrid, and Atletico in the first half of the campaign, although they did run out 2-0 winners against Real Sociedad away from home.
Betis have a tough run of fixtures coming up, with Madrid, Villarreal, and Atletico among their upcoming opponents. A positive result against the champions on Saturday would be a major boost for what lies ahead.
This will not be an easy game for Real Madrid. They have not had much time to prepare following that Copa del Rey clash with Barcelona; Betis, conversely have had a full week to rest and recuperate after a 3-2 defeat of Elche last weekend.
Betis have won only one of their last six home games, yet they still have a good record at the Benito Villamarin. Indeed, only Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Villarreal have accumulated more points in front of their own fans this season.
Madrid would do well to keep a clean sheet on Sunday. Based on expected goals, only the top two are creating more chances than Betis in 2022/23. And in their four outings in February, Pellegrini’s men scored 11 goals.
Equally, Madrid should not have too much trouble finding the back of the net. It would not be a surprise if they started the match slowly, but the Blancos should grow into it as time wears on. They are La Liga’s top scorers, with an average of over two goals per game up to now.
Over 2.5 goals and both teams to score looks like the most astute selection when Real Betis entertain Real Madrid this weekend.
Teams: Real Betis vs Real Madrid
Location: Estadio Benito Villamarin, Seville, Spain
Time: Mar. 5, 2023, 3 p.m. EST
How to Watch: ESPN+
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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