Real Betis 2-1 Real Madrid: Report, Player Ratings & Reaction as Los Blancos Drop to 2nd in La Liga

?Real Madrid failed to take top spot back from Barcelona in La Liga after a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Real Betis on Sunday night.

The away side started brightly, with Clásico hero Vinícius Júnior cutting inside on the left-wing only to see his effort hit the side-netting. Yet Betis soon had a great chance of their own, with former Barça defender Marc Bartra somehow heading over the bar from directly in front of the Madrid goal.

Nabil Fekir then had his close-range shot tipped over brilliantly by Thibaut Courtois as Los Verdiblancos edged closer to an opening goal. And their first-half dominance paid off as centre-back Sidnei smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

With the Estadio Benito Villamarín rocking, Madrid needed to respond. And soon after, they received a penalty when Marcelo was tripped in the box by goal-scorer Sidnei, which was dispatched coolly by Karim Benzema on the stroke of half-time.

With the Betis midfield continuing to dominate in the second-half, Joaquín was through on goal and rounded Courtois, yet could not finish and Luka Modri? swiftly cleared the ball from danger. The Croatian then had a shot from long-range saved by Joel Robles, before substitute Ferland Mendy’s effort came off the crossbar as Los Blancos started to finally fight for control of the game.

Yet Betis were not going to give in, and an errant pass by Benzema was intercepted by Andres Guardado, before the Mexican played in substitute Cristian Tello who slid the ball past Courtois to restore their lead.

Los Blancos desperately tried to reply quickly, with Benzema, Sergio Ramos and substitute Mariano all going close in a frantic finish to the game, but they could not rescue a point.


Real Betis

Key Talking Point

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Casemiro,Nabil Fekir

With a team containing the talents of former ?Liverpool target Nabil Fekir, Sergio Canales and the ageless Joaquín, it is a surprise to see Real Betis sit in 14th place in ?La Liga.

Yet with six of their seven wins at the Estadio Benito Villamarín, they are not an easy team to play against on their turf. And it showed in the first-half, with the three mentioned talents running at the Madrid defence and causing havoc all around. They fully deserved to take the half-time lead through Sidnei’s brilliant strike and if not for ?Courtois’ excellent goalkeeping could have been ahead by more goals.

They were able to sustain their energy in the second-half, with Fekir and Canales excellent in creating openings for Los Verdiblancos, and outclassing their counterparts throughout, making their win fully deserved. Defensively in the dying stages, they were superb in keeping out the league leaders, putting their bodies on the line to secure the victory.

If they keep putting in performances like this, with the same defensive solidity and creativity in their midfield, there’s no reason why Betis can’t push for a higher position in the league.


Player Ratings

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Starting XI: Robles (6); Emerson (7), Sidnei (7), Bartra (7), Moreno (6); Canales (8*), González (7), Guardado (7); Fekir (8), Loren (7), Joaquín (7)

Substitutes: Tello (7), Rodríguez (6), Pedraza (N/A)


Sergio Canales

Sergio Canales,Toni Kroos

Betis won the midfield battle, and in part it was down to the efforts of Sergio Canales. The midfielder performed his defensive duties dutifully while also being a creative force, setting up clear chances with his superb passing against his former club.



Real Madrid

Key Talking Point

Joaquin,Marcelo,Toni Kroos

It was easy to get carried away with ?Madrid’s Clásico victory last weekend. Despite scoring twice, they had been poor in the attacking third with the likes of ?Benzema and Vinícius failing to create enough chances during the game.

And this game had a similar story. Despite having more possession in the first-half, Zidane’s side lacked creativity and potency in their attacks, creating a paltry four chances with only Benzema’s penalty being on-target for the league leaders. Their midfield of Casemiro, ?Toni Kroos and ?Modri? seemed to occupy each other’s space and struggled to create clear opportunities for the forwards to test former ?Everton goalkeeper Robles.

Midway through the second-half, Zidane snapped into action and made the decisive change in taking off Kroos for Mariano. It opened up the game as Los Blancos now had more space for the likes of Vinícius, Vázquez and the substitute to operate in, and looked to work instantly with the chances for Modri? and Mendy.

It was evident that the starting midfield three is an ineffective combination that Zidane needs to reconsider if his side are to solve their issue of creating attacking chances to win their remaining fixtures.

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Player Ratings

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Starting XI: Courtois (7); Militão (6), Ramos (6), Varane (6), Marcelo (6); Modri? (6), Casemiro (6), Kroos (5); Vázquez (6), Benzema (6), Vinícius (6)

Substitutes: Mendy (7), Mariano (7), Valverde (N/A)


Thibaut Courtois?

Courtois,Joaquin

The only reason Los Verdiblancos did not have more goals in the first-half was all down to the brilliance of Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian superbly tipped over Fekir’s half-volley and needed to bail out his defence on numerous occasions in the game.


Looking Ahead

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?Betis face city rivals Sevilla next Sunday, while Los Blancos host Eibar on Friday night.

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