Scouting Real Madrid's Competition: Betis

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Betis is quietly surprising every football fan this season. The Andalusian team is currently 7th in the Liga BBVA table, ahead of Sevilla and Valencia.

What's Betis secret? The thing is, they probably don't have any secrets. What they do have is midfielder Beñat. The Basque midfielder was reportedly linked to a move to join Athletic Bilbao, and it's obvious that Bielsa's team would be in a very different situation with him on the roster.

Beñat is a playmaker, even though he plays in the defensive part of the midfield. He could be compared to Xabi Alonso, even though Real Madrid's midfielder has a much more appropriate body to play in that position. Last season, Beñat and Iriney gave Real Madrid a really good headache when Mourinho's team visited the Benito Villamarín. Iriney moved to Granada this summer, so Beñat now plays alongside Cañas or Rubén Pérez. It'll be very hard to have a comfortable game against this Betis team, so Real Madrid should first take profit of Betis' average defensive line and lack of firepower.

It's very hard to prevent Betis from getting the ball, and that's why Pepe Mel's team has only conceded nine goals so far. And five of them came this past week against Sevilla, when Reyes and his Sevilla teammates beat Betis in one of the most beautiful rivalries in Spain.

In Betis' defensive line, Mario and Paulao are having a great season. They are Betis' center backs, and it's very hard to go through them, even though they are not Levante's Ballesteros and David Navarro. Betis isn't great in the fullbacks, though. They should have a big problem trying to stop Ángel Di María's pace, and if the Argentinian plays smart, that's where Real Madrid should try to take advantage. Álex Martínez is not enough to stop el fideo, but he will surely get help from his teammates.

It's also time for Cristiano Ronaldo to score. The Portuguese player has not been able of finding the back of the net for two consecutive games, even though he's played well in both of them. Ronaldo needs to be patient. His time and goal-scoring opportunities will surely come, and with Karim Benzema's ability to pass the ball and assist him, Betis' Nelson should also have a hard time trying to stop the Portuguese star.

Pepe Mel usually plays with a 4-2-3-1 formation. In that three-man offensive line, Salva Sevilla, Agra and Juan Carlos try to get the ball to Jorge Molina or Rubén Castro. There's a slim chance of seeing both players featuring against Real Madrid, in what could be a wise move by Pepe Mel trying to push back Madrid's defensive line. Castro is Betis' top scorer with six goals, but Molina has also notched four so far.

Nigerian midfielder Nosa played a wonderful game against Valencia. He knows how to press the opposition's playmakers, so if Pepe Mel puts him on the lineup, Betis could recover the ball a little bit sooner than what Real Madrid expected.

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