First we should note, thanks to the fine folks over at Opta, that Real Madrid have not lost a season-opening match at the Bernabeu since 1984. In addition to that, Los Blancos have won their last four league matches against Real Betis in Madrid, averaging 3.7 goals in the process.
Pepe Mel's Betis enter the season looking to solidify and possibly improve on their impressive seventh place finish last term. Betis qualified for the Europa League and will hope their early season league form won't suffer under the burden of a congested fixture list, with a trip to the Czech Republic on the horizon immediately after playing Real Madrid.
It's hard to know just how this Real Betis side will look as they've undergone a close season of a tremendous flux, with a dizzying array of players on their way to and from Andalusia. Two of the more notable movements include the sale of Beñat Etxebarria (for a reported 8 million Euros) to Athletic Bilbao and the subsequent capture of Espanyol's Joan Verdu on a free transfer.
Betis will also welcome well-traveled defensive midfielder Xavi Torres from Getafe, left-back Didac Vila on a season long loan from AC Milan, as well as former Madridista Juanfran (who also joined Betis on a free transfer). Inside Spanish Football's Carlos Garcia has the entire lengthy list of Betis's summer arrivals and departures.
Promising young winger Alvaro Vadillo has attracted attention from all over Europe this summer and looks to be one of Betis's most promising attacking options heading into the season as he nears full fitness after his devastating injury in the fall of 2011. The versatile Ruben Castro is another attacking force to be wary of as he will look to build off of his more than respectable 18 goal tally last season.
Returning to Opta's consistently excellent research, Betis are one of only two clubs (Tenerife being the other) that Cristiano Ronaldo has not scored against at the Bernabeu. Something tells me that could be about to change. A strong case can be made that the La Liga title was lost over the first two months of last season and Carlo Ancelotti's men will certainly want to get off to a quick, decisive start in front of their home fans.
What do you all think?