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Real Madrid Vs. Real Betis Preview: Blancos Look To Find FIFA Antivirus

Hopefully Mesut will be able to build on his impressive performance with Germany over the weekend.
Hopefully Mesut will be able to build on his impressive performance with Germany over the weekend.

Real Madrid will host recently-promoted, and even-more-recently-first-place Real Betis at the Bernabéu on Saturday evening; los blancos will be looking to solidify their attack, with Gonzalo Higuaín in rare form, and Mesut Özil looking to build on his international break performance with Germany. Historically, Real Madrid hasn't fared particularly well coming off international breaks, however (though main rival FC Barcelona has been far worse), but this break seems to have gone Madrid's way, with only a few minor players suffering from the "FIFA virus."

Heading into the match, Madrid's biggest question marks will come on defense: with Raphaël Varane, Raúl Albiol and Ricardo Carvalho nursing an injuries, the once-strong center of the defense is looking a bit thin. Pepe will make his long-awaited return from his own injury, and it's appearing likely that José Mourinho will slot Sergio Ramos next to the Portuguese enforcer in the center.

This move would open up the right side for a tired-out Álvaro Arbeloa (he played every minute of Spain's two victories), though it is possible (albeit unlikely) that Mourinho could choose to rest Arbeloa and slot Lassana Diarra or Fabio Coentrão into the RB role. We'll see how the injuries play out in the next couple days.

Unfortunately for Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo is also on injury-watch, though he did practice with the squad in Valdebebas today, and looks fit to start on Saturday. The portuguese superstar, who recently described people who chant "Messi! Messi!" at him as "abnormal," seems confident in his ability to maintain his form for los vikingos.

Karim Benzema might be able to start at striker for Madrid, though I find it extremely doubtful: there's no reason to rush him back with Higuaín playing at this level.

In even more injury-related news, Nuri Sahin, the long-awaited central midfielder, might be able to make his debut on Saturday. Unfortunately, I still don't think he'll be able to go, as he's just recently been cleared to play: I doubt Mourinho will want to risk him this soon after getting him back.

I know I seemed optimistic earlier in the article, but I'm beginning to rethink it: Betis was playing some of the better soccer in la Liga up until their last match, and Madrid are looking pretty hobbled on defense. While Betis is certainly a beatable team, Mourinho's boys will certainly have to watch their backs if they want to escape from this one with the three points.

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