It’s been just over a month since Betis’ last La Liga victory. Since that 2-0 victory at Rayo Vallecano, Betis have lost two home games (both 1-3) and snatched a 1-1 draw away at Granada.
It’s fair to say there is a very limp atmosphere transcending through the club of late, which is fairly typical of Betis: the highs are very high and the lows are very low. Although Athletic Bilbao were impressive last time out, Betis matched them in a diametrically opposed manner by being impressively poor.
Betis 18: Adán, Dani Giménez; Molinero, Piccini, Bruno, Pezzella, Westermann, Varela; Digard, Portillo, Petros, Cejudo, Joaquín, Ceballos, Van der Vaart, Xavi Torres; Rubén Castro & Van Wolfswinkel.
Just the two recognised strikers in the Betis squad – Rubén Castro and Van Wolfswinkel. Jorge Molina has been dropped from the squad, which is likely to be the beginning of the end for this Betis stalwart, and Rennella is injured. Although Juan Vargas has been training this week, there’s no room for him in the squad.
Disappointingly, Alfred N’Diaye, who’s one of few players to show any cojones of late, is injured and will be out for around a month. After Digard’s good appearance during the second half against Athletic, it’s likely he will get the nod and take N’Diaye’s place.
This may be the week where we see Van der Vaart make his way into the starting eleven. Los verdiblancos are in desperate need of someone capable of putting their foot on the ball and dictating play in the middle which no one has managed to do – hopefully VdV can step up to the plate.
Still no room for Alvaro Vadillo, much to my dismay. He’s young and he’s erratic but he can be a game changer. He’s a fantastic talent and I think given a bit of time, he can prove to be a really good player, but doesn’t look like Pepe Mel has got much faith in him.
In some good news, Westermann is back in the squad and should slip back into his centre back partnership with Bruno.
If we think things haven’t been rosy at Betis, they’ve probably been worse at Málaga. Our fellow Andalucians have won just 2 out of 10 and are sitting precariously in 17th place. They have a few injuries for tonight too; noticeable absentees are Camacho, Amrabat and Roque Santa Cruz.
However, they still have good players on the field such as striker Charles and goalkeeper Kameni. They also have a very young and exciting talent likely to be on the bench in Mastour. He’s currently on loan from AC Milan but at the age of 17 he is already a full Moroccan international.
There two victories have both come in their last two home games – to Deportivo and Real Sociedad – both of which have been in the last month, so they are in good form and on the up and will provide tough opposition.
The game kicks off at La Roselada at 21:05 GMT (22:05 Spanish).