It was another test of patience and temperament for Real Madrid. Real Betis would come hard and at one point they were ahead of the title holders. But in the end, the Royal Whites bounced back to bag full points.
The experiments of Zidane were expected. Wingers were left out. Jovic came in. Odegaard formed the tip of diamond. In the 2nd half Zidane had to change things. Real Madrid looked vulnerable in transitions. Fede Valverde was the best player on the pitch. Full points earned. pic.twitter.com/Ae0xXlOD1i
— Faisal Caesar (@faisalyorker1) September 27, 2020
The Los Blancos began their title defence with an underwhelming 0-0 stalemate with Real Sociedad, and while they were only marginally better in Seville, they just about made the most of their numerical advantage.
Real Madrid initially looked good value for their lead when Federico Valverde prodded them in front, but Betis showed excellent resilience to turn it around.
Aissa Mandi and William Carvalho did the damage in a three-minute salvo, the latter netting in successive games having not scored in his first 57 outings for the club.
Things began to look up for Madrid early in the second half when Emerson found his own net before then getting sent off, and Los Blancos completed the win thanks to Ramos’ Penanke eight minutes from time.
Victoria, remontada y el primero del curso… a la cazuela 🍳
Poco a poco y a por más.
A comeback, a win and off the mark for the season.
3 points to start and onwards.
📸 @LaLiga pic.twitter.com/wN5JHwFxh0
— Sergio Ramos (@SergioRamos) September 26, 2020
The coach of Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane experimented with his side, by getting rid of the wingers and making Luka Jovic the partner of Karim Benzema up front with Martin Odegaard lying behind them by forming the tip of the diamond midfield.
But Odegaard is not someone like Isco, who could perform both the attacking and defensive duties from that position slightly better, rather he more like a deep-lying player. His rigid presence at the top helped Betis to break the lines and catch Real Madrid during the transitions.
Then Sergio Ramos took risky decisions in the first half, which disturbed the shape of the formation on a couple of sequences. On William Carvalho’s go-ahead goal for Betis in the first half, Odegaard’s positioning in transition off the ball was clearly an issue.
14’ Real Betis 0-1 Real Madrid
35’ Real Betis 1-1 Real Madrid
37’ Real Betis 2-1 Real Madrid
— Goal (@goal) September 26, 2020
Betis took the lead in the first half as Real did not have the sense to control the ball despite having four at the center of the park. The players did not press higher enough. The defence kept a high-line, which gave spaces and struggled to cope with the pressure of Betis without the ball.
Isco was brought on in the second half, who positioned slightly left rather than staying rigid in the center.
Real Betis were vulnerable at the back also, and this became a back-and-forth, frenetic game where both teams had space in transition – sadly, both the teams lacked the quality in the midfield to exploit the spaces.
Real Madrid’s equalizer came in the 48th minute, where Fede Valverde’s quick diagonal ball to Dani Carvajal was followed by a ball into the box by Real Madrid’s right-back which was deflected into the goal by Emerson.
Emerson’s night got worse when, defending a Jovic breakaway, the Brazilian committed a foul on Real Madrid’s striker and earned a red card.
FC Barcelona’s Emerson with an own goal and red card vs Real Madrid, it’s a beautiful night!
— Ryan. (@Rygista) September 26, 2020
Jovic was dull – During his time on the Benito Villamarin pitch, Jovic didn’t shoot, create or even show that he wanted to be there.
The forward’s move to Los Blancos last summer, costing 60 million euros, has resulted in a disaster for all involved.
Zidane substituted him for Borja Mayoral, but at that point in time, either Vinicius Junior or Rodrygo Goes should have been on the pitch to exploit the fragile Betis defence.
Benzema, Mendy, and Ramos led by an example.
The leader https://t.co/7VomdvLimm
— cricketsoccer (@cricketsoccer) September 27, 2020
Valverde had been the best player on the pitch – linked-up well with the players high-up and dropped down to partner with the defenders and Casemiro.
Thibaut Courtois channeled his inner Gordon Banks with a save to deny Antonio Sanabria in the seventh minute. The Belgian imitated his English counterpart’s stunning stop against Pele from the 1970 World Cup with some impressive reflexes.
Fede Valverde vs Real Betis:
Big chances created: 2
Dribbles (completed): 3 (3)
Interceptions: 3 pic.twitter.com/3OQ9cCyQ8r
— cricketsoccer (@cricketsoccer) September 27, 2020
Critics complaining about the complicated decisions in the match on which Zidane said, “The referee is there to review the action. I think that in the end, it’s just what happened. He’s in charge. I never get involved with the referees and I’m not going to get involved today. The most important thing for us is the game we played at a difficult ground.”
The victory against Real Betis was Zinedine Zidane’s 100th in charge of Real Madrid in La Liga.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) September 26, 2020
The Frenchman has coached Los Blancos in 147 LaLiga Santander matches in total, with 55 at home and 45 away from home.
In those games, Zidane’s sides have scored 342 goals and conceded 142.
Only Miguel Munoz has won more La Liga matches in charge of Real Madrid than Zidane with 257.
As well as his centenary of victories, the former Real Madrid midfielder has won two LaLiga Santander titles – in 2016-17 and 2019-20.
A tough victory, but still a lot to improve.