The best option for any season is not to digest a defeat in away games. Either you draw or give your best to bag full points, but a defeat does hamper the campaign. Of course, the intent of not losing points against the lower-ranked teams should always be the priority. Real Madrid know this very well and at Seville, against Real Betis, they showed character in a hard-fought battle to bag full points.

It was a typically hard-fought battle between the two sides in Andalusia, with Carvajal’s classy finish proving to be the difference to send Real Madrid into the international break on a high note.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti made the decision to go with Dani Carvajal and Miguel Gutierrez as full-backs, while Vinicius got the nod ahead of Eden Hazard in the attack.

The young Brazilian nearly repaid Ancelotti’s faith in him right away by creating the game’s first chance with a move and a cut-back pass for Karim Benzema, who fired wide.

Betis were creating some headaches, too, and habitual giant-killer Nabil Fekir forced Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois into a tough stretch save.

A pair of offside calls negated a herculean save from Betis goalkeeper Rui Silva and a goal for Benzema, but it was reflective of Real Madrid’s superiority to start the second stanza.

Moments after Juanmi spoiled a chance for Betis, the opener would arrive shortly after the hour mark when Vinicius did well to keep a ball in play, allowing Benzema to swing a ball across and Carvajal latching onto it first-time with a volley that beat Rui Silva to make it 1-0.

Ancelotti’s first change saw Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez on for Gareth Bale and Isco, as Real Madrid sought a second. Asensio nearly delivered when he won a ball at midfield and had a goal at goal, but his shot skipped wide.

The next substitution was Vinicius making way for Hazard, followed by Rodrygo on for the injured Miguel Gutierrez, forcing Ancelotti to shuffle around his players for the final minutes.

It looked like it was going to be a calm final few minutes for Los Blancos, but Betis had one last look at the death with some playmaking coming from former Barcelona man Cristian Tello, who found another former Barcelona man, Martin Montoya, all alone in the box, but the shot went right to Courtois, who secured the ball as the final whistle sounded.

Ancelotti went for 4-3-3 again and various tactical tweaks and touches could be seen. The link-up and interchange of the full-backs and midfielders, for example, or Miguel moving inside to open up space for Vini Jr. He also moved Vinicius inside later on to shake things up. The Italian used the situation to try different things and achieved a good result despite a few key absences.

“It was a difficult game, in the second half we controlled it better, we improved in everything: passes, pressure…our play wasn’t spectacular, but we kept a clean sheet, which was important,” said Ancelotti.

“In the first half, we lacked intensity in defence. The changes are to refresh and in the second half, we upped the intensity. We can play with more intensity.”

Thibaut Courtois thwarted Betis attacks when they approached his area and helped play out from the back in possession. Carvajal linked up well with Valverde and covered his flank well defensively while Eder Militao was very good during the aerial battles.

David Alaba played an important role in build-up play, showing his class throughout and not putting a foot wrong.

Miguel Gutierrez looked confident, even in tight situations. He thwarted a two-on-one Betis had, denying what would have been a great goal-scoring chance and Carvajal’s goal came from the ensuing counter.

At the centre of the park Casemiro and Valverde remained steady as ever and never let the opposition take the upper hand.


Vinicius Junior who played 78 minutes enjoyed yet another impressive outing. He always caused problems when he got on the ball – tackled back as well, which would please Ancelotti.

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