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La Liga Match Preview: Real Betis vs Atlético Madrid

Arguably the biggest match of the upcoming La Liga weekend will take place in Seville on Sunday evening, as Real Betis welcome Atlético Madrid to Estadio Benito Villamarin.

Real Betis are third in the table, Los Verdiblancos booked their spot in the Copa del Rey final on Thursday evening courtesy of a 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano in the second leg of their semi-final, while fifth-placed Atlético Madrid will enter the contest off the back of a crucial 2-0 win over Celta Vigo in the league last weekend

STYLE OF PLAY

Real Betis would be playing their tested and trusted 4-3-2-1 formation, when Pellegrini’s men are in possession with Guido Rodríguez, and Sergio Canales in central midfield while Nabil Fekir and Cristian Tello flanking Borja Iglesias as forwards. Betis are built play from the back, withdrawing a central midfielder into their defensive line when the opposition press.

Atlético Madrid coach, Diego Simeone may go with his usual 4-4-2 formation or decide to play the 3-5-2 formation in a bid to try and shut out their opponent. One certainty though is that the Los Rojiblancos will be on the defensive for a better part of the game as they try to keep their opponent at bay and try to hit them on the break.

FORM

Real Betis looked to be heading for extra-time in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Thursday, with Bebe levelling the aggregate scores at 2-2 in the 80th minute, but Borja Iglesias came up with a 92nd-minute effort for the hosts to secure a 3-2 success, with the Seville outfit progressing to the final.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men are enjoying an excellent La Liga campaign, currently sitting third in the table on 46 points, but they are only two points clear of sixth-placed Real Sociedad, so their position in the top four is far from secure, and it will be a busy end to the campaign for the club. Real Betis have won two of their last three in the league, but they suffered a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla last weekend and will be aware that a couple of poor results in quick succession could see them drop out of the top four.

Atlético Madrid, meanwhile, have responded positively to their shock 1-0 home loss to Levante on February 16, winning their last two in the league against Osasuna and Celta Vigo without conceding a goal. Last time out, Renan Lodi scored a brace against Celta, with the result leaving Diego Simeone’s side in fifth position in the table, level on points with fourth-placed Barcelona.

The race for the top four is absolutely fascinating, with a number of clubs battling for the two positions behind Real Madrid and Sevilla, and Atletico will be desperate to ensure that they finish inside the UCL spots, as their title defence this term has been incredibly disappointing. Los Rojiblancos away form in La Liga this season has been disappointing, picking up just 18 points from 13 matches, and they will be taking on a Real Betis side that have won seven of their 13 home league matches this season.

HEAD TO HEAD

Real Betis and Atlético Madrid have faced each other 40 times, Atlético Madrid seem get the better of Real Betis when it matters most in recent years. Real Betis have won 7 times while Atlético Madrid have won 23 times, there are 10 draws between the two Spanish clubs.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Juanmi is the player to watch for Real Betis, the Spaniard will pose a huge threat to the opponent, Juanmi has 12 goals and 1 assist in 21 matches. Joao Felix is the player to watch for Atlético Madrid, the Portuguese has scored 3 goals and provided 3 assists in 18 matches for Los Rojiblancos.

TEAM NEWS

Real Betis: Real Betis will be without key midfielder Sergio Canales through suspension, while Victor Camarasa, Juan Miranda and Martin Montoya are out of the contest through injury. Head coach Pellegrini will make changes from the side that started against Rayo in the Copa del Rey, with Iglesias set to return at centre-forward, while Cristian Tello could replace Canales on the right. Hector Bellerin is also pushing to return at right-back, while there should be a spot in the middle of the defence for Victor Ruiz, with Edgar Gonzalez dropping down to the bench.

Atlético Madrid: Stefan Savic will miss the match through suspension, and the centre-back is also carrying a muscular problem, which would have likely ruled him out regardless of the ban. Mario Hermoso, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Matheus Cunha and Daniel Wass will also be unavailable for the Spanish champions this weekend through injury. Simeone is expected to make changes from the side that started against Celta last time out, with Thomas Lemar, Rodrigo De Paul and Felipe all likely to come into the team. Luis Suarez, Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann are all now available following recent problems, but it would not be a surprise to see the trio start the match on the bench.

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PREDICTED LINEUP

Real Betis: Bravo; Bellerin, Pezzella, Ruiz, Moreno; Rodriguez, Carvalho; Tello, Fekir, Juanmi; Iglesias

Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Felipe, Gimenez, Reinildo; Vrsaljko, Llorente, Lemar, De Paul, Lodi; Felix, Correa

VERDICT

Atletico will certainly be the fresher of the two teams, which is likely to count for a lot in this type of match. Real Betis have been so impressive in the league this season, though, and we believe that the home team will have enough quality to secure a share of the spoils on Sunday night. Real Betis 1-1 Atletico Madrid

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