Paul Murray´s Pre-Match thoughst – Fix. 3
Preview: Real Betis v Real Sociedad
Third match of the season offers a difficult away trip to Seville to meet newly promoted Real Betis. They have so far only collected 1 point this season after an opening day 1-1 home draw against Villarreal. Their last fixture saw them heavily defeated 5-0 away at Real Madrid.
This match could offer La Reala a reasonable chance for all 3 points as Betis can definitely be scored against, however we will need to get our goal shy forwards fired up to break our current 2 match goal drought. 180 minutes played and only 4 shots on target does not offer much encouragement for a goal feast but I am confident that Vela and Jonathas are better than that and their quality will soon be translated into goals and points.
The major negative today is that Inigo Martinez looks like missing the match due to a hip injury.
This is a substantial blow for us as the defensive partnership he has formed with the impressive Diego Reyes has looked very solid. Inigo is likely to be replaced by either Ansotegi or Mikel, both of which could make us defensively vulnerable as both are right footed whereas Inigo is left footed.
Both Ansotegi and Mikel are great club servants but the introduction of either will unbalance our central defensive unit. Mikel was a first choice player for many years but over the last 2 injury hit seasons he has become very accident prone and this in conjunction with his lack of recent match time could result in him becoming a liability today. I hope we play Ansotegi as even with his lack of pace I think it would be a safer option and his commitment is always admirable. I would expect Diego Reyes will move to the left side today to accommodate his new partner in their usual position.
Joseba Zaldua should also be available to play at right back today which will strengthen our defence. Aritz Elustondo has done well in his absence but Zaldua is more experienced and better going forward.
With the uncertainty in our central defence I think we must select Markel with Illarra today to protect Reyes and his new partner. It would be foolish to leave our central defence exposed especially when we have the players to form an effective midfield defensive screen. We also must cover the area in front of our back 4 where Van der Vaart can operate so effectively. The selection of Markel and Illarra will close this space down which may prove vital.
I also hope we start Canales today in place of Prieto who has been very ineffective this season.
Bookmakers make Betis favourites but I believe we can hope for better. I predict we will finally score today and gain a draw.