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Real Madrid favorites to make bottom club Betis suffer

English.news.cn   2014-01-17 19:06:29

MADRID, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid play away to struggling Betis on Saturday afternoon knowing they have the chance to go level on points, for a short while at least, with League leaders FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Carlo Ancelotti's side were able last week to take advantage of the draw between both sides in the Vicente Calderon Stadium to close the gap at the top of the table to just three points and with both Barca and Atletico facing tough matches this weekend, that gap could be closer by Sunday night.

Barca are away to a rugged Levante, while Atletico entertain an in-form Sevilla in the Vicente Calderon.

Compared to those two games, Real Madrid's match away to rock bottom Betis looks to be a relative walk in the park. Betis have just 11 points from their first 19 games of the season and are currently seven points from safety.

They were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Club Bilbao on Wednesday night, although that turn out to be a blessing in disguise for coach Juan Carlos Garrido, who has not been able to stimulate any reaction since replacing Pepe Mel at the start of December.

Indeed things have gone from bad to worse under Garrido and the former Villarreal boss has seen just two wins (both in the Copa del Rey) in his nine matches in charge.

That spell has seen home defeats against fellow strugglers, Almeria and Osasuna and his team also lost 5-1 away to Real Sociedad. There is even a chance that a heavy defeat on Saturday could cost Garrido his job after less than two months in charge.

Real Madrid meanwhile travel with their moral sky high after progressing comfortably to the last eight of the Copa del Rey with an easy win against Osasuna in a week where they closed the gap on Barca and Atletico Madrid in the league and saw Cristiano Ronaldo finally win the Balon D' Or award on Monday.

That is not to say Madrid are playing especially well; nobody could say Ancelotti's team were at their best against Espanyol last weekend, or that they deserved to beat Celta Vigo 3-0 a week earlier, but the fact is that with Ronaldo in form and ably assisted by Karim Benzema, Jese Rodriguez and Gareth Bale, Madrid have the firepower to beat sides even when they are not at their best.

Luka Modric's contribution has also been vital in recent weeks, while the defense also looks back to its miserly best, with the exception of left backs Fabio Coentrao and Marcelo, who have been slightly off the pace of late.

There will be a fine atmosphere in the Benito Villamarin Stadium on Saturday as Betis look for a miracle they so desperately need, but the feeling is the home side are drinking in the last chance saloon, while Real Madrid continue their quest for the title.

Editor: Fu Peng
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