Betis forced Madrid to back down in the League. With the lead within reach, at least for one night, Real was as dry as on the previous day with Getafe. Again he lacked shrapnel, despite having this time with the batteries of Benzema, Rodrygo, Asensio, Vinicius … And until a final moment of Hazard. Fogueo against a Betis as firm as in his three previous visits to Madrid, which he has left zero on all four occasions.
In Valdebebas two parties crossed. A calm one at the beginning and with another volume later. The marathon football of these unfortunate times forces cachazudo air encounters in some sections. Madrid had it and Betis had it in the first half in which everyone regulated. Nothing to do with the give and take after the intermission.
Before turning up the volume, Pellegrini’s men came out determined to fiddle with the ball. As neat with Canales at the head of his midfield cabinet as not very scathing in the Courtois perimeter. The chatter with the ball allowed the Verdiblancos to put the game in neutral. Contemplative of someone else’s chat, it took the local team to ask for an appointment. He did it, without much fanfare, based on Carvajal’s frenzy – which the frequent steps through the infirmary do not diminish – and a couple of Benzema’s dances. Enough for Betis to lose the thread, recoil and move further away from Courtois, a spectator of the contest in the first period. Not much more attention required Claudio Bravo, only disturbed before the break by a maneuver by Benzema.
The Chilean goalkeeper had a greater impact with his feet, as the first Betic season when articulating the game, than with gloves. If the goalkeeper managed to connect his team at ground level, Betis at least floated with the ball. If the decision was to put the ball in flight, Militão and Varane, with Casemiro in the lead, won every round. With Pellegrini, the team has gained a lot of consistency in a leaky trench in recent seasons. Mandi and Víctor Ruiz have closed ranks, with Guido as an effective anchor. Another thing is the Betis attack. The damn short football blanket.
In a duel without much scrubbing, no one was categorical. Rodrygo was not bidding, just Asensio. And on the other side, Lainez became more entangled than necessary, Joaquín did not weigh in, and Borja Iglesias was an outsider for his alleged comrades. Betis yearned for Canales, Madrid for Benzema. There were other alternatives. For example, the distant shot, with the Alfredo di Stéfano as watered by the field hoses as by the rain on the capital. But the duel lacked audacity. El Real waiting for a spark, to roll the dice. Betis, so hot against an opponent with little bone this time. As proof: a shot on goal by Zidane’s men before the intermission and one, but outside, by Pellegrini’s.
There was another mood after the break. More willing Madrid, Betis found cracks that before his rival was shirtless, there was hardly any. With horizons, Lainez, always aided by the powerful Emerson, had a stir. An adventure by the Mexican was wonderfully seconded by Canales, who cited Borja Iglesias with Courtois. The Galician striker, with the Belgian goalkeeper in the nose, did not react expertly. Shortly before, Rodrygo crashed a cross into Bravo’s crossbar. The game had a round trip. Another rhythm, another chicha. The midfield, so loved by everyone in the first act, was no longer a simple halt.
Real blocked against Bravo and Betis with another ease, Zidane sheltered with three centrals and ventilated the sides with Odriozola and Marcelo. By then Madrid already had the Vinicius turbo. The game, so parsimonious from the start, took height, with no one to wrinkle. Of course, no madridista. But neither did any Betic, with the team willing to negotiate victory, nothing of a simple draw. As offensive were the relays ordered by Zidane as those executed by Pellegrini. Among the former, the resurrected Hazard had a journey of just over a quarter of an hour. The same as Casemiro as an attacker, already without ties with the irruption in the clash of Blanco. Hazard left some stamp, but this time Vinicius was not a leading actor. There are times when you want to play faster than possible.
Without remedies Madrid, Betis finally accepted the draw, as in the four previous meetings. A setback for the whites, two points behind Atlético with one more game. La Liga has it two points further.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.