Real Betis – Athletic Club: Tidy Betis Fend Off Athletic Club (1-0)
This was a fairly even match between two sides in the hunt for European football next season. Real Betis showed the defensive solidity and organization that they have lacked for much of the season, and this helped them maintain their single goal lead over Athletic Club even after going down a man late on in the match.
Tactical analysis and match report by Charlie Tuley.
Manuel Pellegrini’s Real Betis came into this game in a very poor run of form, with the club winless in their last five outings across LaLiga, the Europa League, and the Copa del Rey. Real Betis had dropped out of the top four in LaLiga after their consecutive losses to Sevilla and Atlético Madrid, and Pellegrini was in desperate need of some points (and momentum) to try and right the ship.
Pellegrini handed Rui Silva the start in goal against Athletic Club, the Portugeuse’s first appearance since his side’s 0-0 draw with Zenit St. Petersburg in the Europa League round of 32. His four man defense was made up of Youssouf Sabaly, Germán Pezzella, Marc Bartra, and Juan Miranda, with Guido Rodríguez and Paul Akoukou making up the central midfield duo ahead of them. Nabil Fekir, Serio Canales, and Juanmi made up the forward portion of Real Betis’ midfield, with Borja Iglesias leading the line against Athletic Club.
Like Real Betis, Athletic Club have not been in the best form of late. They were recently knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Valencia in the semi-finals, and suffered a humbling 4-0 defeat to the currently on-fire Barcelona. They had only won two matches from their last five, though one of . . .