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Thursday 23. May 2024 - 10:21

Preview: Real Madrid vs. Real Betis - prediction, team news, lineups

Concluding a near-faultless 2023-24 La Liga campaign, Real Madrid welcome Europa Conference League-bound Real Betis to Bernabeu on Saturday evening.

Carlo Ancelotti's troops are already sailing off into the title sunset, while their visitors will not move from their seventh-placed position, making this weekend's affair little more than a dead rubber.

Refusing to rest on their laurels since ripping the La Liga crown out of Barcelona's grasp, Real Madrid scored at least four goals for the third La Liga match running in last weekend's encounter with Villarreal, having previously put Alaves and Granada to the sword in merciless fashion.

Fledgling talent Arda Guler struck twice alongside efforts from Joselu and Lucas Vazquez, but the Blancos defence were only too happy to aid Alexander Sorloth's quest for the Golden Boot, shipping a mammoth four goals to the Norwegian attacker alone in an eight-goal extravaganza.

A spectacular watch for the neutrals and arguably the Real Madrid fanbase - whose side had already wrapped up the title some weeks ago - that engrossing 4-4 draw leaves Ancelotti's crop on 94 points at the top of the division, their highest total since reaching the coveted 100 in 2011-12 under Jose Mourinho.

Ancelotti's current iteration of Real Madrid will not hit that three-figure total this time around, but they are already enjoying the longest unbeaten run La Liga has ever seen, navigating each of their last 31 games without defeat since September's 3-1 reverse to Atletico Madrid.

Diego Simeone's men were coincidentally the most recent side to get the better of the La Liga champions in any competition, but four months on from January's Copa del Rey heartache, Los Blancos' streak without losing stands at 24 matches in all competitions, making them firm favourites to crush Borussia Dortmund's Champions League fantasy at Wembley on June 1.

Betis will have more modest European aspirations in mind for the 2024-25 campaign, having failed in their quest to rejoin the Europa League table for the fourth season running, and a first foray into the Europa Conference League league stage awaits Los Verdiblancos next term.

Pellegrini's troops exhibited their powers of recovery last month following a miserable March - where they took zero points from 12 on offer - but their six-match unbeaten run was quickly brought to a halt at home to Real Sociedad on May 19.

Brais Mendez and Mikel Merino sent Imanol Alguacil's men into the half-time break two goals to the good, and even though Abde Ezzalzouli had the chance to cut the arrears in half from the spot, Alex Remiro was equal to the task, thereby ensuring that Betis would emerge on the losing side for just the third time at home in the 2023-24 La Liga.

Los Verdiblancos' reverse to Sociedad eliminated their chances of a top-six placement - they are now four points behind Alguacil's troops while possessing an identical lead over Villarreal in eighth - so the overriding goal at the Bernabeu will be keeping their dignity intact.

Pellegrini's men certainly did that in a 1-1 stalemate with Real Madrid in their opening battle of the campaign - the third draw from the last four meetings between the two Real outfits - but that low-key scrap marked a seventh game without a win for Los Verdiblancos against the champions since a 2-1 success in March 2020, where Cristian Tello was the hero.

It is as you were on the injury front for Real Madrid ahead of their last domestic engagement, as David Alaba is still on the long road to recovery from his ACL injury, while Aurelien Tchouameni (foot) is fighting tooth and nail to be fit for the Champions League final.

As has been customary for Los Blancos at this stage of the season, Ancelotti significantly rotated his resources for the Villarreal fixture and should revert to a full-strength setup on Saturday, where Thibaut Courtois will get the nod in goal over Andriy Lunin.

The unquenchable attacking trio of Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo should also return to their rightful places in Ancelotti's 4-3-1-2 shape, spelling bad news for talented Turk Guler, Brahim Diaz and Joselu, who is still being left in limbo over his Blancos future.

However, one man whose future is more clearly defined is Toni Kroos, who will play his final La Liga match for Real Madrid on Saturday before walking away from the game later this year.

As for Saturday's visitors, Pellegrini will have Aitor Ruibal back at his disposal following a yellow card-induced suspension, but the rejuvenated Isco will miss out on a reunion with his old employers, having fractured his fibula in the recent draw with Las Palmas on May 16.

Marc Bartra (Achilles) and Cedric Bakambu (tendon) are in the same boat, while all of Guido Rodriguez (hamstring), German Pezzella (toe), Chimy Avila (hamstring), Abner Vinicius (unspecified), Pablo Fornals (unspecified) and William Carvalho (discomfort) are on the touch-and-go list.

Both Fornals and Carvalho only lasted until half time in the loss to Sociedad, and the former's problem could open the door for Ezzalzouli to start in the final third, in spite of his penalty failure last Sunday.
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Rudiger, Nacho, Mendy; Valverde, Camavinga, Kroos; Bellingham; Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior

Real Betis possible starting lineup:
Bravo; Ruibal, Sokratis, Riad, Miranda; Roca, Cardoso; Ezzalzouli, Fekir, Perez; Jose

Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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