Welcome to live online commentary of the LaLiga Santander match between Real Betis and Real Madrid, with kick-off at 20:45 CEST at the Estadio Benito Villamarín.
Real Madrid swept Real Betis aside in a whirlwind display of aggressive attacking precision in the Benito Villamarín to bring an end to a run of four consecutive draws in all competitions that was starting to chip away at the golden aura of coach Zinedine Zidane created last season when the Frenchman adopted the middle name of Midas.
Raphael Varane, Karim Benzema, Marcelo, Isco (2) and Cristiano Ronaldo provided the goals for the visitors with Álvaro Cejudo bagging Betis’ consolation strike. However, the score line was slightly flattering for Zidane’s side, not because Betis did not deserve to concede six but because Real deserved to conceded more than one.
The home side’s build-up play was good, with the evergreen Joaquín finding plenty of spaces to exploit and Gus Poyet’s second half substitutes, Cejudo and Roman Zozulya, creating havoc among a back line that in the first 45 had looked so comfortable they might have been shopping for chaise longue. By that stage the result was beyond doubt, only the final score remained to be decided, but Zidane will not have enjoyed his side’s early second half switch off to allow Betis a whiff of hope, any more than he will look passively on another missed opportunity to add just a second Liga clean sheet of the season to Real’s stats.
However, the first 45 minutes will dominate the headlines on Sunday, and rightly so. Real were irresistible going forward and threw together one of the most attractive breaks in their recent history from a Betis corner, half the team involved in a sweeping move from one end of the pitch to the other that Isco tapped with the nonchalance of a golfer popping a one-hander into the hole on the 18th. It was a stunning show of force, movement and understanding between Zidane’s players. The recovery may not be fully confirmed – Betis were more than accommodating at the back – but the vital sings in Seville were stronger than they have been so far this season.
Full time: Real Betis 1 - 6 Real Madrid
Min 48 | Pezzella goes in the book for flooring Isco.
Half time: Real Betis 0 - 4 Real Madrid LIVE
30 mins to kick-off | The Madrid players are out on the pitch, being put through their paces by RSM Antonio Pintus. On the other side of the halfway line Betis are doing some ball drills.
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has opted for a touch of midfield steel in Mateo Kovacic, preferring to leave the in-form Marco Asensio on the bench, presumably to test some knackered Betis legs in the last 20 minutes or so. There are few surprises elsewhere, Isco getting another chance to prove his worth to the side and Raphael Varane deputising for the injured Sergio Ramos in defence alongside Pepe.
Gus Poyet meanwhile has decided to play both Rubén Castro and Álex Alegría from the outset with Paraguay international Tony Sanabria on the bench. Castro and Alegría have forged a promising partnership since the latter's return from a successful loan spell at Numancia.
Real Betis - Real Madrid: Latest news
19:40 | The Real Madrid starting 11 has been confirmed for tonight's game: Keylor Navas, Carvajal, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo; Kovacic, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema
18:45 | Just two hours to go until kick-off in the Benito Villamarín, where Zinedine Zidane desperately needs to steer his side to victory. The Real coach pointed out that he is "not a magician" in his pre-match press conference and he will have to pull a workable formation out of his hat in the absence of captain Sergio Ramos and key midfielders Luka Modric and Casemiro.
18:05 | Pepe is also likely to have a fresh spring in his step after reports of a contract extension taking him up to 2018.
15:37 | 'Zizou' looked ahead to Real's clash with Betis - and their bid to end their run of draws - in his pre-match press conference, discussing Cristiano Ronaldo's fit of pique in training on Friday. The full story is here.
14:05 | Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kanté also apparently has plans to join a 'very, very big club' one day, obviously to fill a Casemiro-sized hole.
13:18 | Zinedine Zidane may have had to settle for a point in his early days as Real Madrid coach last term, but he certainly has good memories of the Villamarín as a player: just look at this goal from 21 years back (captions in Spanish).
12:55 | The AS English oracle has spoken: find out what our resident clairvoyant says (with a surprising amount of confidence, if you ask me) is going to happen at the Benito Villamarín this evening here.
12:17 | In need of all the info on when and where to watch this evening's match? Why, look no further...
10:15 | Why not get yourself started with a shufties at our match preview below?
10:10 | Buenos días! We're already building up to Real Betis against Real Madrid tonight, with Los Blancos out to return to winning ways after four straight draws in all competitions. We'll be bringing you news and updates throughout the day before taking you through the game!
Real Betis vs Real Madrid: Preview
Real Madrid arrive in Seville in the middle of an injury crisis and a run of four consecutive stalemates in all competitions to take on a Betis side that managed a draw in the same fixture last season, handing Zinedine Zidane his first setback after taking over the reins at the Bernabéu.
Betis welcome Real to the Benito Villamarín sitting in seventh place in LaLiga and with the forward line recently signed up to new contracts, both Rubén Castro and Álex Alegría having penned extended deals. Gus Poyet’s side go into Saturday’s match after an up-and-down start to the season with two victories, two defeats and three draws. The home side will be well aware that a victory against Madrid in front of their fans will provide a welcome shot in the arm morale-wise and the team can expect vociferous support from the stands.
In good news for Poyet the Betis treatement room has been empty this week, with all internationals - Dani Ceballos, Charly Musonda, Riza Durmisi and Felipe Gutiérrez - returning in one piece. The Uruguayan will therefore be able to choose from his full available squad for the visit of Madrid. The return of Tony Sanabria, Betis’ star signing, after a hip problem is a welcome event and Mandi, Jonas Martín and Rafa Navarro are all also available after recovering from their various knocks.
Even so, Poyet faces a dilemma up front, where Castro is an undisputed starter but Alegría has been playing his way into the position of strike partner to his compatriot. The Betis boss will have to decide whether to stick with the Spanish pair or hand an immediate recall to Paraguay striker Sanabria.
Zidane’s side arrive in Seville under huge pressure to carve out a victory after picking up three points from their last three Liga fixtures against Eibar (1-1), Las Palmas (2-2) and Villarreal (1-1). Zidane did not enjoy his first away trip as coach of Madrid last season after two comfortable victories in the Bernabéu - 5-0 against Depor and 5-1 over Sporting - had the press purring appreciatively. Against a spirited and organized Betis side, the Real boss tasted his first dropped points in a 1-1 draw.
Zidane also has to contend with some important absences from his squad over the next few weeks. Sergio Ramos is out until mid-November with a knee problem, joining midfielders Casemiro and Luka Modric on the sidelines, with both expected to return at the beginning of next month. Although James Rodríguez will play no part in Seville as he continues his recovery, Marcelo is in the squad and Zidane has intimated the all-action Brazilian will start: “We’ll be making the most of Marcelo tomorrow,” the Frenchman said in his pre-match press conference.
Real Betis - Real Madrid: Possible teams
Real Betis XI:
Adán, Piccini, Durmisi, Mandi, Pezzella, Petros, Felipe Gutiérrez, Brasanac, Joaquín, Rubén Castro and Álex Alegría.