Real Madrid vs Real Betis: Three things that will shape the outcome

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Real Madrid play host to promoted Real Betis just a week after being unable to break down a gritty Sporting Gijon side at El Molinon.

Manager Rafa Benitez will be hoping that the Andalusians put up less of a fight than their fellow newcomers and that three points are comfortably in the bank by the end of week two.

Out of all La Liga's managers, Benitez is probably under the most pressure. He simply has to break the Barcelona stranglehold on La Liga in particular, whilst helping Los Blancos claw themselves back to the summit in Europe.


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Given that his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti was statistically the best Real Madrid manager in history, the ex-Liverpool and Napoli man has a lot to live up to.

Let's take a look at three things that might shape his first league game at the Santiago Bernabeu:

Piccini the danger

A new signing from Italy, right-back Cristiano Piccini announced himself in style against Betis' first week opponents Villarreal.

Constantly on the move in the attacking third, the defender was a thorn in the side for the Yello Submarine throughout.

Given that one of Real Madrid's most highlighted weaknesses comes from Marcelo's wanderlust in the left-back berth, expect Pepe Mel to target the Brazilian from first until last.

If Piccini can make use of the space in behind and deliver as accurately as his season opener, then the hosts could be in trouble.

Bale as a no. 10?

It might've been a shock to many to see Gareth Bale playing behind striker Jese at Sporting Gijon, with Isco stationed out on the right and Cristiano Ronaldo left.

But utilising Bale as a number 10 playmaker isn't as daft as it sounds. 

His passing is consistent and per WhoScored is now at the most accurate level of Bale's career. The ability to spray balls left, right and over the top for a nine to run onto is well within his skill set.

By placing him centrally it also affords the Welshman the opportunity for some direct running which is always unsettling for defenders and goalkeeper alike.

Playing in the channel between Alfred N'Diaye and Xavi Torres, Bale can profit from a fairly static 4-4-2 set up from Betis' Pepe Mel.

Misfiring Betis

Even if Piccini and others can supply the bullets for Real Betis, they need some mobile front men to fire them.

Jorge Molina and Ruben Castro have a 191-goal partnership between them so they know where the goal is, but at 33 and 34 years of age respectively, the movement between the pair isn't what it once was.

You'd be hard pressed to see either get any change from Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, but it won't be for the want of trying.

If there is one thing that authors every Pepe Mel side, it is a strong work ethic. Castro's 87th minute equaliser against Villarreal was borne out of that never-say-die attitude.

That's all well and good but goals are a strikers currency. A combined 77 years between them, neither Molina or Castro will cash in at the Bernabeu.

Do you think Real Madrid can get their first three points of the season? Who will be the key men? Give us YOUR opinion in the comment box below! 

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Cristiano Ronaldo
La Liga
James Rodriguez
Karim Benzema
Real Madrid
Toni Kroos
Gareth Bale

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