Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game quotes, post-game podcast, and plenty more analysis.
Games against Real Betis have been far from routine in the past few years, and tonight was no different — a laborious, trud-through-the-mud 90 minutes where the team struggled with their defensive shape, and lacked clear paths to goal.
It’s now 325 minutes and counting since Real Madrid last scored a goal at home against Betis. Pretty mad record.
— The Spanish Football Podcast (@tsf_podcast) April 24, 2021
There was something off about Real Madrid’s performance today, and maybe that’s excusable. It was raining heavily (again), Chelsea looms on Tuesday, and the team is flat out tired. Karim Benzema received service on three ocassions, but couldn’t finish. Luka Modric looked like he was on his last legs (although the effort, as always, was there with him). The passing from several Real Madrid players playing it out of the back was lax, and the press was loose. Midfielders jogged back in transition, and in the second half, they didn’t jog back at all on certain sequences.
Modric can be on his last legs, and there still won’t be anyone better than him at reading passing lanes. Has disrupted a bunch of Real Betis’s build-up.
Collectively the shape is wonky though, not much synergy in the team’s press.
I will join the ‘this team looks tired’ train
— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) April 24, 2021
Real Betis looked just as dazed. They couldn’t punish Real Madrid, not could they raise their game above Real’s low energy.
One thing Zinedine Zidane’s men clearly lacked: line-breaking. That’s natural when missing two of your best line-breakers in Vinicius Jr and Fede Valverde. Rodrygo and Marco Asensio weren’t able to dribble through Betis much, and in the case of Rodrygo, he was denied pretty well every time by Emerson or Guido Rodriguez. Asensio did have a couple nice crosses from both sides, but they didn’t connect.
Need some line-breaking in the 2nd half. Miss that without Fede / Vinny.
— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) April 24, 2021
In the second half, Zidane opted for a formation change, shifting to three at the back. Nacho, Militao, and Varane commanded the back-line, while Alvaro Odriozla and Marcelo played higher up the pitch on the wings. Vinicius, and eventually Hazard, entered the field. Those changes didn’t necessarily improve the team’s build-up (Casemiro became more aggressive with his runs into the final third), but there was a bit more danger — particularly with the infused dribbling of Hazard and Vinicius. Vinny got into good positions with his dribbling, but, didn’t have the end product. Hazard looked comfortable in tight spaces stringing the ball along in transition.
Alas, nothing came out of it apart from a draw — two points dropped, and two dents etched into Real Madrid’s title hopes.