Two mid-table sides clash at the Estadio Benito Villamarin as Real Betis host Malaga. Today’s hosts currently sit in eleventh and are two points back of Malaga who occupy the ninth position. If Betis get all three points in this match, they can leapfrog their match day rivals.
Malaga recorded their first win in five matches when they downed Sporting Gijon last weekend. They dominated throughout the encounter and deserved all three points. The lone goal came off of 22-year-old Juan Añor in the 25th minute.
Betis had shown signs of improvement in the last few weeks, winning twice in a row without conceding a goal. But against Athletic Club, they fell out of form. At the San Mamés, Betis gave up three goals within the space of 16 minutes to seal their fate. Ruben Castro scored with five minutes remaining, at that point though, it was a mere consolation.
When you talk about Real Betis, you need to go no further than Ruben Castro. At 34 years of age, Castro is still banging in goals and leads the team this season. While he will not reach his tally of 32 goals from last year, the Canaria born striker is in double –digits yet again. He has scored 15 goals in 29 league matches, playing 90 minutes in all but four. If Betis are to steal three points, Castro will have to be at the top of his game.
Brazilian forward Charles is set to lead the line again for Malaga against Betis on Saturday. In his first season with The Anchovies, the new boy is already showing his worth. Charles has found the back of the net 10 times already and is on pace to beat the 12 he scored with Celta de Vigo a couple of seasons ago.
For Juan Merino, all but one footballer will be missing as Piccini is dealing with a knock to his knee. This is good news for Merino as he needs everyone in order to keep afloat in the first division.
Malaga, on the other hand, are missing two key figures in their starting eleven. Their biggest loss is their starting goalkeeper, Chris Kameni, who is suffering from a knee problem. The other blow to the roster is Roque Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is a hugely important figure as he always has a knack of scoring goals. However, the veteran forward has not played much because of a hamstring issue.
This will be a hard fought battle throughout. The key will not be who can be the most effective in the final third of the pitch. It will come down to which will make the first mistake. Malaga will have the home advantage and are carrying momentum off of their last victory which should be enough to beat Betis.