24 November 2012
Real Madrid were unable to record their sixth consecutive victory after falling to defeat in Seville against Betis (1-0). Mourinho’s team clearly dominated the game and had several chances to score. This time the attack, one of the strengths of Mourinho’s team, did not translate into points, mainly because the home side’s goalkeeper, Adrián, played exceptionally well, clearing all the Whites’ chances. Betis defended, basing their game plan on counter-attacks and it paid off. Beñat scored the game’s goal in an isolated moved, after gathering the ball in the penalty arc and beating Casillas with a tight shot in the seventeenth minute. The referee failed to give a penalty for handball during the game’s closing minutes. Real Madrid, who had had three days’ rest after an important clash in the Champions League, sought the equaliser until the end of the clash.
After securing a position in the second round of the Champions League, Real Madrid travelled to the Benito Villamarín stadium with just one change from the clash on Wednesday; Özil for Modric. From the beginning of the match the Whites sought a goal and played a quick game, with a high tempo and direct play. A cross-shot from the right by Özil and a long shot by Cristiano Ronaldo that went over the goal of Adrián in the first five minutes of the match warned of the Whites’ intentions.
The Portuguese was particularly active on the left wing, and had two clear chances in the first fifteen minutes. The first, a fierce strike cleared by the Betis goalkeeper for a corner and the second, following up after Khedira’s shot. Mourinho’s players were clearly on top, while Betis sat deep and waited for the counter-attack.
An isolated move from the home side, who up until then had not shown up in attack, provided the clash’s only goal in the seventeenth minute. Beñat gathered a clearance by Di María in the penalty arc, went past Khedira and beat Casillas with a tight shot at the post. The Whites’ captain was unable to keep it out. Betis were sure of their plan: prevent Mourinho’s players from playing in the midfield and look for speedy counter-attacks. In the twenty-second minute Rubén Castro entered the area and struck the ball fiercely, but Casillas cleared the danger confidently.
With the scoreboard against them, Real Madrid continued to seek the home side’s goal with intent. Faced by a congested midfield, they sought to create danger down the wings, and the left wing in particular with Cristiano Ronaldo. The thirty-first minute saw one of the first half’s most clear chances. Di María was the protagonist after a one-two with Özil, but his shot deflected off the Betis defence and went over. The Whites dominated and sought the goal through all possible means, including free kicks. In the thirty-seventh minute Alonso took a free kick from the wing and Benzema’s finish ended up in the back of the net, but the goal was ruled out due to being offside.
Real Madrid still had 45 minutes to stage a fight back. Mourinho therefore made substitutions and brought on Modric and Kaká in place of Khedira and Özil. Both attempted to lend a spark to the Whites’ attack, and to a certain extent succeeded in doing so in the first moments of the second half. The Whites were on top and even Coentrão was a danger on the left-hand side. The only thing that was missing was the goal. One of the many moves by the Whites’ attack ended in a goal by Benzema, who collected an assist from Modric from a legal position, although the referee had blown for offside.
The attacks took place increasingly often and were becoming more and more dangerous for Adrián. The Betis goalkeeper became the home side’s hero by preventing two clear Madrid opportunities. First, he cleared a shot from the right by Cristiano, who made the most of a great pass behind the Andalusian defence in the sixtieth minute. Two minutes later, Kaká did not hesitate and shot for goal, but Adrián cleared. Real Madrid looked for the equaliser and Callejón joined the cause, replacing Di María with 27 minutes of the match remaining.
The pace of the clash slowed as the minutes ticked by. The reason; the excessive interruptions in the match due to fouls and the increasing fatigue of both teams. Despite Real Madrid being in control, Betis created chances on the counter-attack. Salva Sevilla cut in inside the area and was close to scoring the team’s second in the seventieth minute and two minutes later Rubén Castro shot wide after quick play by Jorge Molina. Meanwhile, the Whites attempted to score from free kicks. Ramos and Pepe came close to equalising from crosses by Xabi Alonso. In the eighty-second minute, Adrián cleared a fierce strike by Cristiano Ronaldo from a direct free kick.
The chances were becoming increasingly clear and Benzema had the opportunity to score the equaliser five minutes from the end. The French forward shot in the goalmouth after a header by Pepe, but once again Adrián prevented the goal. The Whites finished the match with long balls in search of a goal but this time around it was not to be. In the last move of the clash, the referee failed to award a penalty for a handball by Nosa after a cross by Kaká. Real Madrid now move on to thinking about the second leg of the last-sixteen clash in the Spanish Cup against Alcoyano, which will be their third match in as many competitions in less than a week.