Just 26 per cent of the ball. That’s not the Real Madrid way, is it? Men behind the ball, Isco still on the bench and a late, dramatic winner that keeps Los Blancos in with a shout of the league title race – just about.
Despite the joyous scenes following Dani Ceballos’ brilliant free-kick at the Benito Villamarín, fans and press alike were still far from happy at Santiago Solari and his Real Madrid men. The three points were in the bag but the manner of the victory did not appease those unhappy madridistas.
Let’s have a bit of perspective.
Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Thibaut Courtois, Marcos Llorente, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vázquez, Mariano. All out through injury or suspension. Whether or not they should have been involved in Seville is for another debate but the quality in the list of absentees is undoubtable.
Marcelo and Isco on the bench with Vinicius Jr. handed a starting role despite not training due to flu the day before.
A 3-5-2 formation with wing-backs, including young players Segio Reguilón, Fede Valverde, Cristo and new singing Brahim. Bold decisions by a coach who is already feeling some pressure from the press and fans.
A Real Betis side who have impressed under coach Quique Setién and who see Madrid, alongside neighbours Sevilla and Barcelona, as their biggest match of the season.
Before kick-off, this had all the hallmarks of a home win and another Madrid crisis. The opposition, the injuries, the decisions to drop key men.
But, despite the statistics being thrown about after the match, this was one of Madrid’s better performances of the campaign given a little bit of perspective. The visitors were up against it and they left with what they came for – three points – and the only statistic that really matters.
The criticism came in for the manner of the win but Madrid will not line-up like that against Leganés in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night, nor in Saturday’s tough home match against Seville. Solari simply did what he had to do against Betis in the given conditions.