• This is how we live it

The Benito Villamarín is one of those places marked in red on Real Madrid's calendar, one of those stadiums where survival is key to fighting for the championship. And the Whites, in a game from more to less, dropped two points on the way to the league title. Bellingham, yes, again Bellingham, scored the 0-1 but Ruibal, with a great goal from outside the area, put the final draw.

Carlo Ancelotti started with his starting eleven, aware of the importance of the penultimate away visit of this tough start to the season. The Whites have already travelled to San Mamés, the Metropolitano, Montilivi, the Sánchez Pizjuán, Montjuic and Villamarín, and 2023 is not over yet. Six of the most difficult outings in La Liga that Madrid have solved with 3 wins, 2 draws and one defeat.

In Seville, the madridistas started with Lucas Vázquez on the right replacing the injured Carvajal and with a somewhat different attacking approach to those we have seen in recent weeks. The pattern before kick-off suggested a 4-4-2 diamond formation with Rodrygo and Brahim up front, but as soon as the ball started rolling Ancelotti placed the Brazilian close to the left wing line and the Malaga player stuck to the right, with Bellingham and Modric arriving from the second line. The Italian wanted to open up the field, avoid the funnel through the middle and take advantage of the spaces behind the Betis defence. And he succeeded at times.

The first half hour was a continuation of the Whites' good play over the last few weeks, flowing in choral sensations and individual actions against a Betis side that did not know how to sink their teeth into Madrid's dominance. Modric, with a header, came close to making it 0-1 after five minutes, and Ruibal, right-back for the suspended Bellerín, suffered in his flesh the ideal moment that Rodrygo is experiencing. The Brazilian was Madrid's best player at the Villamarín, moving away from the centre and sticking to the wing, in true Vinicius style.

In the 9th minute, he faced and dribbled past Ruibal inside the area and was brought down, but Soto Grado did not consider it a penalty despite the player's protests. Five minutes later, the Brazilian appeared again on the edge of the area, drew a wall with Bellingham, the Englishman gave him a backheel and got inside the area, with no luck to finish because a defender got ahead of him to take off. The rebound of the clearance bounced off the striker himself and reached Brahim, who pushed the ball into goal to make it 0-1. But the VAR warned Soto Grado and disallowed the goal for offside at the start of the action.

All of Madrid's danger came from the left flank, in those triangles that they always build between Bellingham, Modric and Rodrygo and in the balls behind the defense that both the Brazilian and Brahim punished. On the other hand, a Betis side that only found inspiration in the boots of Isco. The former Whites man had his team's best chance in the first half, but his shot was bitten off after an assist from Ayoze.

From the 30th minute, the home side began to wake up and Madrid began to be much more imprecise. Lunin made it 1-0 from a shot by Ayoze, who had planted himself in the area despite having fouled Mendy, and Willian José tried after a turnover by Kroos on the way out. Madrid were grateful for the break.

After the intermission, Bellingham reappeared. When the Whites' attack was at its densest, having 'forgotten' Rodrygo who had done a lot of damage at the start of the match, the Englishman made it 0-1. He picked up a ball on the left flank, advanced diagonally and passed to Brahim, continuing his run into the box. The Spaniard chipped the ball first time over the rival defence and the Briton, after an extraordinary control with his chest, calmly finished against Rui Silva. His 16th goal for Madrid this season, his 12th in La Liga, where Pichichi is still with three more than Griezmann.

The goal hurt Betis and established Madrid's dominant position, who felt comfortable in those long possessions in the opponent's half. But on the Sevillian afternoon, the Whites made unexpected mistakes. Not only in the outlet, but also in construction, which is strange. On one of those possessions, Bellingham missed a game-changer and Ruibal snatched off a counterattack. He passed to Willian José, who found him again two metres from the edge of the area, and the full-back, without pressure from the Madrid defence, did not think twice about it. He unleashed a cross-field missile that snuck into the top right corner of Lunin's goal. A gentleman goal.

The draw boosted Betis' morale and physical effort and left Madrid in shock, who did not find it easy again to find Rui Silva's net. Rodrygo, the best player of the afternoon, tried non-stop, but he lacked the right pass or the last action to decide the match. Of course, the Brazilian once again left a recital in that left-footed position that Vinicius usually occupies. Lucky choice for Ancelotti. In one of those slaloms, the Brazilian ended up being brought down but Soto Grado let it continue when he saw the ball fall to Joselu, who shot across the face of Rui Silva.

Earlier, Isco, the home beacon, came close to making it 2-1 with a great header, but the ball hit the post. A draw in an intense Villamarín for a Madrid that could lose the lead if Girona is able to win at Montjuic against Barcelona.

  • Real Madrid
  • Real Betis Balompié