15th May, 2023 @ 10:26 am
Because of their recent results, Manuel Pellegrini has publicly stated that he is "not confident" that Real Betis will qualify for European football next season. The Green and Whites, who appeared to be on track to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2005/06, have already lost four of their previous seven La Liga (LL) games (W2, D1).
The Betis manager could be playing mind games with his players, as they concluded gameweek 33 five points ahead of Athletic Bilbao, whom they defeated 1-0 in the previous round. But, with only three wins in their last 11 home league games (D4, L4), it's easy to see why he'd want to motivate his current sixth-placed club.
The hosts should have no issue overcoming Rayo Vallecano, who have only won one of the last ten meetings (D4, L5), and that was a penalty shoot-out in the Copa del Rey. The Red Sashes are also on a worryingly bad road streak, having lost four of their last six away games (D2) despite scoring first on three occasions.
Such a run jeopardizes their chances of qualifying for European football for the first time in the club's history. Manager Andoni Iraola, on the other hand, thinks his team will "fight for it in every game" after a 2-1 victory over Real Valladolid last time out bolstered their hopes and put them just one point behind seventh-placed Girona heading into the round.
Claudio Bravo, who was reinstated to Real Betis' starting lineup last time out, has kept clean sheets in four of his 10 LL matches with Vallecano (W8, L2). He'll be looking to stop Isi Palazon, who has 10 goals in the top level for Vallecano, eight of which have come as the first or last goal of the game.
Real Betis have lost 11 of the 13 league games (W2) in which they have allowed the first goal.