Carlo Ancelotti is relishing the chance to lead out Real Madrid for the first time in a competitive match at the Bernabeu when Real Betis visit on the opening weekend of the Primera Division season. After a protracted arrival from Paris Saint-Germain, Ancelotti will be keen to hit the ground running and try and reclaim the Spanish title. But the former Chelsea and Milan coach is also aware of the responsibility to succeed with style.
“In Real Madrid, it is not enough to win; you have to play well and in an offensive way,” he said, according to Real Madrid’s website. “The team have performed well, showing quality in pre-season and I am hopeful that we will see the same against Betis: playing well and winning.
“I am looking forward to making my home debut on the bench at the Santiago Bernabeu,” he added. “It will be a special moment in my career. This stadium has always got behind the team and all the players. If the team play well, the Bernabeu will always get behind them. The atmosphere inside the ground is always very good and if the team play well, there won't be a problem,”
Madrid enter the new season without Gareth Bale, despite a long and much-publicized pursuit. There have been new arrivals, though, with around €60 million spent to secure talented young Spanish duo Isco and Asier Illarramendi.
The signing of those two players symbolizes the challenge faced by many of La Liga’s other clubs to hold onto their best players. Betis know that problem all too well, having lost important midfielders Jose Canas to Swansea City and Benat to Athletic Bilbao. In an effort to compensate for those losses, several signings have been made, albeit at little expense. The biggest outlay was on midfielder Xavi Torres from Getafe.
Pepe Mel’s side will be without last season’s top scorer Ruben Castro for the opening match of the season as he battles a knee injury. Madrid, meanwhile, will be missing Xabi Alonso and Raphael Varane, but Ancelotti has confirmed that Pepe is fit.
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo
M: Khedira, Modric
Isco, Ozil, Ronaldo
Real Betis (probable)
D: Nacho, Perquis, Paulao, Chica
M: Nosa, Matilla
Verdu, Juanfran, Cedric
Prediction: Madrid will be aware of the threat Betis can pose with Mel’s side having beaten Los Merengues at home last season. But without the attacking threat of Ruben Castro, it is difficult to envisage Betis repeating the trick at the Bernabeu on Sunday. Even without Bale, Madrid have an envious array of attacking options and that should prove too much for the visitors.
Real Madrid 3-0 Real Betis
Where to watch: The Spanish Liga clash will kick-off at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport, with a live stream available on beIN Sport Play.