Betis can count on a solid defence and have yet to concede at home, whilst the pragmatic approach of Real Madrid that includes Diarra and Emerson in midfield should ensure a low scoring game. Neither side, however, can afford to settle for a draw.
Fabio Capello takes his Real Madrid side to Sevilla to face Real Betis, knowing that anything other than a win will ensure his fledgling tenure at the club continues to be the focus of intense negative media coverage. Betis will be looking to restore some pride following last weeks defeat to fierce rivals Sevilla and will provide a stern test for Capello and Real Madrid this evening.
Ahead of the game, Real Madrid will be buoyed by the news that Brazil striker Ronaldo is close to a return to fitness following surgery and, although unlikely, may even be involved in the game against Betis. There remain injury doubts, however, over Michel Salgado, Raul and Roberto Carlos and even if it fit, Capello is likely to keep them on the bench as he enforces a rotation system ahead of the midweek Champions League tie against Dynamo Kiev. David Beckham is also likely to lose his place to Jose Antonio Reyes whilst Cassano and Raul Bravo are both likely to start.
A trip to Seville holds a special significance for winger Jose Antonio Reyes and defender Sergio Ramos who are both products of the youth system at Betis' bitter rivals Sevilla, and the pair admit they are looking forward to facing the old enemy again.
Ramos left Sevilla to join Real in an 18million pounds (27million euros) deal in 2005, said: "It is clearly different for me because I have faced them many times.
"They were my main rival when I played for Sevilla. Nevertheless, the most important thing is to earn the three points. We have to win.
Reyes heaps more misery on David Beckham, taking up his position on the right of the Madrid midfield, following a match winning performance in his first home game for Real last weekend. Reyes scored the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad with ‘Beckhamesque’ free-kick and now, ironically, keeps the former England captain out of the side.
Tonight’s match is particularly special for Reyes, who joined Arsenal from Sevilla in 2003,and the midfielder says "The game against Betis is so important to me. I'm returning to Seville, my home, to play against Betis. Everyone knows it's a very special game for me,"
Betis will be eager to restore confidence in front of their fans at the Manuel Ruiz de Lopera following last weeks 3-2 defeat to their rivals. Betis have had a mixed start to the season after losing their opening game (2-1) at Valencia but have one their only home fixture, beating Athletic Bilbao 3-0.
Real Madrid should provide stronger opposition than struggling Athletic, but Betis defender Juanito believes that his team can take advantage of a Real Madrid team that is undergoing transition.
"Madrid are not a new team, but they have players who are needing to adapt," claims Juanito.
Defender David Rivas is unavailable as he continues his recovery from a knee injury and although they have been making progress in training ,Dani and Marcos Assuncao, will also miss out, along with midfielder Arzu and defender Damia.
On the positive side, midfielder Alberto Rivera returns from his knee injury and is in the squad , as is Johann Vogel who returned to full training this week
Historically, the Manuel Ruiz de Lopera represents a happy hunting ground for Real Madrid where they have one exactly half of all the matches they have ever played there. In fact they haven‘t lost there in over four years and Capello will be hoping to add to his record of never having been beaten by his opposite number, Javier Irureta.