Evening all! Our final La Liga commentary of the weekend comes from the Spanish capital as Atletico welcome Real Betis
to Madrid. The two sides met in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey this season, with Atletico winning the home leg 2-1 before drawing 1-1 away from home. Both sides are also going well in the league this season, sitting second and fifth respectively.
Let’s focus on league form for a moment. Atletico currently sit second in the table, four points ahead of third-placed Real Madrid, but 11 points behind Barcelona. They have wobbled in recent weeks, however, with 10 points from their last six games in the league. Last time out they suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao.
Betis, meanwhile, have taken 35 points from their 21 matches to sit in fifth position in the table. They have impressed on the road this season with six wins from their 10 matches, but they have wobbled in recent weeks, failing to win any of their last four matches. They will also have to overcome the best home record in La Liga if they are to take something from the game this evening.
ATLETICO: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Cisma; Gabi, Suarez, Koke, Turan; Adrian, Falcao
BETIS: Adrian; Perquis, Nacho, Chica, Amaya; Benat, Canas, Perez, Castro; Pabon, Campbell
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of kickoff. Just a quick note on the team news. Radamel Falcao returns for Atletico this evening, but Diego Costa
drops to the bench. Betis, meanwhile, hand a start to Pabon alongside Joel Campbell, with Jorge Molina dropping to the bench. The away side get the action underway.
Strong start from the away side as Benat picks up possession before attempting to find the run of Campbell, but Miranda is across to make a fine challenge. Just a reminder that there is another La Liga match taking place alongside this one with Real Sociedad welcoming Real Mallorca. I will keep you up-to-date with that one as the evening unfolds.
CHANCE! Brilliant chance for the home side inside the opening stages of this match as Falcao finds Turan in the box, but the Turkish international can only clip wide of the post. What an opening that would have been. High-tempo start to this match with both sides attacking with pace and numbers.
Neither side has really taken control of the possession in the early stages of this match with both teams creating decent space in the final third. Again Campbell is involved for Betis as the on-loan Arsenal striker collects a pass from Benat, but the forward is just pushed too wide and cannot find the target.
It's good work from Falcao as the Colombian turns Nacho on the edge of the area, but he is pulled down by the Spanish defender. The resulting free kick is taken by Koke, but he can only curl his effort over the crossbar. Should Atletico win this evening, they would be the only side in the top eight to pick up all three points this weekend.
Another half-chance comes to the home side as Turan collects possession outside the box before thumping an effort towards the bottom corner, but Adrian is on hand to make the save. The resulting corner is taken by Gabi, but once more Adrian is on hand to deny Adrian. Wonderful goalkeeping.
The home supporters continue to drive their team forward in the early stages of this match, but the away fans are also full of noise and it is contributing to a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium. No chances to report in the last couple of moments, however, with both sides still feeling their way into the match.
Decent spell of possession for the away side in the last few minutes with Benat and Ruben Perez enjoying more of the ball. The latter attempts to find Campbell with a low pass, but Gabi comes across to clear the danger before looking for Falcao, who is well-marshalled by Nacho.
Still Betis continue to enjoy possession of the ball, but they have not really threatened to open the scoring thus far. However, Adrian and Falcao have struggled to get into the game down the other end. You just get the feeling that the first goal in this match - if there indeed is one - will have a huge say on the final result.
The Atletico supporters continue to sing their hearts out in the opening 18 minutes of this match. No real chances to report, however, with each attacking opportunity breaking down at the final moment. I do not think there will be too many goals in this match. Betis are very impressive on the road, while we all know about Atletico's home record.
Slightly untidy period of the match in the last few minutes with both sides guilty of giving away a host of free kicks in the opposing half. Meanwhile, neither side is taking too much care in possession. Turan is again involved for Atletico as he strikes an effort from inside the box, but it is wide of the target.
A reminder that three points for Betis this evening would move them into fourth position, while a win for Atletico would move them closer to Barcelona and further ahead of Real Madrid. They simply must capitalise on their rivals failing to win this weekend. Just about at the midpoint of the first period and the score remains 0-0.
Another Atletico attack threatens to cause concern as Turan combines with Falcao before driving into the box, but once more he fires wide of the target. That is three chances that the Turkish international has missed. Meanwhile, Betis continue to struggle to find that elusive final pass down the other end.
The home side continue to craft and probe outside the Betis box with Gabi and Mario Suarez joining Falcao and Adrian in attack, but it is a case of too many cooks as Benat closes the door. The Spanish midfielder finds Castro in the box, but the striker just could not sort out his feet and Courtois collects.
Another half-chance for the away side as Benat drifts a dangerous cross into the penalty area, but Miranda is on hand to head clear. The pressure continues as Canas fires a low cross towards Castro, but the striker just cannot find the target once more. Good spell for Betis.
Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining and we are still waiting for the first real chance of the match. Turan has looked the most likely for Atletico, with Falcao and Adrian just struggling to influence proceedings. It could be the type of match where one goal is enough.
End-to-end period of the match in the last few minutes with both sides attacking with pace and numbers, but as has been the case all evening, the final pass continues to miss the target. Nacho comes forward from defence for Betis, but his effort is straight at Courtois.
Half-chance for the home side as Adrian attempts to find Falcao with a header, but Nacho is on hand to make a fine clearance. The pressure continues with Gabi, but the referee decided to stop play with Nacho seemingly carrying a head injury. Little over 10 minutes of the half remaining.
Extended pressure from Atletico as we approach the interval with Turan and Koke seeing plenty of the ball, but they are missing the presence of Diego Costa in the penalty area. Two corners in quick succession also cause concern, but Perquis heads the first clear before Adrian claims the second.
Again it's good work from the home side as Juanfran darts down the left before firing a low cross into the box, but Javi Chica is across to clear. Once more, the resulting corner causes concern in the penalty area, but Perquis heads clear before Suarez fires wide of the target.
It's good work from Pabon as the forward picks up possession before darting into the Atletico penalty area, but Miranda is across to clear the danger. The pressure continues as Campbell searches out Castro in the box, but Cisma is on hand to clear. Little over five minutes of the half remaining.
Not too much to report in the latter stages of the half with Atletico dominating possession without really threatening to take the lead. It would not be a surprise to see Diego Costa introduced at the interval. Adrian has just not been in the match thus far. However, the home side are extremely comfortable in defence.
Slightly scrappy end to the half with both teams guilty of giving away a host of fouls in the opposing half. Meanwhile, neither side has taken too much care in possession for the last couple of minutes. The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional one minute at the end of the half.
HALF-TIME: Atletico Madrid 0-0 Real Betis
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with the two sides level at 1-1. Atletico enjoyed most of the early chances, but neither side has really threatened to open the scoring. Not too much to get excited about in the opening 45 minutes of football.
Let's take a look at some statistics from the first period. Betis just shaded the possession with 51%, but they managed just one attempt to Atletico's seven. Despite the early success for the home side, a 0-0 score at this stage is just about a fair result. It has the feel of a 1-0 kind of match.
Let's take a look at both benches for this evening. Atletico have a host of options in reserve with Diego Costa, Raul Garcia and Christian Rodriguez in their squad. Meanwhile, Betis also have attacking players in reserve with Jorge Molina and Alvaro Nadillo capable of influencing proceedings from the bench.
Just a reminder that three points for Betis would move them into fourth position in the table, while a win for Atletico would move them seven points ahead of third-placed Real Madrid. The other match currently taking place between Real Sociedad and Real Mallorca is also level at the interval.
Right, both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. No changes for either side at the interval which is not all that surprising at this stage of proceedings. With both Barcelona and Real Madrid dropping points this weekend, Atletico simply have to capitalise. The home side get the half underway.
Strong start to the second period from Betis with Canas and Ruben Perez enjoying early possession of the ball. The latter attempts to find the run of Campbell, but Cisma comes across to clear the danger. Pabon fires a low cross into the box moments later, but he fires wide of the target.
Again Turan threatens down the left as the Turkish international collects possession before driving into the box, but Amaya comes across to make a fine challenge. A free kick presents an opportunity to the home side moments later, but they work it short and Betis consequently get players behind the ball.
Atletico force another corner as Juanfran fires a low cross into the penalty area, with Chica on hand to make the clearance. However, the resulting delivery from Gabi is straight into the hands of Adrian. I suspect that we will see Diego Costa in the next 10 or 15 minutes if the score remains the same.
Betis are presented with the chance to launch a high ball into the penalty area as Gabi fells Perquis outside the box. Benat takes the free kick, but Courtois comes a long way to claim. That is poor from the Spaniard. Not too much to get excited about in the opening nine minutes of this half.
It's good work from Juanfran as the Spanish defender comes forward before whipping a dangerous cross into the Betis penalty area, but Chica stoops low to head clear. Once more, the resulting corner is poor, with Adrian on hand to collect. The pressure is just starting to rise, however, with Atletico looking the most likely.
Again the final pass is just too long for Turan as another Atletico attack breaks down. However, the change is indeed made as Costa replaces Adrian, who has been disappointing this evening. Costa and Falcao have been sensational in recent weeks. Can they inspire their team to victory in the final 30 minutes of this one? We cannot end the La Liga weekend with a 0-0 draw!
Half-chance for Castro down the other end as the striker meets a cross from Canas, but he just cannot make proper contact and Miranda is on hand to clear the danger. Costa has certainly made a difference to the home side's attack, meanwhile, with the Brazilian combining with Falcao to good effect.
Costa is again involved as the Brazilian finds Koke on the edge of the box, but the Spaniard can only fire his effort over the crossbar. This was the type of match that Betis were winning in the early stages of the season. Can they secure an unlikely result once more? At the moment, there is only one side interested in attacking.
GOAL! Atletico Madrid 1-0 Real Betis (Costa)
Costa has only been on the pitch for five minutes, but he latches onto a loose ball in the penalty area to head into the empty net. Not too sure what Adrian was doing coming for that cross, but the home supporters will not mind.
UPDATE: Real Sociedad have taken the lead against Real Mallorca with Gonzalo Castro on target. Meanwhile, back to this match, Betis make a double change as Molina and Pozuelo replace Pabon and Benat. The home side are also preparing Rodriguez to enter the frame.
CHANCE! Betis come close to levelling the score as Perez strikes a powerful effort from distance, but it just moves wide of the post. Meanwhile, the home change is indeed made as Rodriguez replaces Turan, who has struggled to get into this second period.
Again it's good work from Costa as the Brazilian drives past the challenge of three defenders, but he just loses control at the vital moment with Nacho across to clear the danger. Little over 20 minutes of football remaining and we still have all 22 players on the pitch. A rarity in Spain these days!
Just as I say that, all outfield players are involved in a melee following a challenge in the middle of the pitch. Perquis picks up a yellow for running the length of the pitch to get involved, while Miranda and Godin are also booked. It has really boiled over in this match. Thankfully, the referee does not award a red card.
Canas is the latest player to have his name taken as he chops down Costa just outside the penalty area. It has not been that type of match, but it is threatening to boil over as approach the latter stages. The resulting free kick is taken by Gabi, but Adrian comes to claim under the challenge of Falcao.
The challenges continue to fly in from both sides, but we still have all 22 players on the pitch. Not too much to report in terms of chances with Atletico looking the most likely to add to the scoring, Betis have not offered anything in this second period. Just about as poor as they have been all season.
UPDATE: Real Sociedad have taken a 2-0 lead against Real Mallorca with Carlos Vela adding his side's second. Meanwhile, this match continues to force the referee into action as Costa is felled once more. There is some previous with the Brazilian and Betis defender Amaya.
Still the home side pressure with two corners in quick succession, but neither comes close to adding to their tally as Nacho heads over before Adrian claims the second. Can Betis force a late equaliser in this match? Little over 10 minutes of football remaining.
Decent spell from Betis as they pass and probe outside the Atletico penalty area, but they just cannot find that final pass into one of their forward players. A half-chance comes down the other end for Rodriguez, but he can only fire wide of the target from close range.
The home side make their final change of the match as Raul Garcia replaces Falcao, who has struggled this evening on his return from a hamstring injury. They have not needed him this evening with Costa coming up with the goods. Betis continue to enjoy possession, but there is no invention at the moment.
Betis also make their third and final change as Campbell is replaced by Molins for the final five or so minutes. It has been a disappointing evening for the Betis forwards. The away side have just about shaded possession in this match, but they have not given Courtois a fright all evening.
Not too much to report as we enter the final stages of this match. Atletico have just quelled their attacking threat in the past few minutes, preferring to keep possession rather than risk handing the ball back to their opponents. Diego Simeone continues to patrol the touchline with little over four minutes remaining.
Strong end to the match from the home side as Koke finds Garcia in the penalty area, but the Spaniard can only head his effort over the crossbar. Another half-chance arrives moments later as Garcia combines with Gabi before driving into the box, but Nacho is across to clear the danger. The Atletico supporters are in full voice as we enter the final minute of normal time.
Perquis needs to be really careful here as he fells Costa outside the penalty area, having already picked up a yellow card. The resulting free kick is taken by Gabi, but Adrian collects the weak header from Costa. The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional three minutes of added time.
Replays, courtesy of Sky Sports News, have just shown us that Amaya spat in the face of Costa during that last incident. That is disgusting behaviour from the defender. It simply has no place in football. Costa has done well not to respond. Little over one minute remaining and Atletico have possession.
FULL-TIME: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Real Betis
So there we have it. It is the first time ever that Atletico have won 13 times in a row on their home patch. They capitalise on dropped points from Real Madrid and Barcelona. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and look out for our Team of the Week that will be available within the next 45 minutes. Good evening!