Morning all! Sunday’s La Liga action opens from Sevilla as Real Betis
welcome Rayo Vallecano
. It is perhaps too early in the season to be discussing ‘relegation six-pointers’ but there is no question that both of these sides are in desperate need of the three points. A positive result for either would certainly ease some of the pressure on the respective managers.
REAL BETIS: Sara; Nacho, Amaya, Figueras, Juanfran; Sevilla, Reyes, Nono; Vadillo, Castro, Molina
RAYO VALLECANO: Cobeno; Tito, Galeano, Martinez, Baena; Trashorras, Saul; Larrivey, Falque, Viera; Lass
So there we have it. Major boost for the home side this morning with Ruben Castro returning to the team. There are also starts for Alvaro Vadillo and Jorge Molina in an attacking XI. Rayo, meanwhile, continue with Lass Bangoura as the lone striker. On-loan Valencia attacker Jonathan Viera also starts, as does Iago Falque.
In terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, it does not make good reading for Betis. In fact, Betis have not beaten Rayo since a Segunda Division clash in March 2010. Since then, Rayo have won all four matches, scoring 10 times in the process and conceding just once. The corresponding match last season ended in a 2-1 away win.
As mentioned, Betis enter the match off the back of a 4-0 defeat at Sevilla last weekend. That result left them bottom of the table on nine points, but due to the closeness at the foot of the division, they are just three points from safety. Victory this afternoon would indeed move them above Rayo due to their superior goal difference.
However, Betis have picked up just two league wins all season. Both of those came on their own patch, which will hand them confidence entering this match. On the road, they have drawn one and lost six, which has been the route of their problems. They look a different side from the one that challenged for the top four last season.
Both sides have struggled defensively this season with Betis conceding 28 times in their 14 matches and Rayo 34 – which is the worst record in the league. That said, both sides have kept four clean sheets apiece. Down the other end, their problems are also apparent, with Rayo netting just 13 times to Betis’ 12 in La Liga.
It was always going to be a difficult season for Rayo after losing such a number of key players in the summer. What Paco Jemez achieved last season was remarkable, but their open style of football has left them exposed this season. They are the only team yet to draw a match in the league this season, which is an indication of their approach to the game.
Despite their problems, three points this afternoon would move them into 14th position in the table. There is just a slight gap opening up from 13th to 14th, but the bottom six have all struggled to produce a run of results thus far. This type of match will be key in terms of confidence as the season continues to gather pace.
PREDICTION: In many ways, this is the most fascinating fixture in La Liga this season. Both sides are really struggling at the moment, but both have a number of talented attacking players. I would be astounded if we did not see goals this afternoon and therefore I am backing a 2-2 draw in Seville.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of the first period. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. You just get the feeling that the first goal - if we indeed have one - could be decisive in this type of match. The home side get the action underway as morning becomes afternoon in Spain.
Not a full house inside the stadium this afternoon, but there is a strong atmosphere. It has been a bright start from Rayo, with Saul and Baena seeing plenty of the ball in the opening two minutes. Betis break down the other end with Sevilla moments later, but his through pass is collected by Cobeno.
The referee has been more involved than he would like in the last couple of moments as the challenges continue to arrive from both sides. The latest challenge allows Nono the chance to deliver a free kick into the Rayo box, but Cobeno comes to collect. Not too much in terms of chances in the opening four minutes of action.
Neither side has been able to put together any sort of passing sequence thus far as the challenges continue to arrive from both sides. The home supporters are creating a fine atmosphere inside the stadium and the noise brings an attack as Juanfran breaks down the right, but his cross is into the arms of Cobeno.
It's bright work from Vadillo as the Betis winger drives past two defenders before combining with Sevilla, but the return pass is just too long for the Spaniard. In truth, neither side has really been able to force the issue thus far due to some poor passing in the final third. Still goalless with nine minutes on the clock.
The noise levels inside the stadium raise once more as Vadillo breaks down the right before delivering a dangerous cross into the box, but Molina cannot make contact at the vital moment. That is just about the clearest chance for either side thus far. However, it has been slim pickings in terms of clear opportunities.
Half-chance for the away side this time as Larrivey collects possession in the middle of the park before releasing Lass, but the Rayo striker cannot make up the ground, allowing Sara out to collect. The challenges continue to arrive in the middle of the park, but the referee is on hand to calm proceedings once more.
Just a few signs that Betis are starting to warm to the task this afternoon as Sevilla plays a low cross towards Molina, but Tito is across to clear at the vital moment. The resulting set piece eventually falls to Nacho outside the box, but his cross is too long for Amaya, who has remained inside the Rayo area.
One-way traffic in the last couple of moments as Betis continue to force the issue with a series of low crosses into the Rayo box, but the capital outfit have been compact in defence thus far. A free kick arrives for the home side moments later, but Saul is on hand to clear the danger under pressure from Castro.
Well, 20 minutes on the clock and in truth, not too much has happened. Betis have shaded the possession, but neither side has really threatened to open the scoring. It is not too difficult to see why both have struggled to score goals this season. Trashorras delivers a dangerous cross into the Betis box moments later, but Larrivey is challenged by Amaya at the final moment.
Half-chance for Rayo this time as Larrivey finds some space down the right before delivering a cross towards Lass, but Nacho is across to clear at the vital moment. The danger remains as Lass breaks into the box, but he loses control under pressure from Sara. Still goalless with 22 minutes on the clock in Seville.
Rayo are forced into an early change here as Alberto Bueno
replaces Falque. The extent of the damage is not clear, but the on-loan Tottenham Hotspur attacker looks to have picked up a strain. The strong atmosphere inside the stadium remains, but both sides are really struggling to create chances. We are in desperate need of some inspiration.
Not a match for the faint-hearted in the middle of the park as the challenges continue to arrive, with Rayo defender Baena picking up a yellow card for a late challenge on Castro. The resulting set piece is whipped into the area by Sevilla, but once more the danger is cleared. Still we await the first real chance with 27 minutes on the clock.
GOAL! Real Betis 1-0 Rayo Vallecano (Amaya)
Betis open the scoring with 27 minutes on the clock as Amaya thumps a powerful header into the back of the net from close range. It is harsh on Rayo, but Betis have been the better side.
You just get the feeling that Rayo need to stay in the match in the latter stages of the first period if they are to take something back to Madrid. The home supporters are in fine voice as we enter the latter stages of the first period. Handbags between both sets of players moments later as Larrivey clashes with Sevilla near the touchline.
There is a real underlying ill-feeling in this match as the challenges continue to arrive from both sides. The man in the middle is known as a referee that likes to produce cards, but the Spaniard has calmed proceedings thus far. There is a chance that this one could blow up in the latter stages of the half. Betis lead with 33 minutes on the clock in Seville.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of moments, but Betis remain the team that look the most likely. Two corners in quick succession threaten Rayo, but Tito and Martinez take it in turns to clear the danger. Amaya has a half-chance from a header moments later, but his effort is just wide.
Half-chance for the away side this time as Saul finds some space down the left before delivering a dangerous cross towards Lass, but Nacho is on hand to clear the danger. Bueno has a half-chance down the other end, but his effort is straight into the arms of Sara.
Half-chance for Sevilla as the Betis midfielder collects possession outside the box, but his effort is high and wide of the crossbar. Sevilla has another opportunity moments later after collecting a loose ball inside the box, but he curls one just wide of the post.
Slightly untidy period of the match in the last couple of moments with both sides guilty of losing possession too easily in the final third. Meanwhile, the referee continues to be called into action as the challenges arrive from both teams. Little under five minutes of the first period remaining in Seville. Still Betis lead 1-0 courtesy of that Amaya header.
CHANCE! Half-chance for Trashorras as the Rayo skipper collects a pass from Lass on the edge of the box, but his effort whistles wide of the post. Betis are down the other end with Molina moments later, but his effort is straight at Cobeno. The Spaniard just had to find the back of the net from that distance.
HALF-TIME: Real Betis 1-0 Rayo Vallecano
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to an end with Betis leading 1-0 courtesy of a header from Amaya after 27 minutes. It has been a half with few clear chances, but the home side deserve to be leading at this stage of proceedings. As it stands, they will move off the bottom of the table.
STATISTICS: Rayo have just about shaded the possession with 53%, but they have managed just two attempts to Betis' five. All three of the yellow cards issued have been awarded to Rayo, meanwhile, which is not much of a surprise. A one-goal lead at this stage is just about a fair reflection.
The home side have a number of attacking options on their bench in the shape of Cedric, Chuli and Verdu
. Meanwhile, Rayo have the likes of Castillo, Gomez and Gonzalez in reserve. However, they have already been forced into a change with Cobeno replacing Falque.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch for the second period. You just get the feeling that the next goal - if there indeed is one - could be decisive in this type of match. No changes for either side at the interval as Rayo get the second 45 minutes of action underway.
As mentioned, no changes for either side at the interval, which is not much of a surprise. However, I expect that not to be the case if the score remains the same around the hour mark. Bright start from Betis as Nono drives down the right before delivering a low cross into the box, but Cobeno is on hand to clear the danger.
Half-chance for the away side this time as Lass delivers a dangerous cross into the Betis box, but Nacho is on hand to clear the danger. The resulting corner presents a shooting chance to Viera, but his effort is straight into the arms of Sara. Bright opening five minutes to the second period in Seville.
It's bright work from Betis as Molina finds some space down the left before delivering a dangerous cross into the box, but Tito is on hand to clear. The resulting corner is delivered into the area by Nono, but Amaya's header is cleared by Lass. Another goal would make it difficult for Rayo to respond.
GOAL! Real Betis 1-1 Rayo Vallecano (Bueno)
Rayo level with 51 minutes on the clock as Bueno taps home from close range after Sara had parried an effort from Viera. Poor goalkeeping, but Rayo are indeed on level terms in the early stages of the second period.
Isn't that just football? Betis have been much the better side this afternoon, but Rayo are now level in the early stages of the second half. Moments before, Vadillo had rattled the crossbar for Betis. Pulsating end-to-end contest with 54 minutes on the clock.
A replay of the Rayo goal has shown that Bueno was in an offside position when he found the back of the net. Betis will be fuming when that news becomes public. Rayo break down the other end moments later with Larrivey, but his effort is blocked by Amaya. Moments later, Viera picks up a booking for a challenge on Molina.
Betis make their first change of the match just before the hour mark as Verdu replaces Molina, which is not a popular decision with the home supporters. You just get the feeling that there are a couple more goals in this contest. The card count continues to rise, meanwhile, as Sevilla fells Tito inside the Rayo half.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of moments, but the high tempo remains. Betis make their second change of the match moments later as Sevilla is replaced by Juan Carlos. Just the one change for Rayo, but that was enforced in the first period when Bueno replaced Falque. Little under 30 minutes of football remaining in this La Liga contest.
The home supporters are just letting their frustrations known at the moment as their side continue to lose possession in the final third. Viera remains the main outlet for Rayo with his pace and movement, but twice in quick succession the on-loan Valencia attacker is ruled offside. Little over 25 minutes of football remaining with the score still level at 1-1.
Rayo make their second change of the match as Trashorras is replaced by Adrian. Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of moments, but both sides continue to commit players in the final third. It appears that Betis are preparing to make their third and final change with 66 minutes on the clock.
Betis do indeed make their third and final change as Chuli replaces Vadillo, who has struggled to influence proceedings in the second period. A half-chance arrives to Rayo moments later as Lass delivers a dangerous cross into the box, but Sara comes to collect under pressure from Larrivey. Still 1-1 in Seville.
Half-chance for the away side once more as Larrivey finds some space on the edge of the box, but his effort is blocked by Nacho. Rayo are down the opposite side with Viera moments later, but his low cross is cleared. Some real nerves in the Betis defence at the moment as Rayo continue to force the issue.
Rayo make their third and final change of the match as Castillo replaces Larrivey, who limps off the pitch. Both managers have played all their cards with little over 15 minutes of football remaining. There is no question that Rayo will be more pleased with a point than Betis. However, you just get the feeling that there will be some late drama here.
Not too much to report in terms of chances in the last couple of moments, but Rayo are starting to force the issue in the final third. Another free kick goes the way of the away side, but Bueno can only loop a header over the crossbar. Betis break with Verdu, but his cross is straight into the arms of Cobeno.
Half-chance for the home side as Juanfran delivers a dangerous cross into the box, but Nono cannot make contact under pressure from Tito. The referee has been more involved than he would like in the last couple of moments as the challenges continue to arrive, but still there are 22 players on the pitch, which is a surprise.
Not too much to report in the last minute or two, but neither is settling for a point. This is the type of match that Betis need to win if they are to move off the bottom of the table. In truth, it is not too difficult to see why both of these sides have struggled this season. Little over 10 minutes of football remaining.
GOAL! Real Betis 2-1 Rayo Vallecano (Verdu)
Betis take the lead with 82 minutes on the clock as Verdu finishes from the edge of the box after a poor punch from Cobeno. What an important goal that could be in the context of their season.
Verdu has been the target of some boos from his own supporters this season, but he has come up with the goods here. Rayo attempt to break down the other end with Viera, but his cross is straight into the arms of Sara. Little over five minutes of football remaining in Seville.
Incredible atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment as the home supporters attempt to get their team over the line. Rayo have other ideas, however, as they continue to force the issue. A deep cross from Viera threatens Sara, but the Betis goalkeeper manages to collect under pressure from Bueno.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Betis to score their third as Juan Carlos finds Castro just inside the box, but his effort is deflected high and wide of the crossbar by Tito. Still Rayo survive as we enter stoppage time.
CHANCE! The chances continue to arrive for Betis as Amaya puts it on a plate for Castro inside the Rayo box, but Cobeno is across to make a fine save. This one should be over.
GOAL! Real Betis 2-2 Rayo Vallecano (Bueno)
Oh my good grief. Rayo level in stoppage time as Bueno registers his second of the match from close range. Betis have had some wonderful chances in the last few moments, but have been hit on the counter. Just incredible.
We are into the fourth minute of stoppage time and neither side is settling for a point here. Betis break down one end with Juanfran, before Sara is forced to clear from Viera moments later. Little under one minute of normal time remaining in Seville.
FULL-TIME: Real Betis 2-2 Rayo Vallecano
So there we have it. Late drama in Seville as Rayo secure a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to join us this afternoon for more La Liga football. Until then!