Monday night could be the night that Real Betis return to Europe, as a win would guarantee a spot for next year’s Europa League.
The opponents for Betis at the Benito Villamarín are already relegated Málaga, a team that still has distant memories of competing in Europe, as they were in Champions League quarter-final just five years ago.
That must feel like a lifetime ago, however, as Málaga have sat in last place all season long, and will have nothing but pride to fight for tonight in this small Andalusian derby.
Real Betis have bittersweet memories of Europe, as the last time they competed in the Europa League (2013/2014) they did reach the 1/8 finals but were knocked out on penalties by their local rivals and arch nemeses Sevilla.
Two months later, they were relegated from La Liga too.
Nothing to lose
Betis, who sit in fifth, are currently the most in-form side in Spain, as they had won six games in a row (tied for most consecutive wins in club history) until last weekend when they drew 0-0 away at Atlético Madrid.
Speaking to the press ahead on Sunday ahead of Monday night’s game, Betis manager Quique Setién underlined the danger of playing an already relegated side.
“It’s a team that has nothing to lose, a team that will play without pressure on them,” Setién told Marca.
However, Setién does realize that his side is the definite favourite.
“If we get our things right, we should get the points in this game relatively straight-forward,” he said.
Key stat: Real Betis have kept 6 clean sheets in a row, the longest streak in club history.
Málaga have occupied last place since the second round of fixtures this season, but could move up to 19th, should they win tonight.
They managed to end their run of 1 win in the last 12 matches by beating Real Sociedad 2-0 at La Rosaléda last weekend.
However, they haven’t won two games in a row all season.
“I don’t want to help Betis to their party,” Málaga manager José González told AS ahead of the game.
“As bad as the results have been, we have to defend a crest, a club, and that’s what I’ve been trying to tell the players all week.”
Real Betis – Málaga kicks off at 21.00 (20.00 BST) at the Estádio Benito Villamarín.
Quique Setien quotes found at: http://www.marca.com/futbol/betis/2018/04/29/5ae5aaf046163fd0398b4639.html
José González quotes found at: https://as.com/futbol/2018/04/30/primera/1525055609_080159.html
Header image: depositphotos.com (Royalty-free)
Written as for Marca.com/en (the English version of Spanish newspaper Marca).