"Valverde, who is he? A cyclist, right? " That was heard in the Benito Villamarín grandstand when the Madrid lineup was heard. Someone put his hand to his head. Madrid, by order of its coach, Santiago Solari, had presented a revolutionary eleven. With Marcelo and Isco on the bench, the coach invented a Madrid with a defense of three central, Varane, Sergio Ramos and Nacho, escorted in the bands by Carvajal and Reguilón. Seeing Madrid with five defenses is not unusual, although Zidane already used a similar scheme in a game at Sanchez Pizjuán against Sevilla. And not only that. Casemiro and Valverde in front formed a double pivot of eminent defensive character.
The use of the three centers and a rear of five elements is typical of teams with defensive problems. Solari wanted to stop the bleeding of goals conceded, especially in the clashes away from the Santiago Bernabéu, where he had been beaten up 18 times. A terrible numbers for a set of the size of Madrid. Only the bottom club, Huesca, with 23 goals, had conceded farther away from their stadium after 18 games.
The conservative approach of Madrid, of white in Benito Villamarín, something that had not done since 1960 and now due to the green squats of Betis, had a reassuring effect on its players, which, perhaps due to accumulation and a better ordering of their men in the field, offered a sense of security. Betis also changed the system. The normal thing in the set of Quique Setién is to act with three power stations.
Disappointed by the casualties, Solari watched in terror as Benzema was injured in the little finger of his right hand, after receiving an accidental stomp of a defense on the edge of the break. The striker suffers a fracture, according to confirmed Solari, and thus fatigued the list of injured in Madrid.
Entered Christ, striker of Castilla, which was placed next to Vinicius in the lead. With the attackers of the subsidiary, Madrid is living an ordeal with casualties: Courtois, Bale, Asensio, Marcos Llorente, Mariano, Kroos and now Benzema. The striker's injury, which caught a great first half, left his team touched. His withdrawal in the second half was even more pronounced because he could not find an exit. Benzema was no longer to get off the central and start the plays of danger, as in the action of the Croatian. Betis was a symphony of passes against a rival who went back to defend the goal of Modric. Setién's team dominated with 73% of possession.
Madrid survived with difficulty. In minute 74 Solari replaced Reguilón by Ceballos and returned to the defense of four. In an isolated counterattack, Carvalho needed Casemiro and Ceballos executed the space that Pau, the goalkeeper, had to cover. "Unfortunately, I've gotten it," said the former Betis player, stunned by the whistles his old hobby gave him. "My sensation is bittersweet," he lamented; "But these three points know us to gold".