Last season, Real Betis looked well on course to claim a first top-three La Liga (LL) finish since 1995, but a smattering of four goalless draws across their last ten league games ensured that UEFA Champions League football – something last attained in 2005 – would prove elusive once again as the Verdiblancos finished a mere fifth.
Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini has opted for a quieter summer transfer window in lieu of revolution, but this has been met with a mixed reaction, especially by those who crave a strong start. On that note, winning curtain raisers have been less frequent than Betis would like, with just one opening-day victory across the previous seven LL seasons (D2, L4).
Visitors Elche ended 2021/22 making a four-place improvement on the finish of 17th they achievede via a final-day victory the season prior. Aiming to help the team climb even further, forwards Ezequiel Ponce and Roger Martí have arrived for a total of £6.3m, and from his days on Levante’s books (2011-2022), the latter in particular knows how to defy the odds.
‘Defy’ is exactly what Elche did back in April’s corresponding fixture too, with the shock 1-0 victory adding a huge scalp to their admirable win rate of 29% as pre-match underdogs in LL action last term (W9, D5, L17) – the best amongst eventual bottom-half teams.
Players to watch: Betis playmaker Nabil Fekir is a good candidate to provide €13m acquisition Luiz Henrique with any LL debut goal – and expect high entertainment if Fekir himself is a scorer, as all of his goals last season came in games producing three or more in total. As for Elche, Tete Morente was the hero in last season’s win here, contributing to a run where his last six goals have arrived beyond the hour mark.
Real Betis possible starting lineup:
Silva; Sabaly, Felipe, Pezzella, Miranda; Juanmi, Akouokou, Carvalho, Canales, Rodri; Willian Jose
Elche possible starting lineup:
Badia; Palacios, Gonzalez, Guti, Mojica; Morente, Gumbau, Fidel, Mascarell; Milla, Boye
Key Points In This Match: Real Betis were brilliant in La Liga last season, and we are finding it difficult to look past Pellegrini’s side in this contest. Elche are capable of making it a tricky encounter for the home side, but we are expecting the Green and Whites to open their campaign with a win.