Real Betis will look to retain their first-leg advantage when they play host Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey semifinals on Thursday night. Thanks to goals from Borja Iglesias and William Carvalho, Betis were able to bounce back and win the tie after a 5th-minute opener from Rayo forward Alvaro Garcia Rivera. Los Franjirrojos now face an uphill battle to cut the deficit and make it into the final.
Real Betis are thriving under Manuel Pellegrini. They are third on the La Liga table, ahead of the likes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. The Andalusians have also made it to the knock-out stages of the Europa League and await a Round-of-16 tie with Eintracht Frankfurt.
But before that, Betis will have to take on Rayo at the Benito Villamarin Stadium in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals. Having won the first leg away from home, the hosts will seek to finish the job and secure a spot in the final. With La Liga heavy hitters Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid already out of the competition, Betis will feel they have a real shot at the title.
Since their win in the reverse fixture, Betis have played five matches and won three of them. However, there only defeat within that period came in the Seville derby on Sunday. Sergio Canales netted a stoppage-time goal for Betis, but it only proved consolatory as Sevilla won the match 2-1.
Betis will be hoping to return to winning ways when Rayo Vallecano pays a visit on Thursday night. A draw would suffice for the home side since they will enter the fray with a one-goal advantage.
Fullbacks Martin Montoya and Juan Miranda will sit this one out because of injuries. Montoya is nursing a muscle problem while Miranda has been struggle with an ankle injury.
Coming this far in the competition is a commendable achievement for Rayo Vallecano. Still, they will feel their story can go even further if they return home with a big result from Seville. They took an early lead in the first leg but failed to hold on to it. Since the margin is narrow, they will be hoping for an upset to book a ticket for Estadio de La Cartuja, where the final will be held.
Besides reaching the first Copa del Rey semifinals in 40 years, Rayo enjoyed a solid La Liga campaign till December, but things took a turn for the worse since then. They haven’t tasted a win in the league since December 18. Rayo had 31 points to their name going into the first leg and occupied the ninth position. They still have the same amount of points, having lost all of the three matches they played after the first leg. Andoni Iraola’s men have now dropped to 12th.
A return to the Segunda Division seems unlikely, but Rayo still need to quickly turn around their form to ensure their La Liga survival. Success on Thursday will not only grant them a pass to the final, but it could also trigger a resurgence in the league.
The visitors will draw inspiration from their last match, where they had lost 1-0 to Real Madrid but gave the reigning Spanish champions a run for their money. They tested Thibaut Courtois at goal several times, but the Belgian produced one of the finest goalkeeping displays of the season to keep Rayo at bay.
Other than Unai Lopez, Rayo don’t have any major injury concerns ahead of the game.
With five consecutive defeats, it’s safe to say Rayo Vallecano have lost momentum. They put on a solid display against Real in the weekend, but they couldn’t grind out a point. Real Betis, on the other hand, are brimming with confidence. They have home ground advantage and they already have a one goal lead going into the tie.
We believe this is going to be another Real Betis win.
Betis to win @ 1.8.