Real Madrid completed its season in the League and prepared for the Champions League final next week against Liverpool, with a goalless draw with its guest Real Betis at the Bernabeu on Friday.
With Real Madrid already confirmed the Champions League and fifth-placed Betis knowing they would lose a place in the Champions League, there was little to play for either side. The calm festive atmosphere was evident as Real Madrid received the guard of honor and returned the favor to Betis, the King’s Cup winner, before kick-off.
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“We played the game we wanted to play without risking and playing with a good rhythm… I didn’t want to take any risks,” Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti told Movistar afterwards. “Now we can rest for a couple of days and get ready for the match. The tempo was very slow, we didn’t push too much, we tried to control the ball, and I can’t ask for more.”
And while Carlo Ancelotti started with a squad close to the one he is likely to play in Paris on May 28, chances were few and far between.
Karim Benzema is looking to beat Raul, who is second in the scorers list for Real Madrid, and was unable to take advantage of Madrid’s two best chances, as he came in the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes. Betis missed his best chance at the last minute when veteran substitute Joaquin fired from close range in his 600th La Liga appearance.
The only notable absence from Madrid’s squad was David Alaba, although Ancelotti then said the defender would be “100%” ready for the Champions League final.
There was also the appearance of a replacement from Isco in his last game at the Bernabeu before he left the club this summer. Another player on his way out, Gareth BaleHe did not appear, but Ancelotti suggested he make a final appearance for the club in Paris.
As for who will start against Liverpool, Ancelotti has made it clear that his mind is already made up.
“I’m clear who’s going to play from the start and then we’ll see what happens during the match,” he said. “We won’t start with 11 and end with the same 11, there will be changes during the match.
“The plan is very clear, we know the opponent very well, Liverpool is a great team with different characteristics, we have to play a game to show our strengths.”
Real Madrid finished the La Liga season with 86 points from 38 games, currently 13 points behind Barcelona before their last game of the season.
Betis remains in fifth place in the standings with 65 points, having already qualified for the European League next season by winning the King’s Cup last month.
Coach Manuel Pellegrini’s side are two points behind fourth-placed Sevilla but are already out of contention for a place in the Champions League due to a lower head-to-head record.
Information from Alex Kirkland of ESPN and Reuters was used in this report.