Zidane keeps testing his squad. Last night he went out on a 4-4-2 system with a diamond in the midfield formed by Casemiro, Kroos, Valverde y Odegaard. It was surprising that the Whites did not play with any pure wingers, leaving Benzema and Jovic forward. This way, they focus more in the middle, as they keep struggling to score. On the other side, Pellegrini´s squad has really improved compared to last season; the offensive lien, formed by Canales, Joaquín and Fekir put Madrid on trouble thanks to their versatility.
The game started with a disallowed goal to Benzema, as he was offside, but Valverde would make the first one just a few minutes later in an action where Betis´ defense was horrible. Ramos missed a huge chance to double their lead right away. However, Betis got compacted and were better than Madrid in the first half, as they were able to turn the scoreboard over thanks to Mandi and William Carvalho´s goals before halftime. The game had plenty of alternatives, but Betis were very alive.
Second half got even, but that is also when all the controversial actions came. Emerson scored and own goal in the first minutes, which knocked Betis´confidence down, but that was not their right back´s only mistake: just when Jovic was making a run towards the goal, the defender pushed him from the back and, since he has the last man, referee sent him off. Pellegrini had to rebuild the team and substituted Fekir, who was having a great performance. However, the most polemical play came through a penalty that gave Madrid the win: Marc Bartra fell down to the ground, as he was protecting the ball from Borja Mayoral, and the defender touched the ball with his elbow. Was that enough to make the call? Well, if we read the rules, they stand that any handball inside the box is a PK, but this rule is each day more confusing and we always see that the referee´s criteria ends being decisive.
No doubt details decided the match. The VAR was crucial one more day, but just as we always criticize the tool when it is wrong, I believe that we should recognize its right calls as well, which is what happened last night, even though not everyone would agree with me. It was a hard earned win for Madrid, which are still struggling to score (an own goal and another one from the penalty point out of the 3 scored), which proves that they really need to sign a scorign striker to play with Benzema. In fact, Zidane tried with Mayoral in the second half, but I think that Mariano is a player that can add a lot to this team and he does not have the opportunities he deserves.