Fresh from qualifying for the UEFA Europa League knockout stages for the second year in a row, Real Betis return to LaLiga action as they host Almeria on Sunday.
Manuel Pellegrini‘s men held Jose Mourinho‘s Roma to a 1-1 draw on Thursday night, while Almeria brought a four-game losing streak to an end last weekend, with a 3-1 win over Rayo Vallecano.
Juggling both domestic and European football was always going to be the challenge for Real Betis this season, but so far, the side from Seville seem to be doing a good job.
Having qualified from their Europa League group with three wins and a draw, Los Verdiblancos find themselves level on points with Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad in joint-fourth, having only lost twice so far this campaign.
The additional midweek football has taken its toll on a few of Pellegrini’s players, however, with both Juanmi and Nabil Fekir likely to miss crucial upcoming games against teams in and around them, with a city derby against Sevilla on the horizon, too.
Last time out in LaLiga, Betis were thwarted by an early red card for the second time this month, drawing 0-0 with Real Valladolid as German Pezzella was sent off in the 36th minute for a last-man foul, just a week after Luiz Felipe was dismissed in the 20th minute for a similar offence.
Keep their discipline this time around, and the Andalusian side should have too much for their recently-promoted visitors, as they look to protect a 100% home record in the league this season.
Almeria, on the other hand, are yet to win away from home since their return to the top flight in August, hovering a point above the relegation zone with one victory in their last five.
The departure of Umar Sadiq has significantly weakened Rubi‘s side going forward, with the goals in last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano being the first that Almeria had scored since the Nigerian striker left the club.
Nonetheless, a first goal in Spanish football for El Bilal Toure, as well as maiden LaLiga strikes for Lucas Robertone and defender Srdjan Babic, were huge confidence boosters for Los Rojiblancos, who almost doubled their goal tally for the season in one afternoon.
Adrian Embarba was particularly impressive on the right, while former Levante midfielder Gonzalo Melero showed his attacking potential with a first assist since joining the club.
It certainly will not be easy for last season’s Segunda Division champions as they visit the side with the best home record in the league, but stranger things have happened on the weekends after European games.