Real Betis v Real Mallorca preview
Last Updated: 10/09/11 9:35am
Laudrup: Preparing for life after De Guzman
Top flight football returns to Estadio Benito Villamarín after a two-year hiatus as Betis continue to adapt to life back in La Liga.
Their 1-0 win over Granada might represent personal progression having lost the corresponding fixture 3-0 last season in the Segunda, but Mallorca will prove an entirely different test for the Verdiblancos.
Manager Pepe Mel will still take any potential positives, and the opening day win provides him some. Betis controlled large periods of the game, restricting Granada to few chances before hitting them with the sucker punch in the 88th minute through Ruben Castro.
Irrespective of opponent, the tactical maturity of the side will have pleased the manager, who has added Roque Santa Cruz to his options up front. It provides even more competition for starting places given the winning goal from Ruben Castro and the vital interjection of Jonathan Pereira, an 86th minute substitute who set up the winner just two minutes later.
Betis' home form is what secured them promotion last season, dropping just ten points throughout the campaign. More of the same will be required if they're to consolidate their La Liga place this season.
The same can be said of Real Mallorca, but relegation would be more than a mere inconvenience to the club - it could signal the death knell of it.
The grave financial situation was accentuated yet again at the conclusion of the transfer window with manager Michael Laudrup. Midfielder Jonathan De Guzman, arguably their best player, indisputably their match winner in their 1-0 victory of Espanyol, was sold to Villarreal. In came a cheaper, less effective replacement in Fernando Tissone from Sampdoria.
The win against Espanyol was very much a war of attrition with just four shots on target from Mallorca. Emilio Nsue and new signing Tomer Hemed combined well a few times, while the latter assisted for De Guzman's strike, but it remains to be seen whether Betis will be troubled by the pair.
Mallorca struggled away from the Iberostar with just three wins and 16 goals scored, but the real struggle is adapting to life without De Guzman - something Betis will want to take full advantage of, and give themselves the perfect start to life back in La Liga.
Best bet: Real Betis 1-0 - 5/1
Spanish Primera BBVA