Stretty News spoke to La Liga expert Euan McTear about Real Betis ahead of tonight’s Europa League clash.
You can follow him on Twitter here: @emctear
Real Betis are on a four match unbeaten run, drawing with Real Madrid on Sunday. Will they believe they can cause an upset after watching United knock Barcelona out of the competition?
Euan: “Betis know they’re underdogs, but not because of anything they saw from the United vs Barcelona playoff. They believe the can be just as good as Barça on their day and they’ll also take the Europa League more seriously than Barça did, because Betis put in a lot more to get this far.”
What’s the general feeling among Betis fans when it comes to this season to date?
Euan: “This has been another good season and they’re delighted at how they’re up there with a chance of Champions League qualification while rivals Sevilla battle relegation. As good as they have been in LaLiga, though, Betis fans’ highlights this season have come in the Europa League. They were very impressive in the groups and it shouldn’t be forgotten that Betis managed to secure a bye and avoid the playoff round, something United weren’t able to.”
William Carvalho was linked with a move to the Premier League years ago. Arsenal and United were among the clubs linked. How has he done at Betis and what should we expect from him in midfield on Thursday night?
Euan: “He has really grown to become a leader of this Betis team. The fact he’s been there since 2018 makes him one of the longest-serving members of the squad. Alongside Guido Rodríguez, he’ll be flying around everywhere protecting the back line. And, he’ll probably be in the referee’s ear too.”
Which United player, if any, would you like to see in Spain?
Euan: “Can we get Casemiro back? His antics have certainly been missed.”
How do you think Betis will do between now and the end of the season?
Euan: “We’re at a really interesting point of the season, because just last week they lost star man Nabil Fekir to an ACL injury. Even though they’ve been able to cover for his absence fairly well when he has missed the odd game, having him out for the rest of the campaign is going to be a huge blow and their fortunes will depend on how they deal with that.”
Which players should we watch out for on current form?
Euan: “Rodri Sánchez is one to watch, as he has been the player filling in for Fekir in attacking midfield in their 4-2-3-1 and he has done a good job so far, though the question is whether he can keep that up. Another would be Luiz Felipe, the centre-back signed last summer from Lazio who has come in and done brilliantly so far, besides his three red cards that is.”
What do you think of Manchester United a) the club; b) the team; c) the fans and d) the manager?
Euan: “a) Obviously it’s a historic club and in Spain they still create excitement whenever they come over, as was even seen vs Barcelona and even still when a very depleted United squad played Betis and Cádiz in friendlies during the World Cup.
“b) I guess it’s hard to know which team you’ll get right now, whether it’s the one from last Sunday or from last last Sunday.
“c) There is expectation in Seville that a huge travelling fanbase will come over, which should really make the leg at the Benito Villamarín a special one since it’s one of the best grounds in the country when there’s a large number of home and away fans combined
“d) It seems that United have a serious manager in Ten Hag, one who knows what to do in European competitions. Obviously a first season has its up and downs, but he seems the right man for the job.”
High and low point from Betis this season?
Euan: “High point was without doubt the 2-1 comeback win away at Roma, with a nice 88th min Luiz Henrique goal as the winner. The low point was going out the Copa del Rey so early, as they lost at home to Osasuna on penalties in the round of 16.”
Predict the score of the first leg at Old Trafford.
Euan: “United should win the home leg, but I think Betis can score. 3-1 to United.”