Real Betis will be looking to post their first win of the 2021-22 La Liga campaign when they welcome Cadiz to Seville on Friday evening (8:00PM, 20 Aug, Nigerian Time).
Manuel Pellegrini's side opened their season with a 1-1 draw against newly-promoted Mallorca last weekend, while Cadiz played out a 1-1 draw with Levante in their first fixture.
Betis enjoyed an impressive 2020-21 campaign, winning 17, drawing 10 and losing 11 of their 38 league matches to collect 61 points, which was enough to finish sixth, allowing them to qualify directly for the group stage of this season's Europa League.
Sixth represented the club's joint-best season at this level since 2004-05, and there is no question that Pellegrini's side will be expected to push high up the division once again this term.
It was an underwhelming start to the season last weekend, though, as they had to come from behind to pick up a point against newly-promoted Mallorca, with an own goal from Manolo Reina in the second half cancelling out a first-half effort from Brian Olivan, leaving the scores level at 1-1.
Betis impressed on their own patch last season, picking up 35 points from 19 matches, just three fewer than Barcelona collected at Camp Nou, and home form is likely to be key again this term.
The Green and Whites have only signed three new players on free transfers this summer, but the club are expected to do more business before the transfer window closes, and it will be interesting to see how Pellegrini uses his squad during what will be a busy season.
Cadiz, meanwhile, played out a 1-1 draw with Levante in their season opener last Saturday; Alvaro Cervera's side were actually behind until the 97th minute of the contest, when Alfonso Espino came up with a leveller.
The Yellow Submarine were excellent in Spain's top flight last term, finishing 12th on their return to this level of football, and they are playing in back-to-back La Liga seasons for the first time since 1993.
Los Piratas have been busy during this summer's transfer window, with a number of new players arriving at the club, but many have also moved on, meaning that there is a new look to the squad this term.
Cadiz will be desperate to avoid the dreaded second-season syndrome, and they will be keen to put their first win of the season on the board as soon as possible.
Last season, Alvaro's side suffered 1-0 defeats in both of their league fixtures with Betis, but they largely impressed on their travels, collecting 24 points from 19 matches, which was in contrast to their home form, where they only picked up 20 points from 19 fixtures - the third-worst record in the division.
Betis will again be without the services of Marc Bartra, Youssouf Sabaly and Diego Lainez through injury, while Alex Moreno is likely to miss out with the hamstring issue that he picked up against Mallorca.
Cristian Tello was suspended for his team's season opener but is available for this contest, so Pellegrini has a number of options in the final third of the field.
It is expected to be a similar XI to the one that started the clash with Mallorca, meaning that Rodri, Nabil Fekir and Aitor Ruibal could operate behind lone forward Borja Iglesias.
As for Cadiz, Santiago Arzamendia, Jose Mari and Jon Ander Garrido all missed out against Levante and are expected to remain on the sidelines for this contest.
The visitors could match up to Betis in terms of a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Alvaro Negredo operating at the tip of the attack; Salvi, Anthony Lozano and Alex are also expected to start in an attacking side.
Tomas Alarcon and Varazdat Haroyan made their debuts for Cadiz in their clash with Levante last weekend, and the pair are expected to retain their spots in the starting XI, while Jens Jonsson should operate in the middle of the park.
Real Betis possible starting lineup:
Silva; Montoya, Gonzalez, Ruiz, Calderon; Akouokou, Canales; Rodri, Fekir, Ruibal; Iglesias
Cadiz possible starting lineup:
Ledesma; Akapo, Haroyan, Jimenez, Espino; Jonsson, Alarcon; Salvi, Alex, Lozano; Negredo
Cadiz were impressive on their travels last season and are certainly capable of making this a very difficult assignment for Betis, who struggled to get going in their 2021-22 opener against Mallorca; we are expecting a tight contest on Friday evening but expect Pellegrini's side to pick up all three points.
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