Real Madrid ended their triumphant LaLiga season and warmed up for next week’s Champions League final against Liverpool with a goalless draw when they visited Real Betis at the Bernabeu on Friday.
With Madrid already confirmed as champions and fifth-placed Betis knowing they’ll miss out on a Champions League spot, there was little to gain for either side. And the relaxed celebratory mood was evident as Madrid received an honor guard before kick-off and retaliated for Copa del Rey winners Betis.
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“We played the game we wanted to play, didn’t take any risks, played at a good rhythm… I didn’t want to take any risks,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti told Movistar afterwards. “We can now rest for two days and prepare for the game. The rhythm was pretty slow, we didn’t push too hard, we tried to control the ball, that’s all I can ask for.”
And although Carlo Ancelotti started with a line-up similar to the one he is likely to line up in Paris on May 28, the odds were slim.
Karim Benzema wanted to break away from Raul as second in Madrid’s all-time goalscoring chart and failed to capitalize on Madrid’s two best chances in the first 10 and last 10 minutes. Betis missed their best opportunity in the final moments when veteran substitute Joaquin shot over from close range in his 600th LaLiga appearance.
The only notable absence from Madrid’s line-up was David Alaba, although Ancelotti later said the defender would be ‘100%’ ready for the Champions League final.
There was also a replacement by Isco in his last spell at the Bernabeu before he leaves the club this summer. Another player on the way out, Gareth Bale, did not play but Ancelotti suggested he could play one last time for the club in Paris.
As for who will face Liverpool, Ancelotti made it clear he has already made up his mind.
“I’m clear from the start who’s going to play and then we’ll see what happens during the game,” he said. “We’re not going to start with 11 and end with the same 11, there will be changes throughout the game.
“The plan is very clear, we know the opposition well, Liverpool are a great team with different qualities, we need to play a game to show our strengths.”
Real Madrid finish LaLiga with 86 points from 38 games, currently 13 points ahead of Barcelona ahead of their rivals’ last game of the season.
Betis remains fifth in the standings on 65 points, having already qualified for next season’s Europa League by winning the Copa del Rey last month.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side are two points behind fourth-placed Sevilla but were already eliminated from the competition for a Champions League spot after a worse head-to-head record.
Information from ESPN’s Alex Kirkland and Reuters was used in this report.