Bournemouth v Carlisle preview
Fri, 19 Apr 2013 12:50:00
Pepe Mel accepts his Real Betis side are expected to lose at Real Madrid on Saturday, but he is refusing to give in to such talk.
Madrid are second in the table with their title hopes over, but in good form and preparing for a Champions League semi-final date with Borussia Dortmund.
Betis are no pushovers, though, and are chasing a European berth for themselves next season.
They are currently seventh and will be buoyed by their comeback from 3-0 down to draw with Sevilla last time out.
"It is a tough game that everyone takes for granted that we will lose," Mel told his club's official website.
"We will try and show the options we have, though."
Despite the meek surrender of their title, Madrid have been a formidable outfit in 2013.
A weakened side beat Barcelona and, with the Champions League at the forefront of their minds, they may choose to shuffle the pack against Betis.
But regardless of who plays, Mel knows his men have a challenge to face.
"This year no team has won at the Bernabeu and it is not going to be easy," he said.
"Madrid do not give anything away to any team because they are hugely competitive.
"We cannot help who plays. If it is not (Mesut) Ozil it will be (Luka) Modric. They are all very good.
"No matter who plays it will be very complicated and we will have to be careful not to leave space."
Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, who has once again been the subject of intense speculation this week, has perhaps given a hint of what he is thinking about tomorrow's game.
His club's official website have reported that Castilla players Alex and Casemiro - both midfielders and the latter a loanee from Sao Paolo - have been training with Mourinho and his first-team this week.
Although he has not publicly said he will be leaving the club in the summer, reports have continued to indicate Mourinho will be seeking a new challenge come the end of the campaign.
A coach at the youth club Canillas, where Mourinho's son plays, told Spanish newspaper AS that the Portuguese had told him he was heading back to Chelsea.
Either way, Madrid have two trophies left to fight for, starting with the Champions League as well as the Copa del Rey.
Betis have things to achieve too. They are currently outside of the top six but, with fifth-placed Malaga currently banned from playing in Europe next season, they are in pole position to capitalise.
They have a four-point cushion over eight-placed Getafe, while Madrid are 13 points shy of Barca.
The hosts have no fresh injury worries as they look to edge closer to promotion to the second tier of English football for the first time since 1987.
The Cherries know six points from their final two games will seal their elevation to the Championship and if they rack up their club-record eighth consecutive victory and other results go their way on Saturday they could be promoted with a match to spare.
Victory for Eddie Howe's men coupled with Sheffield United's failure to pick up three points against Portsmouth and a win for Hartlepool over Brentford in the late kick-off would secure Bournemouth's promotion.
Only long-term injury absentees Miles Addison, Stephen Purches and Stephane Zubar are unavailable for Howe, who looks likely to name the same squad once more.
Shaun McDonald, Richard Hughes and Josh McQuoid all stepped off the bench in last weekend's 3-0 win at Shrewsbury and the trio are all pushing for starts should he freshen things up.
Carlisle striker Mathieu Manset is hoping to make his first start for the club this weekend.
Frenchman Manset has made five appearances off the substitutes' bench since arriving from Swiss side FC Sion last month, including a 27-minute run-out in last week's home draw with Preston.
Manager Greg Abbott must decide on the former Reading forward's match fitness, while Rory Loy, Mark Beck and Danny Cadamarteri are all in contention to partner Lee Miller in attack.
Abbott has no new injury or suspension problems but is still without midfield pair Paul Thirlwell (calf) and Dave Symington (knee), defender Frank Simek (thigh), plus winger Matty Robson (back).
Left-back Chris Chantler's season ended in January due to an ankle injury.
The Cumbrians, unbeaten in their last six matches, are chasing a third straight league win on the road.